HUMBOLDT PARK — Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) is calling on the city to reconsider the activation of a speed camera that was installed a year ago near an infrequently used play lot.
The newly activated camera is near the Keystone Playlot, a small park that Maldonado says is not regularly used by kids in the neighborhood and is controlled by gangs.
The actual location of the camera is near a viaduct along Pulaski Road about a 1½ blocks from the park.
"To justify the installation of those speed cameras on the basis of safety of kids, it just doesn't fly," Maldonado said.
Maldonado said the playground that serves as justification for the park is a small playlot that he would not consider a park.
"That is a big stretch to try to define Keystone Playground as a park," the alderman said. "It's a money grab."
The camera was installed about a year ago, but had not been activated until this week, according to Maldonado.
The alderman said he originally fought the city over that location, but was told last week that upon further review data suggested it should be activated.
"I said 'I don't know where you are getting your data'," Maldonado said. "You have your data, but I think this is an over-stretch."
Maldonado instead urged the city to move the camera to an area near Cortland and Pulaski to protect school children crossing to attend McAuliffe Elementary.
He listed a number of complaints about the location of the camera at 1750 N. Pulaski Road in an email to constituents Tuesday as to why it's the wrong spot including:
• The Keystone Playlot is infrequently used by neighborhood children.
• The only pedestrian path to the playlot from children living east of Pulaski is to walk 1-2 blocks south to Wabansia. Or children could walk 1-2 blocks north to Cortland and then walk 2½ blocks south to Wabansia.
• There are no street intersections and no pedestrian crossings in the 1700 through 1800 blocks of Pulaski, due to the old rail tracks.
Residents near the area where the camera is location said drivers already slow down at that area because the roadway dips under the viaduct.
"People usually slow down here anyways," 32-year-old Sammy Alvarado said. "All those cameras are b-------. It's money."
The camera is only facing southbound cars on Pulaski.
Another neighbor, Tiyana Townsend, said residents in the area do cross the busy street to get to the bus stop, but she said there are not a lot of children in the area.
"I don't believe there's a lot of kids running around here," Townsend said. "It's definitely for revenue. It's not a good location."
Maldonado said one of his first acts as alderman was to install speed bumps around schools in his ward, and he wants a speed camera at Cortland and Pulaski because speed bumps can't be placed on Pulaski.
The new camera will be issuing warning tickets for the next 28 days for cars exceeding the 30 mph speed limit.
After the initial grace period, the camera will issue $35 tickets for those driving 6 mph above the speed limit and a $100 for those driving 11 mph over the limit.
A DNAinfo analysis of Chicago's speed camera system earlier this year found the program issued more than $108,000 in fines per day.
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