DNA Info: Bernard Stone Park Helps Make Chicago A ‘Two-Waterfront City,’ Mayor Says

WEST RIDGE — City officials gathered Wednesday to officially dedicate a West Ridge parking lot-turned-green space to former Ald. Bernard “Berny” Stone, calling it a “special” place that will welcome visitors to Chicago.

“All the parks in the 50th Ward are beautiful, but I feel that this one is special because it is what is seen first at the gateway to our 50th Ward, and to the wonderful city of Chicago,” said 50th Ward Ald. Debra Silverstein during the ribbon-cutting ceremony, alongside Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Park District Supt. Mike Kelly.

It was a “very exciting day” for the long-awaited project to come to fruition, Silverstein said, adding it was “wonderful for the community and has transformed an old crumbling lot into beautiful green space.”

The area, which consists of fitness stations, benches, landscaping and soon a new sculpture, now connects a walking and bike path on the North Shore channel from Lawrence Avenue in Albany Park to Green Bay Road in Evanston.

Emanuel said the park and its use as a crucial link to Chicago’s smaller waterways was a big step in the city’s larger goal of “Building on Burnham” and bolstering its parks.

“To take our river and make it part of our recreational park system, this investment, this ribbon-cutting today, is the first true installation of that effort,” the mayor said. “[It] makes us truly a two-waterfront city.”

The park is owned by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and leased by the Park District.

Last year, the City Council approved using tax increment financing to fund a restoration of the land, which hugs the North Shore Channel between Lincoln and Kedzie avenues and Devon Avenue and McCormick Road on the border of North Park and West Ridge near suburban Lincolnwood.

The park sits just north of the Lincoln Village shopping center, where Stone had a ward office during a chunk of his 38 years serving the Far North Side. He was unseated by Silverstein in 2011 and died at the age of 87 in 2014.

Stone’s family was present at Wednesday’s ceremony, and Silverstein called the park a “fitting tribute to [Stone’s] decades of service.”

City officials, including 50th Ward Ald. Debra Silverstein and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, cut the ribbon at the new Bernard L. Stone Park in West Ridge.

DNAinfo: That Old, Run-down Movie Theater Parking Lot Is Going To Become a Park

MWRDThe 2-acre parking lot attached to a vacant movie theater “eyesore” on McCormick Road will be transformed into a simple park with turf, a state official said.

“It’s been there for a long time,” said David St. Pierre, executive director of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, which owns the property. “We worked for the past 10 years with different scenarios of people having interest in developing something. It just has never quite made it to the finish line.”

Residents living near the lot and former movie theater call it an eyesore and have been pushing both the city and reclamation district to fix up the property. They said it attracts criminals and gang activity.

Read more at DNAinfo…

Rabbi Baruch Hertz

DNA Info: Orthodox Rabbi Can't Drive, So He Walks 5 Miles to Serve Two Congregations

Rabbi Baruch HertzLAKEVIEW — As he ventured outside late on a recent Friday night, Rabbi Baruch Hertz exclaimed, “It’s not that cold.”

But it was actually below freezing, at 10 p.m., and Hertz was getting ready to embark on a 5.5-mile walk with his wife, Chanie, three of their 11 children, and two of their kids’ friends.

The group was making the hike from Lakeview — where Hertz runs the Chabad center at 655 W. Irving Park Rd. — because it was Shabbat, the weekly Jewish holiday when Orthodox Jews are forbidden to operate machinery, turn electricity on or off, or drive.

So they set out on foot, in the bitter cold, from a Shabbat dinner at the center — which also teaches Hasidic values and customs to children and adults — to their home in West Rogers Park. There, Hertz has headed the Congregation B’Nei Ruven for nearly 21 years and serves as the dean of students at the 90-pupil Lubavitch Girls High School, which are both located at 6350 N. Whipple St.

“Almost, it’s if I wish I could do the walk every day,” Hertz, 47, said last week in the days before the walk. “When you walk, I get energized. We enjoy what we do.”

Hertz agreed to allow a reporter to join his group on the nearly two-hour journey on the condition the reporter not take notes or photos or do any sort of work during the actual walk.

The journey took the group west on Irving Park through Lakeview and North Center, northwest on Lincoln Avenue into the heart of Lincoln Square and finally north on California Avenue past Mather High School into West Rogers Park.

In that time, the group — which included three of Hertz’s sons, the oldest 12 years old — shared jokes and told Jewish stories. Discussions about Hanukkah, which begins Wednesday night, was one of the main themes.

There was only one stop. One of the friends had to use the restroom, and it was somewhat difficult to find one that was located in a business that had late-night hours and didn’t use electronic sliding doors. Finally, a Dunkin Donuts was found.

Hertz said he had made the walk once or twice a month for the last eight or nine years, regardless of the weather. During the High Holidays like Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, he will do it twice in one day. During some Shabbats, if he’s too tired or the weather is too dangerous, he will stay at a condo he owns in Lakeview.

“It’s an hours-long walk, but it’s not a big deal for him like it would be for many people,” said Amanda Swart, the office manager at B’Nei Ruven, who has yet to participate in the walk. “It’s routine for him.”

Hertz, who was born in the United States but grew up in London, has made many friends along the route of his walk. At Lincoln Square’s Le Cafe, which was closed by the time the group passed it Friday, employees have given them glasses of water, which can’t come from electric water fountains. Hertz also knows many workers who let him and guests use their businesses’ restrooms.

When told about the many great restaurants along their path, Hertz said he and his group are always oblivious to them and would never think about eating at any of them because they aren’t kosher.


Read the full story by Justin Breen…