CHICAGO (CBS) — A neighborhood battle in Gage Park is getting results.
The road is crumbling along the 5500 and 5600 blocks of South Oakley Avenue, and there are craters everywhere. And this isn’t new – a Google Street View image from 2009 shows much the same condition.READ MORE: Burglars Target The North Face Store, Foot Locker In Wicker Park; Boost Mobile Nearby In Humboldt Park
As CBS 2’s Jim Williams reported Monday, residents told us nothing changed – until now.
The aftermath of the heavy rain on Sunday evening added to the misery on those two blocks of South Oakley Avenue. We saw pockets of standing water in large craters.
“When I complain about the holes in the street, they patch it up – and that’s about it,” said Daniel Lee.
That is only a temporary fix, and residents said it will actually ice straight across the street.
Indeed, the whole two-block stretch is in poor condition.
“And our block need to be totally repaved,” said Renee Elms. “We don’t have curbs, so it’s all soil – so soil is eroding, which is causing trees and other things to shift.”
For decades now, the local block club has been pleading for help.
“With all the last three aldermen, the last two mayors, committeemen, senators – everyone in between,” Elms said.
They have been writing emails and calling the city repeatedly.
“Give my number and they said, ‘Well, you’re still on the list – we just haven’t got to you yet,” Lee said. “They still haven’t gotten to me.”READ MORE: Crowds Return To Stores This Black Friday, But Supply Chain Issues Pose Challenges
Lee has lived in the area for 43 years. He is a taxpayer and a Vietnam veteran.
Williams: “You served your country. You deserve better?”
Lee: “I think so.”
Lee said in the whole time he has lived on his block, he has never had a curb. He dropped some planks to keep cars from rolling up on his grass.
We reached out to Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th), who while sympathetic, told us reconstruction here would wipe out most of his infrastructure budget for the entire 15th Ward.
He said Oakley Avenue in that aera is a so-called WPA street – built during the 1930s when the federal Works Progress Administration put Americans to work during the Great Depression.
Lopez insists Congress should allot money to make the repairs.
Meantime, neighbors like Elms vow to keep up the fight.
“I’ve gotten to point that maybe I should just move and stop,” Elms said, “but I feel like that’s not fair to the residents – many who’ve been here over 40 years living on this block.”
Late Monday, a spokesman for the Chicago Department Transportation told us Mayor Lori Lightfoot is increasing funding for WPA streets to $37.8 million next year, up from $3.7 million this year.MORE NEWS: President Biden Restricts Travel From South Africa and 7 Other African Countries Due To New COVID Variant
One of the streets slated for major reconstruction is indeed South Oakley Avenue between Garfield Boulevard and 57th Street. Also due for reconstruction are two other nearby stretches – South Oakley Avenue between 58th and 59th streets, and South Hamilton Avenue between 56th and 58th streets.