For the past two years, Gloria Beasley has watched with growing frustration as the alley behind her townhouse has become clogged with trash cans. Adding to her annoyance: She says her complaints to the 28th Ward office have gone unanswered.
But an inquiry by AustinTalks to 28th Ward Ald. Jason Ervin’s office garnered a quick response Monday, with the newly appointed alderman who’s campaigning for a full four-year term promising to send fliers to the affected residents.
Beasley, who lives in the 5000 block of West Jackson Boulevard, said neighbors used to keep trash receptacles tucked away neatly behind their fences, only dragging them out for garbage pick-up on Mondays. But as old neighbors moved out and new ones moved in, she said, the situation out back has gotten messier and messier – and it’s indicative of bigger problems in the neighborhood.
“I’m concerned because I own my townhouse,” said Beasley, 60, adding that she’s lived on the block for 18 years. “It’s unsightly. It looks terrible.”
Residents, many of whom use garages and parking spaces in the alley because of parking restrictions on the street, are forced to play a game of Frogger as they drive past one another, she said. And garbage often litters the area, she said, the result of scavenging people tipping over the trash cans.
Beasley said she’s tried at least three times in the past six months to contact former Ald. Ed Smith – twice by e-mail and once by sending a letter to the ward office. She said she never got a response.
Shortly after AustinTalks contacted Ervin’s office this week, Beasley said she received a phone call from the alderman from his Maywood village office offering to send mailers to residents of her block and the 5000 block of West Gladys Avenue, which shares the alley.
Ervin – who was appointed this month to fill a temporary vacancy created by Smith’s resignation and is one of four candidates running in the Feb. 22 election – listed “quality delivery of services” among his top three priorities for the ward in a recent interview with AustinTalks.
“I think one of the biggest challenges that has existed has been effective communication,” Ervin said, responding to a question about how he would run the ward differently than Smith, his longtime predecessor and political mentor.
Ervin spokesman Larry Shapiro said he had not heard complaints about other alleys throughout the ward. He said he believed Beasley’s problem was unique because of the parking restrictions on Jackson Boulevard. He said residents with concerns should call the 28th Ward office at 773-533-0900 or e-mail the alderman at Jason.Ervin@cityofchicago.org.
Beasley, shortly after her talk with the alderman, acknowledged that Ervin’s quick response could be due to the fact that he is “an interim alderman who wants to remain where he is.”
Still, she said, she’s hopeful that neighbors will take his warning to heart – though she still has big concerns about her block’s future.
“The neighborhood is changing,” Beasley said. “It used to be someplace you wanted to live. Now it’s somewhere you want to get away from.”
“I love my house,” she added. “I just want to put it somewhere else.”