NEAR WEST SIDE — Parking ban signs installed on the Near West Side aimed at curbing gang parties have been vandalized before the ban was scheduled to begin.
Part of a larger plan to keep partiers from parking near Touhy-Herbert Park, the residential parking restrictions are set to go into effect July 24. But just days after the signs were installed, at least one sign near West Adams Street and South Hamilton Avenue near the defunct Jelly Bean Garden was pushed to the ground, and at least one other parking sign was removed, neighbors reported.
The signs were installed June 27 and were torn down by Friday night, said one neighbor, who has asked not to be named for fear of retribution. Neighbors have reported the damaged signs to the city's 311 non-emergency call center, he said.
"It seems like it was done in protest," said the man, who has lived in the area for six years. "I think the people who may have removed the signs are really just looking at any changes that are being made over as a sign that they are not wanted ... and they are trying to protest that in any way that they can."
A sign at Adams and Hamilton was pushed to the ground next to the neighborhood's defunct Jelly Bean Garden, an 8-year-old community lot across the street from Touhy-Herbert park ruined by litter. [DNAinfo/Stephanie Lulay]
Some other residential parking ban signs recently installed on the block were not vandalized or removed.
In the spring, Burnett pitched a plan to convert a few streets near Touhy-Herbert Park to a residential permit parking zone, aiming to block partiers from parking near the park.
Near West Side police said the new parking rules could be a valuable tool, as the overnight restrictions would allow police to ticket and tow cars that don't have resident parking stickers.
Burnett could not be reached for comment.
The parking ban signs were installed after a raucous gang party brought 1,000 people to the residential streets around Touhy-Herbert Park last month, a party that Burnett said was too large for police officers in 25 Chicago Police Department squad cars to break up. The police were outnumbered, he said.
"It's not just an inconvenience, it's very dangerous," Burnett said at the time. "When you have that many people drinking, getting high, anything can happen."
At 8:40 p.m. June 20, days after the party, 26-year-old Antwon High was shot dead at Adams and Hoyne, just steps from the park. Two other men, ages 21 and 23, were wounded in the shooting.
Neighbors also had previously lobbied for a residential parking zone to be set up south of the park, said Katerina Klopas, treasurer of the Touhy-Herbert Park Advisory Council.
The zone includes permit parking on the south end of Adams Street; Leavitt Street from Adams Street to Jackson Boulevard; Hamilton Avenue from Adams to Jackson; and Hoyne Avenue from Adams to Jackson, Burnett said. Parking also is prohibited on the north of end of Adams overnight.
A residential parking ban sign was pushed to the ground at Adams and Hamilton, and another sign on the block was removed, neighbors report. [DNAinfo/Stephanie Lulay]
Before the signs were installed, the six-year neighbor said he was skeptical that a residential parking ban could help stop parties at Touhy-Herbert park. Now that some signs have been defaced or removed, he said he's now even more skeptical the ban can make a difference.
"I'm pretty skeptical," the neighbor said. "It's only going to make a difference if it's strictly enforced, and I don't have the confidence that it will be strictly enforced. I think a lot of people in the neighborhood are looking for a quick fix, and I don't think this was going to be it."
Another neighbor who has lived in the area for three years called the vandalism "disheartening."
"It's hard because the alderman and the neighborhood are putting up an effort," she said.
Here's parking sign at Hamilton Avenue and Jackson Boulevard that was not vandalized. [DNAinfo/Stephanie Lulay]
In a statement, Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Near West Police District Cmdr. Edward Kulbida has increased patrols in the area in and around Touhy-Herbert Park.
"I know Cmdr. Kulbida has increased patrols overall in the park, and officers are going to be very strict on enforcing city park rules," Guglielmi wrote.