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State of 43rd Ward: Optimism on Economy But No Details on Children's Site

By Paul Biasco | February 7, 2013 7:42am

LINCOLN PARK — Aldermen Michele Smith (43rd), Scott Waguespack (32nd) and Bob Fioretti (2nd) hit a range of topics during Wednesday's State of the Ward luncheon, but when it came to the area's biggest question mark —the old Children's Memorial Hospital site — details were sparse.

The meeting was hosted by the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce and attended by more than 100 business and community leaders who heard from Fioretti for the first time as a portion of his re-drawn ward includes Lincoln Park.

Despite the lack of details on the Children's site, Smith remained optimistic about the year to come and rattled off a number of small businesses that have opened or are set to open in early 2013.

"I really expect this development to be successful," she said. "When McCaffrey Interests comes back with his new plans, I really expect that they will be. I'm sure we will all work together to make that happen..."

There is no timetable for when Smith plans on hearing back from McCaffrey on the reworked plans, according to Matt Rich, Director of Zoning and Urban Development for the 43rd War.

Smith she requested he scale back plans which she deemed too dense in August 2012, and his since said she will not move forward until a solution to reduce overcrowding at Lincoln Elementary is reached.

"Lincoln Avenue is suffering because of the closure of Children's," Smith said during the luncheon.

Another major question in the ward is what will become of the A. Finkl & Sons Co. steel plant, which falls under Waguespack's ward, but will be in Fioretti's when the new ward map goes into effect.

Waguespack said he does not predict any development at the site for at least "a couple years," once Finkl moves all of its facilities to the South Side at the end of the year.

During Fioretti's first address to the Lincoln Park chamber, he emphasized the need for solid neighborhood schools and a stronger police force, calling for 1,000 more officers on the street.

"I don't need to read the front page of the New York Times one more time to hear what is happening in Chicago," he said. "...We can find $100 million to keep our city safe."

The bright spot of the afternoon was the Lincoln Park Chamber's $2,000 donation to the Lakeview Pantry, which came from funds raised during the chamber's December celebration,"The Best Holiday Party Ever."

"This $2,000 gift will allow us to secure 10 tons of food for our neighbors in need, and we thank all chamber members," said Gary Garland, executive director of the Lakeview Pantry.