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Lincoln Park Residents Furious About Likely Ward Split

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A huge blue sculpture went up on Oct. 28, 2011, outside a new home under construction in Lincoln Park. Some neighbors were worried the sculpture isn't safe. (Credit: CBS)

A huge blue sculpture went up on Oct. 28, 2011, outside a new home under construction in Lincoln Park. Some neighbors were worried the sculpture isn’t safe. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Two Chicago aldermen are holding a public forum Wednesday to hear residents concerns over proposed ward redistricting plans.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Brandis Friedman reports, some Lincoln Park neighborhood residents are worried they might find themselves belonging to a different ward, if the proposed remapping of the 43rd Ward passes.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Brandis Friedman reports

Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) will hold a public forum along with Ald. Richard Mell (33rd), who is chairman the remap process, at 6 p.m. Wednesday at DePaul University’s Cortelyou Commons, 2324 N. Fremont St.

A heated ward remap debate is presently underway in the City Council, following the release of the 2010 Census results as required by law.

The Latino Caucus has proposed one map, called the “Taxpayer Protection Plan.” The Black Caucus and old-guard white aldermen have another, called “Map for a Better Chicago.”

The latter map would divide the neighborhood across five different wards. It would be split between the 43rd, 44th, 32nd, 27th, and 2nd wards.

Currently, virtually all of Lincoln Park is located within the 43rd Ward. All of the other wards are located nearby, except the 2nd, currently represented by Ald. Robert Fioretti, which would move from its current location on the South and West sides to a North and Northwest side precinct that would stretch from the Lincoln Park-Lakeview area west all the way to Kimball Avenue.

This week, neighbors in the Park West district of Lincoln Park, located east of Clark Street between Diversey and Fullerton parkways, saw a yellow letter taped to their doors reading, “Notice: You are Being Disenfranchised.”

The letter complained that Park West residents elected Ald. Smith to office last year, not Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), who would represent the area east of Clark Street, or Fioretti, who would presumably represent the area to the west.

The letter also said the redistricting would cut Park West residents out of major policy discussions regarding development projects. Discussions are set to get underway about the redevelopment of the Children’s Memorial Hospital site at Lincoln and Fullerton avenues and Halsted Street, after the hospital moves to Streeterville this year.

Concerns were also addressed in regard to the Clark Street Special Service Area, a tax district that funds streetscape improvements and sanitation along the busy stretch of Clark between Diversey Parkway-Broadway and Armitage Avenue. The redistricting plan would place Clark Street in three different wards and would make administering the SSA a “nightmare,” the letter said.

Further, Ald. Smith tells the DePaulia student newspaper that a five-way split in the neighborhood would mean daily services and major development projects would be handled by five separate offices.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is publicly keeping his hands off the ward remap debate, although he has said he doesn’t want the fight to end up in an expensive court battle.

If a group of at least 41 aldermen cannot unite behind one map for the city’s wards, voters would have to choose between two maps in a public referendum during the March primary elections. That could be followed by an expensive lawsuit.

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