Wrigley Field Renovations: Neighbors Demand Details in Fear of Rushed Deal
LAKEVIEW — An organization representing Lakeview neighborhood groups sent Wrigley Field renovation demands to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) on Wednesday in fear of a rushed deal getting passed without more detail from the Cubs.
Proposals still lack crucial information about parking, security and night games, said Will DeMille, the president of Lake View Citizens' Council, which sent the letter. The group sent a similar letter last year and pushed a version out this week in light of calls from the Cubs and City Hall for a speedy timeline.
"Why rush to get it approved when 15 to 20 percent of details impacting people living around the field haven’t been determined yet?" he said at Wednesday's Triangle Neighbors meeting, which was also attended by Tunney staffer Erin Duffy and Cubs community affairs representative Jennifer Dedes Nowak.
With increasing news about the project coming from downtown, some neighbors fear their concerns are being shut out in favor of negotiations between the mayor and Cubs' owner Tom Ricketts.
A number of area residents had seen development plans months before the Cubs Convention, since Dedes Nowak has been previewing them at neighborhood meetings.
But the devil's in the details, neighbors said.
For example, developing the triangle property near the field as a community plaza for retail, farmers markets, movies and other public events has been widely applauded. Previously, the Cubs planned to build a parking lot there but said they reevaluated that after neighbors said they wanted community space. And many in the area have said a hotel is needed in the neighborhood.
But the lack of an accompanying parking and traffic plan irks many neighbors. The group wants more details to evaluate so that the plan can move forward, DeMille said.
"Let’s get those parking and traffic recommendations brought forward so that when we see those remaining 15 percent of details," DeMille said. "Then we can say: 'We fully support this, or this is what needs to be tweaked.' "
The letter is based on thoughts from last month's Lake View Citizens' Council board meeting, which Cubs representatives attended, DeMille said. Cubs representatives were also on the board that wrote last year's LVCC letter.
The group, representing 10 neighborhood organizations, reiterated a request in the letter to limit the number of night games to 33 and concerts to four. They request that the rooftops and the Cubs' agreement stay in place or "be revised amicably by both parties."
It also called on the city to show how police and private security can control crowds, including how Town Hall Police District's new entertainment detail will be used after games and how the Cubs could provide additional security.
This year's letter will be posted on the Citizens' Council website soon, DeMille said. Tunney has publicly supported many of demands from the document, including requests for details on parking and security. It was also sent to Ald. James Cappleman (46th), Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th), Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) and Mike Lufrano, the Cubs' executive vice president of community affairs.
In response, Dedes Nowak reiterated Cubs' dedication to community input, referencing the changes in triangle property plans. Plus, the new plan for the hotel, previously shown to be a glass, L-shaped building, will be "a lot prettier" and fit into the neighborhood more. She'll be previewing the new renderings to neighbors in the coming months, she said.
"We're here to work for you," Nowak said. "A lot of these plans are actually your plans. We're trying to do what's right for everybody."
The Cubs and Wrigley Field are 95 percent owned by a trust established for the benefit of the family of Joe Ricketts, owner and CEO of DNAinfo.com. Joe Ricketts has no direct involvement in the team's day-to-day operations.