Chatham: Are Community Organizations Relevant Anymore

Chatham: Are Community Organizations Relevant Anymore

. My counterparts at the Sixth Ward Blog recently wrote a post but I felt that I needed to say something.
The presence of community based organizations in the 6th ward made it a target during the last City of Chicago ward remapping. While Alderman Beale (9th) picked up several organizations, it may end up being a major thorn in his side come 2015. One organization RAGE- Resident Association of Greater Englewood, an organization that has only been in existence and studied the organizations on the eastern portion of the ward has made major strides in improving the lives of residents in the Greater Grand Crossing and Englewood communities.

When it comes to Chatham, this is the epicenter of community organizations in the 6th ward. While there is a dispute with Park Manor Neighbors on which organization started first the Chatham Avalon Park Community Council (CAPCC) has been in existence over 50 years. Also, the Greater Chatham Alliance(GCA) which is the successor to a combined block club organization. Well, most would assume that if you have two organizations representing one community, then there would be a great deal of progress. Both have been able to draw crowds to events. CAPCC took the lead on the opening of a pawn shop and GCA has drawn crowds on the issue of Walmart, ward remapping, and several meetings with Chicago Police Department Chief Garry McCarthy. For some residents this is where the usefullness of these organizations begin and end. Some residents have criticized the organizations of political grandstanding, partisian politics, a tool shed for governmental employees and being clueless on what residents want and need. The major criticism is that the presence of two organizations has turned into turf wars. The former president of one sent the other a letter stating that a portion of the community did not want to be represented by them. Also, on several local issues regarding businesses, it turns into one will say yes and the other will automatically say no. It has been a tradition in the ward for the Alderman to refer business owners who want to potentially open up to gain community organization approval. This process has gotten out of hand and prompted the current Alderman to state that he will not allow community organizations to stymie economic development.

Recently, a convenience store that was rumored that they were going to apply for a liquor license finally approached the Alderman for support. The Alderman refused to support the issue and as the news made its way around the community, it was very apparent that the community opposed the issuance of a liquor license. Subsequently, a group of residents decided that they wanted to start a community organization. The group decided on the name ReUnite- Chatham. I was contacted and attended a meeting.

This is where the BS begins, it was apparent that I was not suppose to have been invited to this meeting but it was nothing that could be done. The organizer which is a block club president started off the meeting selling woof tickets. The moderator stated that the current community organizations have not been proactive but reactive to issues, there were a lack of recreational opportunities for young adults and teens and other criticisms. A comment from the audience was a long time resident stated she hadn't heard of the other community organizations. I personally took exception to the statement that the community had a lack of recreational activities for young adults and teens as the church where the meeting took place has a young adult choir and teen club open to the community. Also, the Chicago Park District Superintendent for Cole Park lives in our community and has broght a number of programs back to the Park. Then it hit me what was going on here when former Alderman Niles Sherman(21) who has an on going dispute with current Alderman Howard Brookins was attempted to play political godfather in the 6th ward and the comment he made against one community organization was totally unwarranted and a misrepresentation. After the comments speakers from the Mayor's office and the Chicago Police Department spoke. I left the meeting because I saw that this meeting was political and they wanted to pimp the residents for their political gain. No representatives from either community organization or the Alderman office was invited or present.

As we end this year and enter a new one it appeared that there might be a truce called over the "turf wars" but with this new organization, ReUiting Chatham was not on the agenda but rather the political aspirations of wanna be and defeated political candidates being mentored by a wash up has been former Alderman who has been exiled from his former ward.

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