Martwick accused of hiding from Jefferson Park housing debate
Jefferson Park residents are starting to feel like Rep. Robert Martwick (D-Chicago) is missing in action when it comes to the low-income housing debate that has embroiled the neighborhood this summer, according to Republican Ammie Kessem, who has announced her plans to run against Martwick in the 19th District next year.
Martwick has been careful not to take a public position, drawing the ire of many.
“His constituents deserve to have a state representative who stands up for them,” Kessem told the Chicago City Wire. “Robert Martwick has continually ignored those pleas for help. It is clear that his reluctance is based on his personal relationships with those that are in favor of this building.”
Kessem argues that a petition against the housing project signed by more than 5,800 area residents shows where the community stands on the issue.
“A lot of the people I have been speaking with are aware of this issue,” she said. “I have yet to run into a single one who is for it.”
Meanwhile, documents obtained from the city by opponents of the 5150 N. Northwest Highway plan through a Freedom of Information Act request that that were published by Nadig Newspapers suggest that the plan might have hit a snag since the property was rezoned just months ago.
According to Nadig, among the documents released were e-mails involving 45th Ward Alderman John Arena and a developer discussing how city funding for the seven-story project might be in jeopardy and what other options might be available.
The project calls for 30 Chicago Housing Authority, 20 market-rate and 50 affordable units.
In all, Arena has vowed to end what he deems neighborhood segregation by bringing in a cluster of new CHA units over the next two years.
“Density is our biggest concern,” Kessem said. “Our schools are already busting at the seams. Our police station has a lack of manpower and equipment. Our Infrastructure will not support more traffic.”
Kessem said she can’t understand why the project is being solely left up to Arena.
“People who live in the Jefferson Park neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods choose to live there because they enjoy the quiet, uncomplicated lifestyle that many people move out to the suburbs to gain,” she said. “It's one of the last places that people can live like they are in the burbs, and I think it's wrong for one man to decide that he is going to change this.”
Kessem insisted that those who have turned the debate into an issue of race are way off base.
“Jefferson Park and the surrounding neighborhoods have never been an area where there is inherent racism,” she said.