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Twenty Austin blocks to be resurfaced, repaired using Ald. Ervin’s menu money

by Ellyn Fortino on March 30, 2012

About 20 blocks in Austin will be resurfaced, street lights improved and curbs fixed as part of Ald. Jason Ervin’s (28th) menu money for the year, the alderman announced at Monday’s ward meeting.

Although there are many streets that need repairing in Austin, Ervin said 20 blocks are the most that can be fixed with available funds.

“There are a number of streets over in the area that we know need resurfacing,” Ervin said at the meeting held at the West Side Learning Center of Malcolm X College, 4620 W. Madison St.

“We don’t have the dollars to hit them all in one year, but we have for us to do 20. This is just in Austin. Mind you, we have East and West Garfield Park, North Lawndale, Little Village, so you all are getting a big chunk of the dollars over here in the Austin community in the 28th Ward.”

He said 20 blocks is a lot in any one area.

“There are a lot of wards that don’t do 20 blocks and, we are doing 20 blocks just in Austin– number one because it needs it, and we want to try to spruce the community up when we can.”

Ervin said streets including Washington, Madison, Jackson, Cicero and Laramie will receive arterial lighting improvements with available menu money. Menu money – which totals about $1 million per ward per yer – is given to aldermen from the city for capital improvements.

Also at the meeting was Austin’s new police Commander Barbara West and 15th Police District Captain Mark Scheithauer.

Ervin reached out to West about a few problem locations in the ward, including the 700 block of North Leclaire Avenue and the 0-100 block of North Leclaire Avenue.

People have been selling drugs and drinking on the streets, West said.

Since learning about the problem areas, West has assigned a tactical team to those locations.

“Of course, it’s going to require some community involvement, because as you know … once we leave a location open, the next seller is going to try to take it over and re-establish it, and that’s why we need the community to step in,” West said.

In addition, West said teenagers are beginning to gather at night on the streets in the ward.

If residents see a congregation of people on the streets, West said they should call 911 before more people show up.

“You know what’s about to happen,” she said. “Cars start rolling up, and then the music blares up, and then they are partying in the middle of the street.”

The 15th Police District also sent a tactical team to a troubled building at 716 N. Leclaire Ave. and officers have made a few arrests, said Scheithauer.

“There is a city program called Troubled Buildings, and what we need to do is turn it over to them and get them involved in the investigation of who owns this building,” he said.

He said if the community can’t get the illegal activity out of there with straightforward community pressure and police, “then we use other means.”

“If that means we close that building down because it’s unsafe for whatever reason, then that’s the tool that we’re going to use,” he said.

Eileen Jackson, 28th Ward superintendent from the city’s streets and sanitation department, said the recent warm weather has allowed for more cleanup crews around the neighborhood picking up trash and debris in alleys.

“As a whole, I think the ward is coming along as far as looking clean,” Jackson said.

“This year we had a pretty good winter, so we were able to get all of the city equipment in the ward to have them clean it up.”

She and Ervin said there is still more cleanup to do in the ward.

Ervin asked the people in the community to volunteer for Chicago’s city wide Clean and Green volunteer cleanup April 21.

Residents need to register for which location they would like to do cleanup by April 13. The city provides garbage bags and other necessary tools. To register for the cleanup or to learn more, call 311.

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