Friday, August 22, 2008

Parks champion arrested at Chicago Plan Commission hearing...

In the midst of testifying his opposition to the south Lincoln Park soccer field before the city’s Plan Commission on Aug. 21, park advocate Peter Zelchenko was removed from the hearing and arrested shortly thereafter. He was charged with disorderly conduct, according to News Affairs Officer John Mirabelli.
Zelchenko---a Lincoln Parker and founding member of Protect Our Park--- was physically forced out of the hearing before being handcuffed. He was calm and not resisting being arrested. He called the arrest, "terribly insensitive, demoralizing and dehumanizing."
"My problem is when a cop says I have to leave and I don't do anything," Zelchenko said. "I do the just thing, not the smart thing."
Zelchenko was testifying before the commission when he addressed 48th Ward Alderman Mary Ann Smith and was asked to stick to the issue when trying to use up his allowed three minutes of time. His microphone was shut off and he continued to speak and asked that he be allowed to finish before being removed by Chicago police.
"I'm so tired of the way this city is being run," Zelchenko said. "We have a dictatorship...ot's not fair."
Zelchenko is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 15, at Branch 43, 3150 W. Flournoy. He was released after about six hours.
Solid Impact was on the scene as Zelchnko was arrested, and booked shortly thereafter at 17th and State. As we saw it, there was no reason for his arrest and Chicago cops were pissed off as hell at him. He should have had his three minutes as everyone else, particularily the proponents of the soccer field, did.
More to come and pix shortly.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Marina City landmarking....Solid Impact gets the scoop before anyone!

Alderman Brendan Reilly, 42nd, has requested to the city’s Commission on Landmarks that preliminary landmark designation be started on Marina City, 300 N. State St. The designation would include the corncob-shaped towers as well as the House of Blues, Hotel Sax, and Smith & Wollensky structures.

Reilly said earlier this week he had strong support among the property owners, and that it’s a “little known fact,” the Bertrand Goldberg-designed city within a city---built 1959-64 --- is not already landmarked.

“You’ll find this structure on every snow-globe at O’Hare,” Reilly said. “It’s one of the most high-profile, historical buildings in the city of Chicago.”

Reilly said Marina City was the very first planned development for a mixed-use community with commercial, retail and residential uses all in one self-contained neighborhood. He said his interest in landmarking was sparked when Dick’s Last Resort recently moved in and proposed a small change to allow a garage-style door on its patio.

“I want to preserve the towers and keep that part of downtown’s architectural fabric,” he said.

According to its Web site, Marina City ---which occupies an entire city block--- consists of two 61-story corncob residential towers, a mid-rise hotel building and a saddle-shaped auditorium building, all contained on a raised platform cantilevered over defunct railroad tracks adjacent to the river. Beneath the raised platform at river level is a small marina for boaters, the site says.

Friday, August 15, 2008

My pix...just'll be amazed when I'm done!

