NUNA General Meeting
February 4, 2015
Meeting called to order at 6:06 pm. 47th Ward Alderman Pawar, and his chief of staff, Jim Poole, introduced.
Pawar: Most of NUNA will be officially part of the 47th ward after February 24, 2015.
Pawar: We organize our community around our schools and we have a great stock of elementary schools in the 47th ward. People move to our ward because of our elementary schools. Around grades 4-7, families begin to move out of the city because the children don’t get into the top high schools. We are starting to organize around Lakeview and Amundsen high schools. Everyone in the ward, whether they have children or not, has an interest in having good area schools, as it affects property values.
Pawar: The Lawrence Avenue streetscape project has increased economic activity on Lawrence, including new restaurants and retail.
Pawar is on the minimum wage task force and passed ordinance to preserve and protect SROs (Single Room Occupancy dwellings).
Question from attendee:
Q: NUNA is not assigned to 47th ward schools. A: School boundaries don’t match ward boundaries, true. Working on trying to make school more regional. Senn High School has been a tremendous success with their wall-to-wall IB program. They have seen more buy-in from the community and more kids from the area attending Senn. Lakeview and Amundsen to be more viable options for kids who don’t get into the selective enrollment high schools.
Discussion of Marijuana Dispensary
Poole, Pawar: Zoning Board of Appeals will have hearing at 2/20/15 meeting. Pawar supports dispensary and medical marijuana in general. Believes this will ease pain for sick people, though a narrow group will really benefit. Patients have to select a single dispensary and there are two licenses in Lakeview Township.
WFCW block club voted in support of the dispensary, 35-17.
Q: Cash-only business bother me because of crime, also no parking. A: Some banks have said they will do business with dispensary. Pawar believes restrictions will ease as tobacco and pharmaceutical industries get involved. There is metered parking in area and handicapped spot across the street. We have a process for creating permit parking and can address that as necessary.
Q: A lot of empty storefronts in the area. How will dispensary affect that? A: Pawar thinks it will help. Clark from Foster to Lawrence has struggled. Development across from St. Boniface is now complete; a language school is there now. Rents in Andersonville are up, so businesses are looking further south, and Lawrence is now attractive. No one has said they would not open in the area because of the dispensary. However, this is not going to kickstart Clark Avenue, either.
Q: If the dispensary becomes a problem, what recourse do we have? A: The state license has strict regulations, as does the city. If there is an adverse impact we will work with you.
Q: Why do we need a special store for one drug? A: Pawar believes that this is partly due to the state handling this issue without federal oversight. He believes it will change if the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries get involved.
Q: What if the law loosens and allows for recreational use? Will the involvement of the pharmaceutical industry put this dispensary out of business? A: It must operate within the law. There are a lot of regulations that make it difficult for them to do business. It may be put out of business in the future. Currently the ZBA will be granting permits only for the addresses under consideration.
Q: What is the vetting process for those granted licenses? A: The state has a Medical Marijuana Czar for this. The new governor approved a batch of these licenses, including this one.
Q: Will there be employment opportunities for the neighborhood? A: They will have a handful of retail employees.
Pawar understands that this dispensary is new and unknown. The alderman’s office goes through the same things with tavern licenses, making sure to vet those with the community.
Snow plowing – Pawar: The policy is to plow the arterials first, then the side streets once snow stops. With the most recent snow storm, it snowed for 29 hours. The snow packs, then the temperature drops below 15 degrees and salting doesn’t work. Should the policy change so that side streets are plowed earlier? Each plow driver has a route to follow. If there is a problem, call our office. Trash pick up will probably be delayed. The plows should be clearing the bike lanes as well as the car lanes.
Q: What is the city’s policy on plowing the alleys? A: The city does not plow the alleys. There is nowhere to put the snow without plowing some people into their garages. The city will plow snow from the aprons of the alley.
Stop signs on Magnolia – Pawar: There are ways to increase enforcement, including extra policing, raised crosswalks and murals in the intersection. A mural could be a good community project.
Magnolia & Lawrence intersection – Poole: We’ve asked CDOT for mock-ups to improve that area and should see these in April. The city will want a maintenance agreement from NUNA. We will look at options.