The Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce is footing the bill for two projects meant to improve the safety and appearance of the neighborhoods.
The first, which is nearly completed, includes pressure washing the approximately 14 miles of sidewalk covered by the WPB Special Service Area. The last time the sidewalks were pressure washed was in 2008.
Cleanslate Chicago and Pressure Washing Systems have been contracted to clean up the community's sidewalks in a program that will cost about $90,000, according to chamber of commerce Program Manager Jessica Wobbekind.
Program Assistant Beth Sholtis noted that the southern part of Milwaukee Avenue was the only remaining segment of sidewalk that still needed to be pressure washed.
In addition to removing unsightly stains and stuck-on gum from the sidewalks, the pressure washing will also clear the sidewalks of potential safety hazards.
"When you get down towards the expressway, there's a lot of gravel and broken glass and stuff that ends up on the sidewalk and around the bus stations," Wobbekind said. "People often ride their bikes on the sidewalk because they're hesitant about riding in traffic, so another thing that this addresses is just cleaning up that glass and everything to accommodate people going through the neighborhood."
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The other major neighborhood beautification project that's currently underway is the repair and replacement of the fences surrounding planters on North Avenue. The chamber has contracted Why Not Iron to replace the fences.
The project is scheduled to be completed by Nov. 26, although residents aren't likely to see workers on the street for the next few weeks.
"They're not going to be out on North Avenue working until the end," Sholtis said. "They have to fabricate the fence pieces in their shop."
Once the fencing is ready to be installed, Sholtis said any disruption to traffic and travel caused by the work would be minimal. Pieces will be bolted together, and no welding will be done on-site.
Sholtis said the chamber undertook the project after several complaints from the community about the current, damaged fences.
"It's pretty unsightly, and in a sense, it can be dangerous, too, when half the fence is half-broken or bent," she said. "And the business community, I think, wants the area to be attractive."
The fencing project is estimated to cost about $7,500. Both project are funded through the SSA's property tax levy.
The chamber has a number of other community projects coming down the pipeline in addition to these beautification efforts. There will be a shredding and recycling event in the K-Mart and Jewel parking lot on Ashland from 10 a.m. to noon on Nov. 10, during which residents can bring in sensitive documents for destruction and old electronics for recycling.
There are also plans to plant trees in some of the empty tree pits throughout the SSA in the near future.
What do you think of the chamber's community improvement efforts? Tell us in the comments, and be sure to let the chamber know on its community feedback survey.