Several months after winning a seat in the Chicago City Council during a runoff election in April, Ald. Michael Scott, Jr. (24th) laid out what he called his vision for the ward. The 39-year-old politician addressed more than 100 residents at a public meeting hosted by the North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council (NLCCC) at the Sinai Community Institute, 2653 West Ogden Ave.
The NLCCC has been in formation since May, the group’s organizers said. It comprises Lawndale stakeholders — including business owners, community organizations and elected officials — who have come together to create what NLCCC members say would be North Lawndale’s first legally binding comprehensive plan.
Scott told the audience that NLCCC’s prospects for acquiring the grant are promising before outlining his future plans for the ward, delineating them into four areas: education, housing, economic development and public safety.
The alderman said he’s been in contact with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) officials about the possibility of bringing a magnet elementary school to North Lawndale — something he said the district seems “very receptive about” doing after tempering expectations by pointing out the preliminary nature of the talks.
In the area of housing, Scott referenced three development projects — Homan Square Apartments Phase IV, the Montclare supportive living facility and the Sterling Apartments — that he said might work to stabilize his ward’s housing stock.
Scott said he wants to create a community development corporation that incorporates “the entire West Side — not just North Lawndale.” He also advocated for consolidating the community’s various chambers of commerce into one, which would work with the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce on plans to cultivate local businesses in the area.
Scott, who co-founded the Chicago Westside Music Festival (CWMF), said he’s been working with the Chicago Park District on plans for a permanent outdoor music venue that would attract events like the CWMF and Riot Fest with regularity.
“We want to bring more events like that into an area that won’t restrict other uses of the park like soccer and that will be in a place that won’t tear up grass,” he said.
A Riot Fest representative estimated that the costs associated with prepping, maintaining and cleaning Douglas Park for this year’s punk rock festival were around $180,000.
Scott said he is also talking with the owners of Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, 2621 W. 15th Pl., about coordinated visits to the property that would allow outsiders “to see what they’re doing and generate revenue.”
Scott also noting that he’s collaborating with Cook County Commissioner Robert Steele (2nd) and state Rep. Arthur Turner, Jr. (D-9th) on the renaissance and revamping of Roosevelt Road.
In the area of public safety, Scott said he wants to replicate the “Night Out in the Parks” event held each year by the Chicago Park District. He said he’ll work with community and faith-based organizations to tailor a similar event for the West Side, which could be called “Neighbors Out in the Street.”
“I want N. Lawndale to be a great place where we can all live, work, play and raise our families. I have three little people I’m raising in North Lawndale and I want them to be able to go out and enjoy the things I was able to enjoy when I was a little kid — things my parents and my grandparents talked about in the heyday of North Lawndale,” said the Chicago park district manager and son of the late Chicago Board of Education President Michael Scott, Sr.
Scott recalled his grandparents telling him “how Roosevelt and Pulaski was lined with businesses and our industrial corridor rivaled that of anyone’s in the entire world. I want the same thing to happen for us today.”