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Lincoln Park/Old Town Year in Review: 5 Stories That Mattered in 2013

By Paul Biasco | December 30, 2013 9:30am
 The five stories that mattered to locals most in 2013 included the Lincoln Elementary expansion, the slow pace of the redevelopment of the Children's Memorial Hospital site, the saga of Lincoln Park Zoo's baby gorilla, the threatened closure of Manierre Elementary and the death of cyclist Bobby Cann.
2013 Year in Review, Lincoln Park and Old Town
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LINCOLN PARK — What to do with overutilized and underutilized schools as well as the implications of major residential developments dominated discussions in Lincoln Park and Old Town over the past year. 

The neighborhoods largely were in the planning stages during 2013 for multiple major projects that will begin to take shape in the coming years.

Here are five things that mattered in Lincoln Park and Old Town in 2013.

1. Lincoln Elementary Gets Overcrowding Fix: After two-plus years of residents petitioning the Chicago Board of Education and with the support of Ald. Michele Smith (43rd), Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced in November plans for a 19-classroom addition to be built onto Lincoln Elementary. The plan was not accepted by the entire community, and a fist fight broke out at one meeting. The addition is expected to be ready for the 2015-2016 school year.

2. Children's Memorial Development Lurches Forward: The largest and arguably most important development project in Lincoln Park was stalled for nearly all of 2013 until McCaffery Interests released slimmed down renderings just before the end of the year. The vacant hospital site has resulted in struggling businesses along the once vibrant Lincoln Avenue corridor. The project is expected to generate $122 million in tax dollars for the city over a 20-year period, according to a consultant's analysis.

3. Newborn Gorilla Makes Full Recovery: Much of the city followed the story of Lincoln Park Zoo's newborn gorilla Nayembi from her birth to her serious injury and painstakingly long recovery. Nayembi, who suffered a serious facial injury in February, was on the mend until August. The zoo released a video of the young gorilla eating a piece of broccoli to make sure her fans kept up with her progress. The entire effort involved 186 days of around-the-clock care at a total cost of $107,508, according to the zoo.

4. Manierre Elementary Saved From Closing: Old Town's Manierre Elementary was included on the list of 54 schools set to be shuttered by Chicago Public Schools at the end of the school year, but parents of the school refused to let that happen. A DNAinfo Chicago Special Report laid out neighborhood fears of increased violence if Manierre was closed, and parents marched on City Hall. CPS reversed course on Manierre in May when it announced its decision to take the school off the chopping block.

5. Bobby Cann Killed in Bike Crash: In May, 26-year-old Bobby Cann was struck and killed on his bike while riding home from his job at Groupon. There was an outpouring of support from the bicycling community, which honored Cann during a Critical Mass ride. The driver accused of hitting Cann was charged with driving under the influence, and the city now has plans to install protected bike lanes on the street where the crash occurred.