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October 2011 Blog posts

Senn Park Unity Garden finishes strong

Neighbors work together at Senn Park Unity Garden

MPC Research Assistant Kirsten Westergren authored this post. The results are in, and Senn Park Unity Garden in Edgewater was officially named one of the Top 100 Public Spaces in the United States and Canada! Even more impressive is that this small but vibrant park and community garden placed as #14, ranking higher than a number of other well-known landmarks throughout Chicago and the entire nation. Project for Public Spaces and Planetizen set out in September to find these great spaces by inviting the public to nominate and vote for the places they love. The voting process, comments, and results revealed, according to Planetizen, “not an objective Top 100 but instead a handful of communities passionate about their own local public spaces.” Certainly, Senn Park is one such…

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Proposed pre-tax transit benefit changes for 2012

Last month, I wrote a blog post noting the possibility that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would reduce the dollar amount transit and vanpool riders can set aside pre-tax to cover their transportation expenses. According to information received from the Center for Transportation Research at the University of South Florida, the IRS is indeed reporting a scheduled 46 percent reduction in the maximum tax-free benefits allowed for transit and vanpool customers – even as the maximum tax-free limit for parking would actually increase by $10 in 2012. Currently, transit and vanpool riders can set aside $230 per month to cover transportation costs; if Congress fails to act, this amount will roll back to the pre-stimulus level of $120 per month, plus a $5 per month adjustment for…

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Bipartisan Housing Policy Commission launching Oct. 26 in D.C.

National Housing Conference + Center for Housing Policy

After a triple-whammy trip to DC at the end of September, I left hopeful – but also wary – about whether any of MPC's core housing and community development priorities could make it past the political stalemates that seem to define our capital these days. Looking forward, perhaps the new Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Commission will create new opportunities, building on several MPC and Chicagoland innovations and partnerships recently featured at three separate events: the Solutions for Sustainable Communities conference; Bring Workers Home Forum; and Congressional staff briefing, featuring great stories and joint recommendations from MPC, the Center for Neighborhood Technology and Enterprise Community Partners. We helped shape and facilitate a number…

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Great design meets innovative problem-solving

John Ronan Architects

I am lucky to have my office in the heart of a world-class city. I recently took advantage of a gorgeous October day and made the quick four-block walk to the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) at the historic Santa Fe building on South Michigan Avenue. The stunning lobby is a testament to Chicago’s rich architectural tradition and CAF builds upon this, featuring exhibits right in the lobby or atrium gallery. The idea of repurposing existing structures was the central theme of the current exhibit, Design on the Edge: Chicago Architects Reimagine Neighborhoods. Chicago’s leading creative architects tackled challenges facing local communities, designing cutting-edge concepts for seven neighborhoods that would result in a more connected, vibrant, and livable city. The…

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Ill. Green Infrastructure Grant dos, don'ts, and deadlines

Last week MPC held two public workshops — one in Chicago, one in Elgin — on the Ill. Environmental Protection Agency's (IEPA) Illinois Green Infrastructure Grant Program for Stormwater Management (IGIG). More than 150 people came out to hear directly from IEPA about what changes to expect from last year's application (answer, none), and to learn what general characteristics were consistent across the strongest and weakest of last year's round of applications. IEPA's Christine Davis presented the "good, bad, and ugly" in substantial detail, and I've summarized each here. Good: The affected waterway was clearly identified, and the connection between the proposed project and the waterway was well described. The green infrastructure project in question was part of the…

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