...And That's My Opinion©

By Sandy Goldman

The Rogers Park Community Curmudgeon

The Air Rings With...

The origin of the sirens began many centuries ago with the hero of Greek mythology - Odysseus. Many will recall that in Homer's epic tale, Odysseus plugged the ears of his sailors with wax, then tied himself to the mast of his ship in order to resist the bewitching calls of the sirens and avoid destruction on the rocks. It is believed that this occurred somewhere near modern Sorrento, Italy along the Mediterranean Sea

In another legend the Argonauts, sailing aboard the Argo, escaped destruction because Orpheus sang so sweetly he drowned out the provocative siren calls.

In Germany, there is the Lorelei, the siren of the Rhine River near St. Goarshausen. The sounds from the Lorelei would draw sailing men close to the rocks where they would be smashed and destroyed.

Here in Rogers Park, on Marshfield Avenue, Carl Steward has discovered a modern version of the sirens. Although thoroughly mechanized (after all, this is soon to be the 21st century) and not as beautiful as the sounds of the ancients, they can never the less draw men to destruction. For the tale of Mr. Steward's dilemma, read on; wax in his ears might have produced better results.

September 10, 1999

William Higginson

Chicago Equity Fund

1 E. Superior Street #604

Chicago, IL. 60611


Dear Mr. Higginson:

It is my understanding that the Chicago Equity Fund is the ultimate owner and manager of the apartment building located at 1614-22 W. Jonquil/7707 N. Marshfield. The building is currently being managed by IMC at 7600 N. Bosworth.

Recently, the above mentioned building was outfitted with outside mounted security cameras and speakers. On the surface, I thought that this was a good idea; the added security was a welcome relief around these really troubled buildings.

On this past Monday, September 6, 1999, I returned home from a really enjoyable weekend in Indiana. Upon my return I was surprised to hear loud static being broadcasted from the speakers. The volume of the static varied in such a way that it was impossible to sit on my patio, because of the annoying background noise. I live in the middle of the block of the 7700 block of North Marshfield. At the writing of this letter there is still static being broadcast over the speakers. Although now it is intermittent, and of varying decibels. This has been occurring for a full week.

On Tuesday morning (September 7th), I called the number listed on the IMC sign in front of the building, and received a recorded message inviting me to leave a message, which I did. I then called the local office (found by calling the IMC office on the southside of Chicago), located at 7600 N. Bosworth. Andrea Jackson answered the phone, and I asked if she was aware that the speakers on the Jonquil building were broadcasting loud static. She indicated that she was aware of it, and that there was nothing she could do about it right now. I then asked if there is an emergency number that community residents could use to contact IMC personal after hours should a problem arise? Her response was NO..you can call this office and leave a message and we will address the problems when the office opens the next day. I then asked, "You are telling me that community residents have no recourse regarding problems in your buildings in off hours?" Her response again was, "You can call this number, leave a message and we will address the problem the next day".

On Wednesday evening, I called the same number (773-743-2300) to report the same loud static problem. This time I got the answering service, I believe it is Reliable Answering Service. I talked to a young lady named BeBe. I asked if they were aware of the loud static from the speakers. She indicated that this was the answering service, and that my problem was not an emergency; therefore, she would not page the manager on duty. Additionally, since I was not a resident of any of IMC properties, I was not eligible to report a problem or ask that a manager be paged.

I am sure by now you can see where this is going...this is my complaint.

I find it very disturbing that after a week, I am forced to listen to loud static being broadcast over these speakers. It is even more disturbing that IMC would erect these types of walls around themselves when they are managing property in my neighborhood. The buildings that IMC is managing have a history of being problem buildings, and management companies that are not responsive to the surrounding community. I called with a simple complaint regarding noise. This was my first attempt to contact IMC regarding a problem surrounding their properties. I am not pleased with the response.

These buildings are in distress, they have major tenant problems, erecting cameras and speakers that are seemingly unmanned does not provide a well managed building. Nor does it inspire local community members to rally around any of your efforts. Alienating surrounding property owners and residents does not present a company or organization that has the community interest in mind. If the intent is to simply warehouse low-income tenants with minimal supervision, with no regard for the surrounding residents and community...this is a problem. If the intent is to cut cost and run these buildings on a tight budget...this is a problem. If the intent is to neutralize any community complaints by being unreachable and unresponsive...this is a problem. If this is your and IMC’s effort to manage property in this neighborhood...this is a problem.

It is painfully obvious to me and all of the residents of this community that these cameras are not manned and the speaker situation is not correctable in a timely fashion. It is also painfully obvious that we have yet another management company in this neighborhood that is aloof, uncaring and unwilling to address simple concerns of the surrounding residents. The speakers are still broadcasting static.

Sleepless and really pissed-off North of Howard,

Carl Steward


More to come in future columns about Mr. Steward's encounter with the Marshfield Avenue siren calls. If Carl was Odysseus, he would have to tie himself to the mast.





In Other Media News

The Chicago Tribune recently (Monday September 20th) wrote about the destruction, by unscreened tenants, of some of the newly constructed low-rise replacement housing at Henry Horner CHA Buildings. It centered particularly on those at West Maypole Ave. The article states, " The problems at Horner raise perplexing questions about whether architecture or more stubborn cultural pathologies are at the heart of public housing woes". Yeah, right!


On The Internet

An E-Mailer reports that the management firm of Urban Residential Services does not do criminal background checks of prospective tenants. They say that such checks are too expensive. The E-Mailer says that such checks may be done for as little as $6.00. Instead, the firm relies on security cameras and eviction proceedings to quell any problems.

Urban Residential Services and the ubiquitous Jay Johnson, are the partners/developers of Gateway Shopping Center, the Howard Theatre project and the proposed 1528 Morse Senior Housing project. In addition they own and/or manage scores of Rogers Park apartments. Does anyone wonder where displaced residents who fear criminal background checks might find an apartment?


Also On The Internet

Jim Stoller E-Mailed the following letter.

Saturday, October 02, 1999 1:52 PM

Please note: Jay Johnson's company is Urban Residential Services
Company and is not in any way connected with my company:
Urban Properties, Inc. Since his company changed names there
has been much confusion. I have spent many years building a
quality real estate firm, and now find our reputation being damaged.
In the future, please refer to Jay Johnson's company by its correct

Thank you,

Jim Stoller


In The Community

On Sept 29th, Alderman Joe Moore (49th) held a meeting to hear the various community visions for some of the former Peoples Housing buildings. They are located at 1714 W. Jonquil, 7715-21 Hermitage and 7732-42 N. Paulina. Holding his hand figuratively, were representatives from Chicago Equity Fund, the omnipresent Hispanic Housing who are on target to becoming the single biggest landlord North of Howard.

Recently, the Morse Avenue Task Force met to discuss neighborhood visions for the revitalization of Morse Avenue.

Remember the story of Odysseus, who stuffed his ears and then remember the fate of those who did not!!!

Pass the wax folks. I'm beginning to feel like Odysseus about to be smashed upon the rocks!!!


 ...And that's my opinion.

And I'm Sandy Goldman

Send me your e-mail address or those of others who would be interested and I'll add them to my rapidly growing distribution list.

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