Holiday Time in The Piazza 2013
With a flip of a switch -- more like a connection of an extension cord -- a 16-foot balsam Christmas tree was lit during Little Italy's first Holiday in the Piazza Sunday, Dec. 1. The crowd of neighborhood residents cheered at what looks like will be an annual event.
Samuel Delgado, manager of Starbucks, 1430 W. Taylor St., approached the University Village Association with the idea, which was embraced and generously sponsored by the local business community.
Organized by the UVA, business sponsors included: Pompei, Hawkeye's Bar & Grill, Taylor Made DJ's, The Rosebud, Conte Di Savoia, Scafuri Bakery, RoSal's Italian Cucina, The Coffee Alley, Pat Iannino and Bob Pistilli of Carana Properties and Paul Rinaldi of Chiarugi Hardware.
"It was great to see local businesses and residents come together with no agenda other than to promote community spirit," Delgado said.
Residents demonstrated their generous spirit with the amount of toys they brought, which will be donated to Marillac Center and Holy Family Church.
If you were unable to make the festivities, you still have an opportunity to donate through Dec. 16. You may bring unwrapped new toys to RoSal's, 1154 W. Taylor St., Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. You can also drop them off at The Coffee Alley, 1152 W. Taylor St., Monday through Thursday between 6:30 a.m. and 9 p.m., Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
As for next year, Delgado said, "I can't wait. It's going to be bigger and better."
For more pictures of this year's celebration, please click on the Memories tab just above this story.
CTA seeks comments on environmental assessment for Ashland BRT
In the next phase of planning for its Ashland Avenue bus rapid transit (BRT) project, the CTA has released and is seeking public input on the environmental assessment (EA) it did over the summer, according to the CTA Tattler.
For those unfamiliar with BRT, the main features of the 16-mile-long project from on Ashland from Irving Park to 95th Street include:
- Dedicated center running bus-only lane in each direction to keep buses out of general traffic
- Limited stops: approximately every half-mile and at CTA stations
- Transit Signal Priority intersections and longer green lights to keep traffic moving
- Potential for paying fares at the station before boarding, similar to 'L' stations
- Wide doors on left side of new, high-capacity vehiclesReal-time bus arrival information at stations
- Improved lighting at stationsADA ramps at stations
- Maintains most existing medians
- Adds more than 75 blocks of new landscaped medians
- Retains approximately 90% of parking and loading zones on both sides of the street
In order to accommodate BRT, the following adjustments would occur, with some impacts to general traffic:
- Dedicating two general travel lanes (one in each direction) as center-running bus-only lanes, typically leaving one in each direction.
- Two auto travel lanes in each direction will remain where there are currently three travel lanes (between Lake Street and Roosevelt Road).
- Small reduction in parking; approximately 90% of parking and loading zones retained on both sides of the street.
- Most left turns removed; left turns at highway access points retained.
Over the summer, CTA and CDOT heard from various key stakeholders about this plan, including business owners who were opposed to the removal of the left turns. Thus, CTA and CDOT are considering options and modifications, including the implementation of additional left turns, based on continued feedback from the public.
The public hearings are set for 6 to 8 p.m. on:
- Dec. 10 at Benito Juarez Community Academy, 1450 W. Cermak Road
- Dec. 11 at Pulaski Park Fieldhouse, 1419 W. Blackhawk Street
Roosevelt Branch Library collecting food
Holiday food drive continues through Dec. 14
The staff of the Roosevelt Branch of the Chicago Public Library is asking the neighborhood to bring non-perishable foods and canned goods to the library, 1101 W. Taylor St. The donations will be given to the Greater Chicago Food Depository as a way to fight hunger in Chicago.
No cash donations, please, but here are some ideas of food you can donate:
- Canned Fruit and Veggies
- Chili, Soup and Stew
- Macaroni and Cheese
- Pasta and Pasta Sauce
- Shelf-Stable Milk
City approves new liquor store for Taylor Street
The Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals approved a special use permit, which allows Mukesh (Mike) Sharma to open a high-end wine and spirits store at 1455 W. Taylor St.
The board issued its 4-0 ruling online Tuesday, Nov. 19 after hearing testimony Friday, Nov. 15 from UVA Executive Director Kathy Catrambone, Sharma and his attorney.
Ald. Jason C. Ervin (D-28th) supported the measure, but with two pages of restrictions and stipulations that Sharma will have to honor. The restrictions and stipulations cover matters such as the price, type and size of liquor and tobacco products including cigars and cigarettes; the hours of operation and the name of the store.
The name will be Michael's Wine and Spirits and the store will be open the same hours as Gentile's Wine Shop, 1160 W. Taylor St.: noon to 10 p.m. Monday-Wednesday; noon to 11 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. These are changes to Sharma's original proposal for Mike's Wines and Spirits, and hours of 10 a.m. to midnight.
UVA's testimony included petitions and letters from local residents, businesses and representatives of STEM Magnet Academy, all in opposition of the store.
New food pantry opens at VA hospital
Little Italy residents’ donations can help feed American vets
In the midst of the all the heartwarming news coverage this Veterans Day, one story is particularly poignant.
Some of this country's veterans do not get enough to eat. According to a story by DNAinfo.com, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, working with the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in the Illinois Medical District and AmeriCorps, cut the ribbon Monday, Nov. 11 unveiling a food pantry built to serve those who served. The pantry expects to provide food for 800 veterans per month.
"This is a day that traditionally we have in this country taken a moment to reflect on what the men and women who have served in the military have given and what that means for us as a country," Kate Maehr, executive director and CEO of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, told DNAinfo.com. "I think it's really important that when we have that reflection we also talk about the reality that sometimes doesn't get talked about."
Maehr was talking about the thousands of veterans in the community who are suffering from hunger along with poverty, homelessness and mental health issues.
The pantry is located on the second floor of the Damen Pavilion in the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, 820 S. Damen Ave. It will be open every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Donations are welcomed from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. The public is asked to go through the Damen Avenue entrance of the building and visit the Volunteer Office on the fourth floor in the Taylor building.
David Rogers, 65, who served in the military during the 1960s, called the pantry a "godsend" for fellow veterans and their families. He believed the food pantry could especially help supplement families suffering from reduced government benefits.
"We're so grateful. It goes a long way. Especially on Veterans Day to know that our service is appreciated," Rogers said.
Company coming? Need city parking permits? Buying them has been made easier
If you have a valid Illinois driver license, then you now can purchase residential parking permits online.
Chicago City Clerk Susana A. Mendoza has introduced a new sales system for the residential permit parking program with the goal of saving city residents as many as 30,000 annual in-person visits to sales locations.
Under the new permit program, Illinois Secretary of State records are now matched to individuals who live in a residential permit parking zone. With a valid, up-to-date Illinois driver's license, residents can buy online using their driver's license number instead of having to validate residency in-person as in previous years. Read more about the new program here.