Roughly 150 people attended the 46th ward Town Hall Meeting last week in the Weiss Auditorium. They came to hear Alderman James Cappleman speak about business and infrastructure developments, public safety and city legislation. The alderman also fielded a range of questions for the last 20 minutes of the meeting.
“We wanted to host this meeting because it’s very important to Weiss to be integrated in our community,” said Caren Perlmuter, vice president of community outreach and geriatric services at Weiss. “We want to understand the feelings and issues of our neighbors.”
Cappleman thanked Weiss at the beginning of his talk, adding that future town halls will take place throughout the ward, in part so that local residents familiarize themselves with their community and in part to encourage participation.
From there, Cappleman addressed the issues quickly, first discussing the proposed Walmart Express that will open at 3636 N. Broadway St. The store divides many residents. Some, including Judy Dry, like the possibility that Walmart may increase local employment. Others fear that the store will cause local, independently owned businesses to shutter.
“I made this very clear to Walmart executives: I am not a fan of Walmart, but this is not about me,” Cappleman said.
He hopes to ensure that the business melds with the community through actions such as specific signage and employment of ward residents. Cappleman also has spoken with other aldermen with Walmarts in their wards and is researching how the business has interacted with its neighbors.
Cappleman then spoke about the vacant building erected seven years ago as part of Chicago Lakeshore Hospital, 4840 N. Marine Dr. The building remains unoccupied, but plans are in place to use it as an adolescent psychiatry ward.
“This is something that Alderman (Helen) Schiller supported, so I’m not going to stop it,” Cappleman said.
As the meeting continued, Cappleman addressed the project closest to his heart—the Wilson Avenue “L” stop. Three years ago, the Red Eye voted Wilson the worst of the red line stations.
“I was very upset by that. A lot of you were too,” Cappleman said.
Currently, he added, the city is considering four basic approaches to the red line. They include:
- Leaving it as is.
- Aggressively encouraging foot traffic through retail.
- Making the line faster, which may involve purchasing property and eliminating stops.
- Moving the line underground.
Working with community organizations, the CTA, outside private funding, state and federal dollars, and Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds, Cappleman said he envisions the Wilson stop as the anchor for a bustling commercial district, where people from Rogers Park through downtown and beyond will come to do their shopping.
“This will be a very tough project, but I am committed and the mayor knows I’m committed,” Cappleman said.
To read more about the 46th ward town hall meeting, check out part II of our blog coverage or visit Alderman Cappleman’s website.