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Residents Work to Rid Park of Crime, Recreate Civic Group

By Heather Cherone | December 20, 2012 7:59am
 The North Edgebrook Civic Association has been working to clean up Wildwood Park.
The North Edgebrook Civic Association has been working to clean up Wildwood Park.
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DNAInfo/Heather Cherone

NORTH EDGEBROOK — After being inactive for two years, the North Edgebrook Civic Association has reformed and is looking to tackle several crime and safety issues around Wildwood Park.

Last month, the association elected new board members and launched an effort to rid Wildwood Park of teens drinking, doing drugs and loitering in the park after closing time.

“We want a park we can all share,” said association President Erick Robertson, who along with a dozen other North Edgebrook residents, has been walking through the park at 11 p.m. to make sure it is empty.

“We wanted to send a message to the kids that they crossed a line,” Robertson said. “We want a park we can all share.”

Officers from the Jefferson Park (16th) Police District have stepped up patrols in response to complaints, and have promised to keep an eye on the park, Robertson said.

The association is also working with Chicago Park District officials to create more programs for high school students at the park, which is within walking distance of both St. Mary of the Woods school and Wildwood Elementary School.

“We want to give them a positive reason to respect the park,” Robertson said.

Membership dues for the association — which represents about 800 homes bounded by  Caldwell Avenue on the west, Mendota Avenue on the south, Lehigh Avenue on the east, Touhy Avenue on the north and Meade, Sherwin and McVicker avenues north of Touhy — are $25 a year, and the group uses the money to plow the streets after it snows and to maintain signs and two common areas -- the island on McAlpin Avenue at Hiawatha Avenue and the triangle at Caldwell and Estes avenues.

“We just want the best community,” said Robertson, who has lived in Edgebrook since 1999. His house belonged to his grandmother, who moved there in 1959.

Next spring and summer, Robertson said he hoped there would be more block parties and other social events.

In November, the association collected food for the Franciscan House of Mary & Joseph on the near West Side.

The association is also helping create a mural along a path that runs under the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and connects Edgebrook, North Edgebrook and Wildwood.

Kara Johnson, the association’s new secretary, is one of many newcomers to the neighborhood. She and her husband bought a house in North Edgebrook after a citywide-search for a new home for their growing family.

“When you have a kid, you want to invest in the neighborhood,” Johnson said, adding that she hopes the association will have a “snowball effect” in encouraging more connections between neighbors.