Summary of WANT Winter Meeting
WANT held its Winter General Meeting on December 10th. We received reports from the Land Use and Zoning Committee and the Garden Committee; WANT's 2013 financials were also reviewed, and President Michael Fick gave a report on the current status of the Trumbull building (which remains unknown, though there was some heartening hints in a local news report that Chicago Public Schools may have a re-use plan for Trumbull). After cleaning house on some administrative tasks, the gathered membership held lively discussion of two current issues in the neighborhood: the traffic on Ravenswood caused by the Rogers Park Montessori School, and the proposed expansion of Passages Charter School to include a high school.
RPMS Traffic Discussion President Fick reported that he had attended a meeting with representatives of Rogers Park Montessori School, Bowmanville Community Organization, Alderman O'Connor's office, and the Chicago Department of Transportation. The CDoT representative refused proposals for a different traffic pattern, as all proposed new routes would require too many left turns for safety. It was proposed instead that restricting parking from 2:30 to 4pm on Ravenswood from Balmoral to Catalpa would ease the congestion.
Several members present raised thoughtful questions regarding this proposal, and after discussion a consensus was reached: instead of accepting the proposed parking restrictions, WANT will poll the residents of the affected blocks to determine their opinions. WANT will also propose a different solution: the cars picking up students should line up on Wolcott facing north, and a school employee should release the line at an appropriate time to allow a smooth flow of traffic down Ravenswood.
Passages Charter School Expansion Discussion President Fick summarized a letter from St. Gregory the Great parish in support of the proposed Passages expansion. Then members weighed in on the question. Several objections to the expansion were voiced, including increased traffic and congestion in the neighborhood (especially with the potential for teenaged drivers to arrive en masse in a quiet residential neighborhood with narrow streets) and the harm that opening another high school in the area may do to our existing high schools, Senn and Amundsen, by draining students and resources from two public schools that have both improved (with Senn rising to a Level 1 school from a Level 3) in recent years.
A vote was taken, and the membership present voted to oppose the expansion of Passages' charter to include a high school, with two abstentions and no votes to support the expansion. It was resolved that the board will craft a letter communicating WANT's position and the bases for it, to be sent to the Board of Education, Mayor Emanuel, and Alderman O'Connor. That letter is available here.
Passages' proposal will be voted on by the Board of Education at its January meeting, which is likely to be held January 22nd if they hold to their current schedule. On the Monday before the meeting, you can register to attend the meeting if you wish to speak to the proposal. The speaker slots fill up very quickly.
The meeting was concluded and everyone enjoyed the sweets from our dessert potluck!