Wanted: Your Solutions for Curbing Bad Behavior in Wicker Park's Park

By Alisa Hauser on February 21, 2013 9:06am 

 At its February meeting, volunteer members of the Wicker Park Advisory Council voted 14-1 in favor of removing four chess tables from the park at 1425 N. Damen Ave.
At its February meeting, volunteer members of the Wicker Park Advisory Council voted 14-1 in favor of removing four chess tables from the park at 1425 N. Damen Ave.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

WICKER PARK — Unwanted behavior inside Wicker Park, including a controversy with chess tables that critics say draw unruly homeless people, is the subject of an upcoming public meeting March 5.

Hosted by the volunteer-run park advisory council, the purpose of the meeting is to "present solutions for better enforcing the Chicago Park District's code of conduct" in all areas of Wicker Park and for the benefit of all park patrons.

Ongoing code of conduct violations plaguing the park, identified by advisory council secretary Doug Wood, include "drinking, drug use, drug sales, harassment and vandalism."

Anyone from the public who wishes to present a solution on how to curb the unwelcome conduct will be given two minutes to do so during a structured 30-minute segment of the meeting, with RSVPS being requested in advance, via email.

After the meeting was announced by Wood Wednesday, Teddy Varndell, president of the Wicker Park Committee, wrote into DNAinfo Chicago to say that he's, "glad to see that the focus of the meeting has become the enforcement of the Park District's Code of Conduct and not the removal of park facilities, i.e. the game tables at the southwest entrance to the park."

Varndell was referring to the four chess tables on the southwestern end of the park, at the corner of Damen Avenue and Schiller St. that caused a stir after the council voted nearly unanimously earlier this month to remove them.

The plan to remove the tables was halted by Ald. Joe Moreno (1st), who requested that a community discussion take place.

Moreno was unable to be reached for comment on the meeting.

Architect Sam Marts was walking to a Special Service Area meeting in the park field house Wednesday.

"Hopefully people will come out [on March 5] that use the park. The fact the meeting will be open to as many people as possible is a good thing. It's not like three people in a back room are deciding to something with nobody watching," Marts said.

 The fountain in Wicker Park is a popular hangout for many park patrons during the summer months.
The fountain in Wicker Park is a popular hangout for many park patrons during the summer months.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

A four-page "Code of Conduct" document on the Chicago Park District's website outlines examples of conditions that have been developed to make park programs safe and enjoyable, such as a required screening process for individuals who have "regular, repetitive access or contact with youth," as well as park behavior standards and examples of violations. 

Code of Conduct violations are divided into three categories, with public intoxication and possession or sale of alcohol or drugs considered to be "Category 1" offenses.

Category 1 violations are the most serious and could result in an order of protection barring patrons from participating in programming or being on park district grounds.

The meeting will take place in the park field house 7 to 9 p.m., with the following agenda planned:

From 7 to 8 p.m., Ald. Joe Moreno (1st), Park District officials and the advisory council will give a presentation, followed by 30 minutes of public comment, limited to 2 minutes per person, with RSVPs requested in advance to Doug.Wood@WickerPark.org.

From 8 to 9 p.m. there will be a brief meeting to share updates on 2013 events produced by the council and its community partners in collaboration with the park district.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement