Letters to the Editor

From: Paul Sadowski
Subject: Avondale Revisted [sic]

I'd like to suggest that Carter OBrien [sic] write a follow up on his rant against development in Avondale. For all the hippie rhetoric of fighting the good fight, what is the outcome for the neighborhood? Two years on and what is at that spot? No one is for sub-standard housing of any kind, but the reality is that condos are preferable to the current trash-strewn, rat-holed lot. The numerous businesses he sites on Milwaukee are struggling badly, as numerous closure [sic] attest. Many that remain or have opened are a collection of cheap dollar stores. Would the 30 or so units to have be [sic] built there improve the neighborhood? How could they not? I hope Carter likes Rey Colon's current plan for a homeless shelter at Milwaukee/Kimball/Diversey. How this is in the residential and commercial interests of the neighborhood has not been explained.

Carter O’Brien replies:

The reason there is an empty lot at Kimball Avenue and Dawson Street is not due to “hippies” or Rey Colon, but because the lot owner illegally built more units than he was allowed to, in violation of the fire code and numerous other building codes, with the apparent blessing of Vilma Colom, alderman at the time. Additionally, the foundations for these buildings were dug too close to the street, jeopardizing the structural integrity of the Blue Line tunnel that passes under Kimball.

Perhaps Mr. Sadowski thinks that condos with screaming people on fire trying to escape them are a great addition to the neighborhood, or that it wouldn’t be a problem to have taxpayers foot the bill to fix the CTA tunnel, or that it wouldn’t be a big deal if Blue Line trains were unable to pass through Avondale — but I disagree.

He also fails to mention the fact that there was a prostitution and heroin-dealing ring operating out of those buildings, something which contributed to the struggles of the businesses on Milwaukee. It was in fact pressure from those local businesses (who Colon was listening to) that resulted in the buildings being torn down in the first place — certainly more so than “those damn hippies” Mr. Sadowski apparently despises.

Also, the SRO housing he erroneously confuses with a “homeless shelter” was just one proposed use of the Goldman Sachs building (which has been largely vacant for decades, by the way), and nothing is set in stone, unless Mr. Sadowski knows something the rest of the community does not. There is an equally good chance the building in question could end up as artist housing in some shape or form as part of Colon’s vision for an Arts District centered on that landmarked intersection — or as a mixed commercial/residential development.

In the spirit of compromise, I fully agree that dollar stores are a plague; that’s why I exercise my god-given right as an American not to patronize them.

But as a resident who lives a few short blocks from the Kimball-Dawson fiasco, I walk by that empty lot with a sense of pride. It represents a victory for the community, which stood up against outside forces who didn’t care about our long-term health and vitality and tried to force “sub-standard housing” (as even Mr. Sadowski describes it) down our throats. We can — and will — do better.

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