CHICAGO (CBS) — Loud music, drinking, smoking and large gatherings — it’s not what you want in a residential neighborhood, but it’s what homeowners in part of Bronzeville are getting, despite repeated complaints to the city and police.
CBS 2 Morning Insider Tim McNicholas first reported on the issues last fall, but now, in a pandemic, the pop-up parties have an added danger.
In the daytime, the area near 41st Street and Oakenwald Avenue is a quiet stretch of beautiful homes just off Lake Shore Drive, but when the sun goes down, neighbors say that peace and quiet goes down with it.
“I believe it was from 10:30 to 3:30 in the morning,” said Marva Boyd.
“The loud music, the smoking of weed, the drugs – it’s just everything,” De’Avlin Olguin.
Homeowners at 41st and Oakenwald shot cell phone videos over the past couple months, showing people partying in the street late at night.
It’s not just loud music keeping them up, but fireworks launched from the new pedestrian bridge over Lake Shore Drive. One video even shows a fire underneath the bridge, which residents say was caused by fireworks last week.
A video from June 19 shows a large group cluttered together in alley, even with Chicago Police Department cars just around the corner.
“Most of the time, no one has on a mask. It’s an open area, spread of the coronavirus. You have all these kids, pop up parties. You have 150 kids and no one has on a mask,” Olguin said.
When CBS 2 first reported on the problems last fall, residents explained many unwanted visitors often park on their block and then use the bridge to walk back and forth from the Lakefront.
Since then, the city has put up new restrictions to try to get visitors to park somewhere else, but neighbors said those rules – and other broken rules listed in the area – need to be enforced more.
“There’s been some towing, and some ticketing, but it’s not consistent, and I think it’s not consistent because the officers are stretched thin,” Olguin said.
The parties sometimes wind up in Williams-Davis Park at the western end of the bridge, even though the park officially closes at 9 p.m. every day.
“It is a public safety and public health issue, but first and foremost people aren’t supposed to be here after 9 p.m. in the first place. So if they were to simply enforce that, that would take care of the problem,” Boyd said.
For now, the problems continue, and so do the neighborhood calls and emails to the alderman and CPD.
CBS 2 reached out to CPD and Ald. Sophia King (4th) to ask what is being done.
Late Monday, King called us and said she has taken several steps to try to stop the problems – including the park ordinance. She agreed it needs to be enforced more, and she said she is working with Chicago Police and the Department of Finance to make sure it happens.
King also plans on having a city camera installed near the bridge.
The CPD said it has ordered officers to give special attention to the area, and they have assigned a beat car to the spot.