I decided to look at the public record and create a timeline of what happened when. The information below is taken from public statements, press releases, news reports, and the alderman’s newsletter.
February 2015 LEARN (Library Enhancement and Renewal Network) Coalition formed by concerned individuals and community groups seeking to bring a new library to West Ridge
March – Dec 2015 LEARN members begin to educate public on need for a new
library, create a Web site and Facebook page; meet with alderman
June – Aug 2016 LEARN members gather 2,500 signatures on petition in support of a new library
September 2016 LEARN leadership meets with alderman and presents petition
October 21, 2016 Mayor announces library-senior housing building to be constructed at Pratt & Western Avenues
October 21, 2016 Alderman reiterates announcement in email to residents (email includes picture)
October 28, 2016 Alderman reiterates Mayor’s announcement (newsletter includes picture)
November 4, 2016 Alderman announces community meting on November 14
November 11, 2016 Alderman reminds community of November 14 meeting
November 14, 2016 Alderman emails community meeting reminder; holds well-attended meeting; does not mention the work of LEARN Coalition. Says this is the first of “numerous community meetings” she plans to hold about library; later refers to “…many, many meetings” to come; states “this is not the last meeting.” Meeting is attended by CHA and CPL officials, who offer handout demonstrating what library and housing units “could” look like. No specifics on either; alderman and both officials repeatedly state that “everything is on the table” and “we’ll figure it out.” LEARN Coalition Chair speaks at meeting and stresses need for “consistent communication,” asks that all parts of the community be involved in decision-making, and volunteers LEARN to help coordinate outreach efforts
November 18, 2016 Alderman reports on November 14 community meeting; does not mention LEARN Coalition (newsletter includes two pictures)
December 30, 2016 Alderman recaps 2016; mentions new library (newsletter includes picture)
January 20, 2017 Alderman announces Jan. 30 community input meeting
January 27, 2017 Alderman announces postponement of Jan. 30 meeting
February 27 , 2017 LEARN leaders meet with alderman, advise of LEARN survey, reiterate willingness to help gather community input
March 2, 2017 LEARN finalizes online community input survey, which is then released via email; survey availability announced on social media Web sites, blogs, and other networks
March 3, 2017 Alderman announces library is “proceeding on schedule” and that she “…will hold another public meeting to begin gathering community input, so we can all work together….”
March 10, 2017 Alderman announces March 20 meeting
March 15, 2017 CHA receives Special Warranty Deed to property, thus acquiring ownership; no public announcement is made
March 17, 2017 Alderman reminds community of March 20 meeting; provides link to community input survey she developed with her heretofore unknown community “advisory board” but does not announce names of the advisory board’s members; mentions LEARN survey but does not provide link to it
March 17, 2017 Mayor calls various members of the press to talk about the exciting new library-housing designs he is about to release
March 18, 2017 Less than 24 hours after Alderman releases her community input survey, Mayor releases designs for new library-senior housing buildings to press
March 19, 2017 Chicago Tribune publishes drawings of new library designs and story by Blair Kamin, who notes that “…it’s difficult to judge at this stage whether the plans rise to the most important standard for projects of this type. Meeting human needs.” He later adds “What’s troubling is that the rapid-fire [design] competition did not allow for extensive community input. That’s still to come.”
March 20, 2017 Alderman sends email reminding community of meeting. Asks residents to complete library survey that she and her advisory council developed.
March 20, 2017 Community Meeting to provide community input held. Begins with announcement by Mr. Jones of CHA that the building design is not final, says alderman has received many calls about it. Gist of meeting is that nothing has been decided since November 2016, all ideas, suggestions, etc. still open. Some older adults ask that senior center be part of design. Potential parking issues discussed. Alderman says she “hopes” library will spur commercial development on Western. Alderman does not announce names or affiliations of her advisory board, or how they were selected. Another input meeting to be scheduled.
March 27, 2017 Alderman says in her newsletter that response to her survey is “fantastic” but does not release number of responses nor any preliminary results.
April 7, 2017 Alderman releases survey results.
April 17, 2017 LEARN releases its survey results.
April 21, 2017 Alderman announces community meeting for May 1 with CPL, CHA, and architects to unveil final design and receive community input on library-senior housing complex.
May 1, 2017 Community Meeting to discuss library component of new building.
June 12, 2017 Alderman hosts fourth community meeting, this one focusing on the senior housing components of the new building. Design is now final.
July 11, 2017 CHA and Evergreen Development host public comment meeting at Budlong Woods Library. The purpose of the meeting is to provide feedback from community members on Lease, House Rules, and Tenant Selection Process. Only two residents attend. Questions about financing and tenant selection remain after meeting.