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Wrigleyville needs more cops on beat

Updated: May 24, 2012 8:06AM



Move over, Rush Street. Lake View is the new Chicago Party Central.

I’m no Debbie Downer. I like a party or three. Yet, my North Side neighborhood, which includes Wrigleyville and Boystown, is an ever-swelling bastion of beer-soaked bashes.

Baseball summerlong. Mega rock concerts. Football games. Skating fests. The Pride Parade. The city’s biggest street fair, North Halsted Market Days. A Halloween March. Bars, bars, bars.

Is enough never enough?

Now, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman reports that Emanuel is considering a “Fenway Plan” that would expand the fun and games at the Friendly Confines.

Modeled after the remaking of Boston’s Fenway Park, it might include as much as $150 million in ads and sponsorships to boost a Wrigley makeover. Possible options include more signage, a jumbotron in right field, street fairs on Sheffield and Waveland on game days, more concerts and football games and a fancy stadium club and restaurant.

In exchange, Emanuel is reportedly open to chipping in some tax revenues. While the mayor wheels and deals, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) is focused in his “paramount” concern — public safety.

“If there is an idea of expanding Wrigley Field using tax dollars, specifically amusement tax dollars, we need a greater presence of police in our neighborhood,” Tunney told me Thursday.

Tunney is pushing City Hall for a dedicated police detail for Lake View’s entertainment district, during the late-night and overnight hours. The area has been a “hot spot” he says, for as long as he has been alderman.

Last July, the pot boiled over when a midnight street brawl and stabbing in Boystown spread fear and outrage. The police sent in reinforcements, and local businesses staffed up on their own security. Tunney has called for a police unit similar to one that has been assigned to patrol Rush Street.

Tunney knows that every alderman is clamoring for more cops, and many neighborhoods are grappling with a lot more than drunks and street brawls.

And alcohol cannot be Lake View’s leading economic indicator.

While he argues the area is safe, he worries about “perceptions,” and says he is working with businesses and residents to create more “family-friendly” activities. Tunney fears a “tragic incident” is waiting to happen.

Emanuel and Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy “are working with Alderman Tunney to analyze the security needs of the 44th ward,” responds a written statement from police spokeswoman Melissa Stratton. “The Mayor has said, relating to Wrigley Field, that he is committed to protecting the taxpayers. The City is in discussions with the Cubs, which have been productive, but there is no agreement at this point.”

Before one more street is closed off, before one more billboard goes up, before one more beer is poured, before our tax dollars go to the Ricketts family playground, the city should ensure that all our streets are safe.



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