Austin is wide awake already

? Ald. Isaac Carothers sent the following response to Arlene Jones' recent column While Austin sleeps, the gentrifiers creep closer, Jan. 13:

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By Ald. Isaac Carothers, One View

The Austin community, particularly the 29th Ward, is one of the finest communities in Chicago, and it is on the move. The 29th Ward has never looked better, and there are continuous signs of progress. When I was first elected in 1999, one of the first signs of our progress was the awarding of $1 million to Pastor Joseph Jones to save a wonderful housing development, Bethesda Manor. Bethesda Manor, located at Central and Monroe, was created to provide more affordable housing in our community.

Later we went on to revitalize Madison Street with a wonderful streetscaping project, complete with new lighting and the beautification of the medians. We have also rebuilt more sidewalks, streets, and alleys than ever before. The new Oscar De Priest Elementary School has recently opened its doors and the new Duke Ellington School is soon to follow. The 29th Ward has also seen the rebuilding of the once-dilapidated Central Avenue Bridge. Soon, a new 15th District police station will be opening on Madison Street. The 29th Ward led the way in voting in the last general election by being the number one ward in the entire city for vote production in a critical election.

Our community is made up of people from all walks of life and housing should be reflective of the community. Many people who live in our ward have homes that appraise at $300,000, and we should have a mixed housing stock. We should have housing available for those who need less expensive housing and those who can afford more.

Although we face challenges, I have never referred to Austin or the 29th Ward as being a blighted community, and it is unfortunate that Arlene Jones, who is not a resident of the 29th Ward, did not take a mere ten seconds to contact me regarding the allegations. It is easy to write negative stories and hide behind an ink pen.

I wake up every day thinking of ways to improve the 29th Ward, and I do not expect it to get the attention of the negative writers who tear down their own communities. However, I do expect them to make sure the facts are indeed correct and at least be accurate in their writing. Perhaps that is too much to ask because if they focused on the truth, they would have to write about new schools, new police stations, new bridges, new streets, sidewalks and alleys, a new Senior Citizen facility, new market rate housing, affordable housing, and the new spirit of this ward and its drive to be the best in the city.

This is why I believe, and consistently say, that "The West Side is the Best Side."

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