UPTOWN — Ald. James Cappleman (46th) has vowed to help residents who are outraged after the street in front of their low-income high-rise was turned into paid parking — which they said sometimes forces them to park in dangerous gang territory.
Cappleman, whose ward includes Eastwood Towers, 4640 N. Sheridan Road, introduced an ordinance in City Council this week that would remove the six metered spaces along Sheridan Road from Eastwood Avenue to Leland Avenue, according to Tressa Feher, Cappleman's chief of staff.
The city supports efforts to remove the meters and helped draft that ordinance, according to Susan Hofer, a spokesman for the city's finance department.
It's welcome news for residents living in the low-income building, who say they can't afford to pay the parking meters and the only other nearby non-metered parking is a few blocks away in either direction, where there is heightened gang violence.
"This is a war zone. If you got to park your car on Wilson [Avenue] or Leland [Avenue] ... stray bullets have no names on them," said Lilly Hicks, who has lived in the Eastwood Towers for 27 years. "Anything can happen to you when you park far away. My company hates to come here."
By parking a few blocks away in either direction on Sheridan Road, residents are putting themselves in gang territory, she said.
"Down on this end [toward Leland Avenue] it's the Gangster Disciples, and toward Wilson [Avenue] it's the Conservative Vice Lords," said Hicks, adding that her kitchen window overlooks the corner of Leland Avenue and Kenmore Avenue, which is a known drug dealing corner.
"You couldn't pay me to turn that corner," she said.
Mina Bloom discusses the Uptown meter issue:
Another reason why the meters should be removed: a lot of elderly and sick people live in the building, according to Melinda Baker.
She said residents should be able to park in front for a few minutes to help those in need pop inside without running the risk of getting a ticket.
"By the time you get inside, you have a ticket," she said. "It's not right."
The meters were installed on the stretch of Sheridan Road a little less than a year ago as part of the city's revised parking meter deal that brought free Sunday parking in most neighborhoods but also extended meter times in others, according to a spokesman for the city's finance department.
But that installation didn't mark the first time that people had to pay to park on the stretch of Sheridan Road.
The stretch had metered parking except from 2008 until a little less than a year ago, the spokesman said. The meters were removed in part due to construction on the street, the spokesman said.
After meeting with residents a week or so ago, the alderman has vowed to help.
"These meters will be removed from this location," Feher said in an email.
If the ordinance passes, the six metered spaces will be moved somewhere else — "just as they were moved to this spot from some other location," she said.
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