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October 2009 Blog posts

Share your MPC history with us

As MPC was packing up its 25 E. Washington St. office to move to 140 S. Dearborn St. earlier this year, staff unearthed boxes and file folders filled with historic documents—reports, newsletters, newspaper clippings—dating back as far as 1934. Together, they chronicled both the organization’s and metropolitan Chicago’s history of regional planning challenges and victories. As the staff person designated by former (and self-appointed) Staff Historian Ann Armstrong—MPC’s longtime development director, who retired in 2006—I helped staff gather and organize all of this history by decade, stored neatly in 12 file drawers tucked away in the back of our new office. MPC has been around for 75 years—a lifetime, depending on your perspective. Twelve…

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Private or public, water conservation is the real issue: part 1

In the past week, there have been a handful of news stories delving into rumors that the City of Chicago might be exploring privatization of its drinking water system as a means of helping balance the city budget. Whether the city is in fact exploring that or not, the idea itself has caused a fair number of furrowed brows. The truth is, there’s nothing inherently wrong with privatization, for water or other infrastructure. The real question is why we’re privatizing. Balancing a budget is not sufficient justification for selling or leasing the rights to a public asset. Public-private partnerships—be they for water, parking, transit, etc.—should only be done when the private sector can more efficiently produce benefits (for example, conserving water supplies, easing…

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Northeastern Illinois' foreclosure devastation rivals Gulf Coast housing losses

The Oct. 23 roundtable with Northrop Grumman’s Dorothy Shaw, Rush Medical Center’s Terry Peterson, The South Suburban Housing Collaborative’s Janice Morrissy and Lake Forest Alderman Tom Morsch was pretty exciting. As we all work to promote sustainable communities – inspired by the Obama administration’s interagency effort amongst HUD, DOT and EPA -- it’s helpful to identify versatile and effective tools that work in a range of market places. Clearly, Friday’s speakers underscored that Employer-Assisted Housing (EAH) is indeed such a tool. The story from our Mississippi guest, Dorothy Shaw, was particularly inspiring. By way of background: When Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, all of us in the community development arena felt compelled to…

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Wicker Park Halloween Prowl brings life to the Polish Triangle

Polish Triangle Open House, March 21-22, 2009

What would you like to see at the Polish Triangle?

When MPC and WPB, the Special Service Area for the Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods, asked residents what they would like to see happen at the Polish Triangle, located at the intersection of Division St. and Ashland and Milwaukee Aves., the response was clear: People want to activate the space. WPB has taken this advice to heart, planning a Halloween event with the award-winning Collaboraction Theatre company. The event will start at the Polish Triangle at noon on Oct. 31, and will feature a theatrical procession of dancers, actors, musicians vampires, and mummies that travels through Wicker Park, making stops to trick-or-treat dance and cavort at local parks and businesses along the way. This event is open to the public. Meet at the Polish Triangle at noon to join in the fun,…

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What if? Reflections on Chicago's proposed budget

“What if” are two words that question regrettable circumstances without satisfying answers. “What if” Chicago had invested the proceeds from its landmark lease deals into revenue-generating projects; would we be in the same pickle we’re in today? The problem with “What if” is that you can never know the answer for sure because, as of yet, no one has invented a reliable time machine to go back and try it again. On Oct. 21, Mayor Daley unveiled his proposed 2010 budget for Chicago, which relies heavily on tapping reserves generated from the long-term lease of the Skyway, parking garages and parking meters – nearly $400 million. Everyone, the Mayor included, recognizes that this is bad fiscal policy. With only $730 million remaining from the…

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For 80 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has made the Chicago region a better place to live and work by partnering with businesses, communities and governments to address the area’s toughest planning and development challenges. MPC works to solve today's urgent problems while consistently thinking ahead to prepare the region for the needs of tomorrow. Read more about our work »

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