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Wrigleyville Residents Voice Concerns Ahead of Cubs Opening Day

By Ariel Cheung | March 6, 2015 8:34am
 One month before Opening Day, Wrigley Field renovations are slightly behind schedule after a cold winter delayed steel work.
Check Out Wrigley Field One Month Before Opening Day
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WRIGLEYVILLE — Despite the city's insistence that Wrigleyville residents like Kay Hague would object to additional construction work time to complete renovations to Wrigley Field, she says she wouldn't have minded a little extra noise.

"I am willing to deal with short-term inconveniences in order for the Cubs to complete the construction. It's what needs to be done," Hague told DNAinfo Chicago.

Although both the city and Ald. Tom Tunney rejected the Chicago Cubs' proposal for around-the-clock construction work, Hague said she would prefer the renovations be completed sooner than later, no matter the cost.

But Hague's opinion was an outlier at Thursday's meeting of Wrigleyville community members and officials from the Cubs, city and police.

 Wrigley Field in Wrigleyville
Wrigley Field in Wrigleyville
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The annual meeting offers neighbors a chance to voice concerns for the upcoming baseball season — and with the ongoing Wrigley Field renovations, concerns were not in short supply.

"The rats: They're everywhere. The buses: I have yet to see a credible plan. We're four weeks out from Opening Day — why isn't all of this done?" said Lakeview resident Terie Kata. "Somebody better get moving here."

Other residents complained of heavy construction trucks causing "canyons" in the road and were promised that pot hole crews would repair the damage in the coming weeks. Construction noise and aftermath was a big concern for some residents, while others focused on more routine issues that pop up everu year.

Southport Neighbors Association President Jill Peters demanded a commitment for additional security during games, which she said was previously promised to neighbors.

"I want to hear you'll be working together to fulfill that obligation," Peters said.

Peters was also concerned that one of four Wrigley Field concerts — the Sept. 15 AC/DC show — was scheduled for a school night.

"There are little children sleeping in the neighborhood, and it has a real impact on them," Peters said. "You have a carte blanche to have concerts on whatever nights you can schedule them, but you're announcing these before anyone in the community is aware of the dates."

Mike Lufrano, Cubs vice president of community affairs, suggested reinstating a Lake View Citizens Council committee dedicated to working with the Cubs on issues like concert dates. Lufrano said the ability to set concert dates without neighborhood approval was a huge asset in attracting bands.

At the start of the meeting, Lufrano highlighted the Cubs' community investments over the past year, which totalled $4.5 million. Among major projects was the Kerry Wood Cubs Field at Lane Technical High School, which is expected to be open for use at the beginning of April, and the Mary Donahue Park.

Lufrano also explained several changes during the 2014 baseball season, including relocating the remote parking operation to the Basic Wire & Cable parking lot near Irving Park Road and Western Avenue.

 A model of the renovated Wrigley Field was on display Monday, March 2, 2015, one month before Opening Day for the Chicago Cubs. Renovations have been ongoing since the end of last season, but the Cubs said the cold winter delayed some construction work.
A model of the renovated Wrigley Field was on display Monday, March 2, 2015, one month before Opening Day for the Chicago Cubs. Renovations have been ongoing since the end of last season, but the Cubs said the cold winter delayed some construction work.
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Ariel Cheung/DNAinfo Chicago

The change will still be in place for the 2015 season, and Lufrano said he expects even more usage than the 47,000 fans who parked there last year.

Lufrano said the Blue Lot would be exclusively for team parking and officical Cubs vehicles. The ballpark's original groundskeeper's cottage is temporarily on the lot while it is restored, but it will return to its original location afterward.

Chicago Police 19th District Commander Elias Voulgaris assured neighbors that police would continue to focus on nuisances like public urination and drinking in public. He said he would also concentrate more on neighborhood issues like illegal parking and fans walking into nearby yards.

"The main thing is communication. Especially if you don't get a fast response for whatever reason, feel free to call me. I'll make sure any issue is taken care of," Voulgaris said.


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