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2014: Year in Review

Dear Friends,

 

2014 was another successful year for our community!  Working together, we secured vital funding for our public schools, created new public parks and open space, repaired a significant amount of public infrastructure, worked with the Chicago Police Department to enhance public safety, and promoted economic development to continue to make our community the best place to live, work, shop and be entertained in the City of Chicago.

 

Education and Children

  • Spearheaded efforts to address overcrowding at Lincoln Elementary School and achieved state funding for a new annex to be completed by the fall of 2015, ensuring Lincoln Elementary remains a top school for years to come. 
  • To ensure adequate capacity measures are in place during annex construction, secured another year of temporary quarters from DePaul University for Lincoln Elementary students.
  • Worked with Chicago Public Schools to implement a "Wall-to-Wall" International Baccalaureate program at Lincoln Park High School for all grades.

Parks and Open Space

  • In coordination with local Alcott College Prep parents, secured $1.5 million in State, City and local funding to build the  Alcott School "Field of Dreams" which will include a baseball/soccer field, basketball courts, a track, and a new playground for students and community members to enjoy.
  • Fully renovated Goudy Square Playlot Park in the Gold Coast to ensure its use for future generations of children.
  • Work began on the Fullerton Shoreline Revetment project, which will result in nearly 6 acres of new lakefront open space, full separation of bicycle and pedestrian pathways, and rehabilitation of the shoreline to protect against erosion.
  • Full renovation of the tremendously deteriorated pedestrian underpasses at the intersections of Belden and Stockton, Deming and Stockton, Dickens and Stockton to provide safe and convenient access to the Lakefront.

Infrastructure Improvements

  • Worked with the Governor's Office to obtain state funding for full resurfacing of Lincoln Avenue between Webster and Wells Streets, as well as between Fullerton Avenue and Diversey Parkway.
  • Resurfaced 42 blocks to repair the damage done by last winter's "polar vortex", including State Parkway, large portions of Stockton Drive and dozens of side streets.
  • Installed 15 additional in-road pedestrian stop signs at heavily traveled intersections to enhance pedestrian safety.
  • Installed 7,771 feet of new water mains to replace dilapidated infrastructure and increase carrying capacity.
  • Installed 4,643 feet of new sewer main to upgrade outdated mains, as well as another 5,500 feet of sewer lining in existing lines to reduce frequency of breakages.
  • Fully repaired the intersection of Fullerton and Racine Avenue.
  • Processed 26,347 service requests including: 2,149 potholes, 575 graffiti removals, 893 rodent baitings, 562 individual lights out, 380 full blocks of lights out, 181 crosswalk and lane re-stripings, 345 catch basin cleanings, 374 tree trims and 275 sidewalk inspections for repair.

Community Advocacy and Preservation

  • Worked closely with state representatives and organized lakefront aldermen to defeat the sprinkler mandate proposal that would have burdened multi-unit buildings with a cost prohibitive - and unnecessary - mandate.
  • Preserved the historic buildings at the intersection of Willow & Halsted Street, resulting in sale to a developer intending to operate the site as it is currently built.
  • Downzoned property at 20 E. Scott Street to halt potential over-development in the Gold Coast.
  • While supportive of the legalization of medical marijuana to assist those in need, voted against allowing establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries in B-3 zoning districts such as Lincoln Avenue.

Economic Development

  • Approved redevelopment for former Children's Memorial Hospital site to establish new neighborhood crossroads and provide vital economic anchor to offset loss of largest community employer. Plan provides blend of commercial and residential space, an acre of public open space, sidewalk cafes, a children's playground, and preserves the historic appearance of existing buildings.
  • Advocated on behalf of small business owners to draw attention to deleterious impact of patent trolls, which are malicious and meritless lawsuits filed against small businesses and cost the economy billions of dollars annually.
  • Voted against minimum wage increase to $13 an hour which will place local businesses at an economic disadvantage with surrounding municipalities.  I remain supportive of a practical, uniform increase in the wage to $11 an hour.
  • Filed suit against recalcitrant landlords on Clark Street, compelling landlords to invest in their buildings and encouraging them to lease previously vacant retail space.  New retail and restaurants have opened in the area, resulting in vacant storefronts on Clark Street and on the Halsted/Armitage retail corridor being at a four-year low.

Legislative Accomplishments

  • Continued moving City onto sound financial footing by reducing inefficiencies in local government, culminating in a $300 million reduction in City's structural deficit since 2011.
  • Leading co-sponsor of vital ordinance increasing ethical oversight of Chicago City Council seeking to hold members of the City Council to same standards and subject to same investigative powers as every other City employee.
  • Supported funding providing additional maintenance crews to handle essential City services such as tree trimming, rodent abatement and water/pothole repairs that was passed as part of 2015 City Budget. 
  • Continued strong advocacy for comprehensive pension reform. Reform passed for municipal employees and laborers, reducing liabilities by $3 billion dollars.

Public Safety

  • Advanced court advocacy program and stood with community members to take a stand against crime, resulting in longer sentencing for individuals found guilty of criminal acts.
  • Worked closely with the 18th and 19th districts of the Chicago Police Department, resulting in a decrease in criminal activity of more than 10% in our community.
  • Conducted several alley and block surveys with police and local residents and condo associations to increase lighting and make other recommendations
  • Arranged personal safety seminar in the Gold Coast.
  • Worked with 19th District to establish a patrol unit in the 19th District dedicated to homeless outreach.
  • Educated business owners of rights and responsibilities under State's new concealed carry legislation to ensure public safety.

Sincerely,

Michele Signature

 Michele Smith

 43rd Ward Alderman