Pet Support for Seniors

Art Haupt and his nine-year-old cat, Max, have a nightly ritual. Each evening, Max --- a short-haired, black tomcat --- jumps onto Haupt’s bed for a rub down, and when finished, Max leaps to the dresser near the bedroom window for a glimpse of the night’s action.
The 86-year-old Haupt says Max provides companionship, and unconditional love, and he credits his four-legged friend for keeping him out of a nursing home.
“Having a pet and your friends is the most important part of that,” said Haupt, a Lincoln Park resident. “I've known seniors who are so lonely and bored looking at four walls. This doesn't happen with a pet to talk to and care for.”
Haupt is one of many seniors who cherish their pets, but can’t afford to feed them. Yet Lake View resident Julie Newfeld is lending a paw to change that with her newly-formed, nonprofit organization, Pet Support for Seniors (PSS).
PSS assists low-income seniors in caring for animals by providing supportive services including food, and eventually vet and grooming assistance and temporary placement of pets. Currently partnering with the Little Brothers/Friends of the Elderly, PSS has 14 human clients, and feeds a total of 12 cats, four dogs, one parrot and one parakeet.
“It’s a godsend,” said Haupt. “Along with all the other rising prices, you can understand why thousands of people are turning their pets in to shelters because they can no longer afford to feed and care for them. Imagine the heartbreak involved.”
Newfeld --- who has a master’s degree in social work --- started developing the concept after her father, Buddy, died in Nov. 2005. She had been a social worker more than 20 years, with the last eight spent working with low-income seniors as a Catholic Charities supervisor, a position she resigned from in January.
She knew that leaving a secure job with good benefits was a risky move, “But I knew in my heart it was time to go and start something of my own that I cared about,” said Newfeld, who has two dogs, Bronson, 11, and Honey, 2. “My mother (Charlotte) always said those of us who can, have a responsibility to do what we can to help each other. I took this to heart, which is why I chose social work as my profession; I’ve always been drawn to the underdogs in society.”
Newfeld shared a similar dream of working with animals with her friend, now board member Jill Donovan (also involved are Newfeld’s husband, Greg Pranski, and Donovan’s husband, Rob Bagstad). The pair volunteered at animal shelters and attended workshops/conferences, where Newfeld talked to professionals about transitioning from working with people, to working with animals.
“What I learned was that in order to truly help animals, we need to care for people; because people are the ones that take care of animals,” said Newfeld, who attended LeMoyne Elementary and Lake View High schools. “At that point a light bulb went off for me; why not combine what I knew, social services, with my love for animals.”
She then heard the “heart-wrenching,” story of an 86-year-old North Side man, living alone and struggling financially, who had recently lost his wife, and had no friends or family. He was losing weight and social workers discovered that he was sharing his Meals on Wheels with his 12-year-old dog, who he called "his baby." Newfeld volunteered to find a source for free pet food.
“The only programs I found had what I saw as insurmountable roadblocks that made them inaccessible to seniors in one way or another,” she said. “The story of this man had a profound effect on me—it was one of those ‘ah hah’ moments. I knew what I wanted to do and Pet Support for Seniors was born.”
According to Cynthia Bathurst--- national director of Project Safe Humane for the Best Friends Animal Society and co-chairman of the local Dog Advisory Work Group (D.A.W.G.)--- studies show that pets provide a multitude of benefits for seniors including fewer doctor visits and increased activity.
“There’s so much on the important bond and help that animals give seniors, so helping those on fixed incomes or in poverty keep their animals is essential,” said Bathurst.
Little Brothers agrees, and called Newfeld, “very passionate about animals.”
“She realizes how much pets mean to our elders,” said Cora Wandell, the organization’s program assistant.
Newfeld anticipates funding from a variety of sources and welcomes volunteers. Her ultimate goal? To purchase land for a pet sanctuary for relinquished animals not able to be placed elsewhere.
Recently, Newfeld received a heartfelt thank you letter from a senior describing her pet as her only friend, and saying how grateful she was for the pet food.
“I put that letter down, shed a tear and thought, ‘Oh yeah, this is why we are doing this,’” Newfeld said. “It’s very gratifying to know we are having a positive impact on people and pets’ lives.”
For more information, call (773) 370-9114 or (773) 989-8807.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Gold Coast Art Fair

The Gold Coast Art Fair, held Aug. 8, 9 and 10, provided its usual glam. Pix are from the bottom up, so check out Lincoln Square resident Jessica Lopresti having her bust sculpted by Highwood artist Marina Kovalevskaya.
Additionally, local gal Michele Williams, an artist herself, was taking a peek at the works wearing a lovely lady necklace she desgined and painted; while Streeterviller Doug Boehm managed to sneak in a hand massage from Maria Claycomb, in the Burt's Bees/Infinite Massage tent.
Oh and hey, that's Door County artist Bonnie Paruch there too with her vibrant paintings that I loved!