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More space, less violence in her suburb

Diane Gonnigan loves her University Park home.

She and hubby Keith moved there from Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood in January 2007 to be closer to family. Her brother already lived in Olympia Fields, she said.

They are among African-Americans who traded Chicago addresses for suburban abodes during the last decade.

University Park village’s 7,100 African-American population grew from 83.9 percent in the year 2000 to 89.7 percent in 2010.

Gonnigan, whose mother lived with her at the time, said the choice allowed her family to build a house with a main level that was entirely wheelchair assessable, a large kitchen, a laundry room and a garage.

“There’s a lot more land,” she said. “In Chicago, it was just too inconvenient to expand.”

The couple began building on a corner lot in a subdivision in late 2005. Her mother died a month after moving into the new home.

“So she got a chance to experience the spacious quarters,” she said.

A contract writer at an insurance company, Gonnigan said she likes that the community is quieter than the one she left.

“It’s peaceful; less violent,” she said.

And she can catch shuteye during the Metra train commute.

“I ride end to end. I love it! I can get sleep and don’t have to worry about missing my stop.”

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