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Former Ald. Bernard 'Berny' Stone To Be Honored With 50th Ward Park

By Linze Rice | June 13, 2017 5:17am | Updated on June 14, 2017 11:58am
 A new passive green space along the North Shore Channel Trail could be named after former Ald. Bernard Stone (50th).
A new passive green space along the North Shore Channel Trail could be named after former Ald. Bernard Stone (50th).
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WEST RIDGE — A new park in the 50th Ward could be named after the area's longtime former alderman Bernard "Berny" Stone. 

Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th) and resident groups are supporting a measure to change the name of a park that sits on the site of a former McCormick Road movie theater from Park No. 526 to Bernard L. Stone Park. 

Described for years by neighbors as an "eyesore," the 1.8-acre lot hugs the North Shore Channel between Lincoln and Kedzie avenues and Devon Avenue and McCormick Road on the border of North Park and West Ridge near suburban Lincolnwood.

So far, plans for the park include adding trees and hills, improved walking paths, new landscaping and fitness stations and a water fountain.

The park sits just north of the Lincoln Village shopping center, where Stone had a ward office during a chunk of his time serving the far north side of town.

On Wednesday, city officials plan to begin a 45-day commenting period before initiating the change.

Stone died at age 87 in 2014, but left a legacy in his ward and at City Hall. 

Born to Jewish immigrant parents in 1927, Stone attended Chicago Public Schools and served in World War II before going on to law school. 

After he graduated he worked for the Cook County Sheriff's Office and was vice president of the 50th Ward Regular Democratic Organization, eventually running for 50th Ward alderman and winning in July 1973.

He was the first Democrat to represent the ward, which includes West Ridge and North Park, since 1955. 

In true Chicago form, Stone was noted by the proposal's sponsors as being "outspoken and loyal to friends."

During his tenure, Stone saw seven Chicago mayors, including Richard J. Daley, Richard M. Daley and Harold Washington. 

In Gary Rivlin's book on the Washington years, "Fire on the Prairie," he wrote that Stone also had a reputation as something of a clubhouse lawyer at City Hall.

"Fred Roti and Bernard Stone regularly held court in the press room," Rivlin wrote. "Strolling from desk to desk reading over shoulders as reporters worked on their articles, they offered comments and arguments." 

According to the proposal, Stone sponsored legislation that required apartment temperatures be at least 63 degrees at night.

In 1993, Stone made headlines by having a 2½-foot-tall guardrail erected down the center of Howard Street in protest of a shopping center being built in Evanston on the other side of the street. With "Berny's Wall," Stone intended to block cars from turning into the mall's new parking lot.

The wall was removed in 1994 after a legal battle with Evanston.

He was unseated in 2011 by Silverstein and his political career ended.

The Chicago Park District board would ultimately have to approve the change.