Thursday, January 19, 2017

Wrigleyville, Belmont To Get Tax-Funded Security Patrols

Emergency personnel on the scene of a double-shooting at Belmont and Sheffield last summer. | CWB Chicago reader
Local tax dollars will be used to provide private security patrols for Wrigleyville and the high-crime Belmont Avenue corridor between Halsted and Racine according to a Request For Proposals issued by the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce.

Funds will also go toward establishing a "private security and chamber office" at the high-crime intersection of Belmont and Sheffield.

44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney announced the proposal in a newsletter to constituents on Thursday afternoon, just 25 hours before the filing deadline.

The tax dollars will be drawn from "Special Service Area 17," a long-operating special tax area that the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce is overseeing for the first time in 2017.

Request for Proposals

The LVECC says it is seeking a state-licensed security contractor "to keep patrons and area residents safe" and it expects successful bidders to "identify 'hot spots' and [to] staff accordingly" with peak operations running from mid-March through October.

Notably, the deadline for bids is tomorrow at 5 p.m.

Walsh Security, a firm operated by Chicago police officer Thomas Walsh, currently provides security services to the the Northalsted Business Alliance, which represents many establishments along Boystown's Halsted bar strip.

Walsh Security is also under contract to provide armed guards to the Center on Halsted and a neighboring Whole Foods.

Officer Walsh works in the 19th District's community policing office and he routinely leads the conversation at neighborhood CAPS meetings.

SSA 17 includes Sheffield Avenue from Diversey to Irving Park; Clark Street from Fletcher to Byron; and Belmont Avenue from Halsted to Racine.

Time For A Change

SSA funds are supposed to be used to spruce up streetscapes, enhance security, and boost business along specific corridors.

SSA 17's funds were previously managed by the embarrassingly-run Central Lakeview Merchants Association, which renamed itself "Chicago View" and poured its efforts into (of all things) a print magazine.

For two recent years, "Chicago View" felt that SSA funds would be well-spent by tying undecorated Christmas trees to lamp poles around the area.

When neighbors express concern that tax dollars were being used for the ill-conceived holiday idea, then-SSA 17 Executive Director Gus Isacson told DNAInfo Chicago, "What do they care where the money comes from?"

Tunney stripped SSA 17's operations away from Chicago View in November after cries of poor service and misplaced priorities became too loud for the city to ignore.

"The city wanted to revisit, frankly, how they spend taxpayer money," Tunney aide Chris Jessup told DNAInfo at the time.
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