Chicago council plans to rename Lake Shore Drive

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The protracted debate over whether to rename Lake Shore Drive after Chicago’s founding father could once again be the focus of Wednesday’s full city council meeting, though it remains to be seen whether Mayor Lori Lightfoot will allow aldermen to vote on the proposal.

The ordinance would rename the majority of the Drive to Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Drive—from Hollywood Avenue in the north to 67th Street in the south—to honor the area’s first non-native settler.

Ald opposes the name change. Brian Hopkins, 2nd Ward, who used a parliamentary maneuver to delay a vote last month. The delay has all but ensured that the measure will be taken at Wednesday’s full council meeting, in the absence of any further technical moves from opponents or the mayor who chairs the council.

Hopkins told WBEZ last week that he expected a vote on the measure on Wednesday, but when it was reached again this week, he wasn’t so sure.

“It is possible that the roll-call vote will be postponed… There is a lot of discussion going on and last minute changes are possible,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hopkins said Tuesday that aldermen could work overnight to try to come up with an alternative proposal to renaming Lake Shore Drive. Preliminary proposals include renaming the road to “DuSable Lake Shore Drive”; renaming Millennium Park to DuSable Park and adding a fountain or statue in tribute to DuSable; or renaming (and renovating) existing DuSable Park to “Founders Park” in honor of him and his wife, Kittihawa.

But none of those ideas are tied to an order and may not be ready for consideration next Wednesday.

Hopkins argues that his constituents are adamantly opposed and concerned about the address change or the headache of keeping the mailing address for a road that no longer exists.

A Chicago Department of Transportation analysis shared with aldermen showed that only city-owned buildings and museums along Lake Shore Drive would be subject to address changes. A separate analysis said the name change would cost at least $853,000.

Lightfoot, who opposes the name change, said did not commit to allowing a direct vote on the measure, saying she’s heard from residents who don’t like the idea of ​​changing the name of the iconic road.

The mayor outlined an alternative plan last month that includes paving Chicago’s pedestrian promenade with DuSable-inspired art, creating several monuments in his and his wife’s honor, creating an annual festival DuSable and upgrading an existing downtown DuSable park. But it’s unclear whether she’ll keep pushing for that plan, or scrap it for one of Hopkins and other aldermen’s ideas.

Proponents of the renaming have argued that Lightfoot’s proposal should complement, not replace theirs, and that renaming the road that runs the length of Chicago is a more meaningful step to unifying a racially divided city. and class.

“This is the only way to bridge the gap between north and south and bring us together as one people so that we can all celebrate as one,” said Ephraim Martin, the leader of the group Black Heroes Matter who has been pushing for change.

DuSable was a Haitian explorer and the region’s first non-native resident in the late 1700s. Before leaving in 1800, he built a thriving trading post that eventually became Chicago. But DuSable’s immense contribution to establishing the nation’s third-largest city went unrecognized for centuries.

The DuSable name change is just one of many important items on the board’s agenda for Wednesday.

Parks, payouts and a midnight liquor curfew are also in effect

Aldermen are requested to approve $17 million for public parks, about half of which will go to Garfield Park. West Side Park is in line for a new Little League pitch, a massive clubhouse renovation and updates to the Garfield Park Conservatory’s indoor children’s garden. A cluster of parks on the North Fork of the Chicago River could also get a collective $7 million. The money comes from special tax districts, called TIFs.

If a settlement is approved Wednesday, city ratepayers could be held liable for approximately $1.825 million in payments to five paramedics who filed a federal lawsuit in 2018 alleging sexual harassment within the Chicago Fire Department. Their allegations accused the department and city of allowing a culture of harassment and gender discrimination under a “code of silence” at the fire department. The lawsuit was filed amid the national #metoo movement, when women across the country spoke out against sexual harassment in the workplace.

Also on Wednesday’s agenda are a sweeping package of changes to the city’s laws regulating businesses, including a midnight curfew on liquor store sales and capping fees charged by third-party food delivery apps. light foot introduced the measures last monthtouting them as reducing bureaucracy.

But at least one of the changes did not sit well with some aldermen, who argued it was an attempt to limit their power. This measure would make it easier and faster for businesses to get permits for things like window signs and sidewalk cafés by no longer requiring the municipal council to vote. If approved on Wednesday, these “public road use” permits could be issued by a municipal department once a local alderman has signed off or after 60 days.

Additionally, aldermen should designate October as Italian American Heritage and Culture Month. because the fate of Chicago’s Christopher Columbus statues is in limbo.

And, progressive aldermen vowed to force a measure on the ground that would bring long-awaited reform to Chicago police oversight. It’s after the proposal was delayed in the council’s public safety committee again last week.

An ordinance usually requires committee approval in order to go ahead for a full vote, but council rules allow aldermen to ask their colleagues to vote on bypass committee approval to take a corrective action. anyway.

Aldus. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, 35th Ward, pledged to do so on Wednesday, though he’ll likely struggle because Chicago’s mayor opposes the ordinance and has its own police surveillance plan.

Mariah Woelfel and Becky Vevea cover city government at WBEZ. You can follow them on @mariahwoelfel and @beckyvea.

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