Tuesday, February 10, 2015

IT'S UNANIMOUS: One Year Later, Neighborhood Group Enthusiastically Backs Broadway Youth Center

BYC director Imani Rupert (L) and general counsel Michelle Wetzel
present to a 2014 Southeast Lake View Neighbors meeting. (DNAInfo)
One year after a neighborhood group voted 41-21 against supporting a zoning variance for the Broadway Youth Center (BYC), the same group Monday voted unanimously to support the center in an upcoming renewal hearing.

BYC ultimately received approval last winter from the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals to operate its youth drop-in and counseling services for one year from Wellington United Church of Christ, 615 Wellington, despite the Southeast Lake View Neighbors’ “no” vote.

Fueled by news that BYC staff had been accused of obstructing police—and a now-former BYC manager’s email that threw race, class, homophobia, transphobia, and discrimination against the disabled into the mix—the original zoning issue drew boisterous packed houses to SELVN meetings last year.

But a delightful 36 people showed up Monday, with one woman who lives near the Wellington church telling the audience that she found BYC to be “always so welcoming” as she passed the center’s doors.

And Michelle Wetzel, general counsel for BYC's parent organization, said "only one person came to office hours" established to address neighborhood concerns last year, "and she brought donations."

After a brief Q & A with Wetzel and BYC director Imani Rupert, SELVN members voted 19-0 to support the center's zoning renewal, then broke into spontaneous applause.

“We’ve come a long way,” Wetzel beamed as the claps continued, “Thank you very much.”

Hearing

The Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals is expected to take up the BYC renewal request in March.

The ZBA “doesn’t offer” one-year renewals, 44th ward worker Erin Duffy told SELVN members last month, saying the board’s action last year was “a special circumstance.”

Nonetheless, a revamped “Good Neighbor Agreement” between BYC and 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney specifies that the alderman and BYC will “seek to have the ZBA issue another one-year special use permit.”

Whether or not special one-year stints will be allowed is “up to the Zoning Board of Appeals,” Wetzel said Monday.

Duffy and Tunney's chief of staff, Bennett Lawson, did not respond to emails seeking comment on Monday.

Three SELVN members abstained from Monday's vote.
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17 comments:

  1. "Duffy and Tunney's chief of staff, Bennett Lawson, did not respond to emails seeking comment on Monday."

    Or any other day of the year, no matter the topic. I'm still waiting for the courtesy of a response, any response, on six emails sent over the course of 2014 and 2015.

    I wonder if there is data available showing the number of "youth" who committed crimes in the area and listed the "BYC" as their "home address."

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  2. Only 19 people at this meeting: the same little clique that controls SELVN which is a big waste of time. So they applauded, so what? They don't welcome anybody with a dissenting opinion. They allowed BYC to steamroller the neighborhood. They never questioned why this nonprofit organization paid the church $50K in rent when they could have rented a public clinic on Clark St. for only $1 per year. The clinic was already built out and properly zoned. Elected officials announced last year that BYC was getting a zoning variance to locate in a residential area, so why would anybody bother to object?

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    Replies
    1. There were plenty of people who advocated for the space on Clark last year. Did you come out this year to suggest it?

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    2. Any nonprofit that wastes $50K on rent, when they could get a nearby space for $1 should lose their tax exempt status. If the church and these members of SELVN and the elected officials care so much about the clients, they should be spending that $50K on services instead of rent.

      So their meetings are open to the public, so what? They are a total waste of time. They can continue applauding themselves, they do not represent everybody in Lakeview.

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    3. The fact that this group voted overwhelmingly against the center last year and voted unanimously in favor of it one year later may indicate that the operation has improved, no?

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  3. The self-immolation of Lakeview is a microcosm of the larger American human torch.

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  4. 19 people voting this year. What, 100 people showed up last year? 19 people deciding for the community. Gotta love democracy.

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    Replies
    1. And maybe the lack of 100 people this year indicates that people weren't as concerned about it this year. It was on SELVN's agenda for two months.

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  5. Agree with Anonymous that SELVN is a waste of time. Their meetings go on and on without a resolution.

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  6. It is an open neighborhood meeting, and everyone is welcome to attend. This group serves as an advisory forum that is only one of the many sources providing input to the Alderman. You have the choice to come out and participate; that is democracy!

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    Replies
    1. No - you only have a choice to participate and VOTE if you live in the area - otherwise your comments really dont count.

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  7. If you don't show up, don't expect for your position to be heard.

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    1. Its not like yo know weeks ahead of time what the agenda is, anyway. Meetings are Monday or Tuesday and they dont release an agenda until a day before. Anyway - what's done is done. The 'hood could care less when the offenders use the BYC as an address of residence -- oh but they would not know this because most dont even know this blog exists.

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    2. It's not difficult to show up if you're truly interested. Meeting dates and times have been the same for years. Community involvement is like exercise. You have to make time for it.

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    3. The BYC isn't a homeless shelter. No one is staying there overnight.

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    4. "The BYC isn't a homeless shelter."
      Then WHY do so many criminals claim BYC as their residence address?

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    5. BYC did have overnight accommodations at its previous location, 3179 N. Broadway. Overnighting is not part of their current program. While a good number of arrestees, including several violent offenders, "featured" in our stories use the 3170 address as their home, we are aware of none that use the center's current location.

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