What's distinctive about this week's pressing is a certain bouquet of incoherence, with peppery notes that finish with an aftertaste of contradiction. Such unpredictabilities, tho', are part of the joy of NIMBYism. Heretofore, we haven't devoted much time to a noisy little row among the neighbors of Bar Louie, one that has catapulted Sharonjoy A. Jackson to neighborhood fame and has taken up fully half of this week's Op-Ed page. Her arrival as an Establishment figure was this week Heralded when she was interviewed as a "source" in the conflict over Boisterousness and Parking near the controversial restaurant.
It will be remembered that Ms. Jackson, one of the first guests to NIMBYs corner, is East Hyde Park's promoter of Bucolic lakeside living, full of Tranquility not known in the commercial districts to the north. This week, her plaint is directed mostly to other people not taking her seriously, and though not therefore really related to NIMBYism, she does finish this week's letter with the following:
The only other chain that has entered the Hyde Park community is Borders, which, as predicted, is not doing well. Let us keep and nurture the small businesses, which are assets to our community, rather than those large, commercial entities that add nothing positive to our community -- and which show little, if any, interest in our community, our needs, and our uniqueness. And, yes, this is a community.
Editorial Fact Check: Quite a number of chains are alive and doing well in Hyde Park. I shop at most of them. A few of them are: Starbucks (3 locations that I know of); Potbelly Sandwich Works; Edwardo's Pizza; Jimmy John's; FedEx-Kinkos; Pepe's; Ace Hardware; Office Depot; Harold's Chicken; Leona's; McDonald's; Dunkin' Donuts; Baskin Robbins; Wok-N-Roll; The Great Frame Up; CVS; Walgreens; Boston Market; UPS Store; Radio Shack; Binny's; Domino's Pizza; Edible Arrangements, and Hollywood Video. I've probably missed a few. Borders wants to move out of two other custom-built stores (at Broadway and Lawrence in Uptown, and Clyborn and North in Lincoln Park), so the Hyde Park situation is not unusual, and most likely is related to the same trend to internet commerce that has doomed Dr. Wax.
Upshot: much of Hyde Park commerce ALREADY consists of chain stores, and no one is complaining. We need a lot of what they offer because we can't get it anywhere else. Painting Bar Louie with the brush of failed chain stores in Hyde Park therefore doesn't convince.
A much more curious piece of NIMBAGE is authored by one William F. Zieske, who actually introduces the term NIMBY into his letter. We only hope he's been reading NIMBY's Corner! But we can't quite figure out what he thinks: is he a NIMBY, or not? At first glance, he seems to be with us in denouncing NIMBYism everywhere:
Hyde Park-Kenwood is an affluent neighborhood, and is blessed with more parkland than ANY other neighborhood in the entire city. Look at a city map -- we are surrounded by vast green spaces and the blue of our beautiful lake. We have the right resources, transportation facilities, a location just minutes from the Loop, and already have the community vitality and prominence to make Hyde Park an attractive destination for Olympic athletes and fans world-wide.
Are we the ones who should be making [a] NIMBY argument, selfishly refusing to share a small fraction of our pristine parks, and hoving the burdens of hte Olympics on other neighborhoods?
Editorial Comment: All well and good so far, and full of good common sense. But here comes the CAVE to Establishment Orthodoxy.
We in Hyde Park-Kenwood should gladly give up some of our over-abundance of green grass for venues that would attract the world to visit Chicago in 2016, and to spend money here that can help build the much-needed parks, hospitals, and community centers -- not a stadium --in the communities that need them.Mr. Zieske is therefore on board for doing everything we need to in order to host the Olympics, with the exception of being able to host the Olympics. So use the parkland, bring the people and the cash, but don't build a stadium. Just pass out folding chairs and pretend it's Ravinia. Alas, this letter came a hair's breadth from our Hyde Park Heroes column; instead, it landed in NIMBY's Corner for failing to perceive the anti-stadium argument as textbook NIMBYism.
Lastly is another itemization of complaints against the proposed Marriott, this one slightly different from that of Hans More-bucks and notably lacking the delightful category of "façadism". Mr. Allan Rechtschaffen notes with almost Victorian disapprobation that the Marriott plan is driven by "the profit motive." This variety of NIMBYism has distinct top-notes of know-it-all-ness given structure by solid anti-capitalism.
Many have questioned why we need a 380 room hotel. Surely it is more than we need for university and community purposes. The answer again was that this size favored profitability.Editorial Comment: Surely it is more than we need? What neighborhood coffee-clatch did the market study to back this one up?
It is ultimately a matter of taste, but most people I have spoken to think the design is not what we want at the gateway of the university community...My understanding is that it is not Marriott's top-of-the-line model. Costs and profits again!Editorial Comment: We've already highlighted the high aesthetic bar set by the proposed hotel's neighbor, the Vista Homes. But here it is inferred that what is called for is Marriott top-of-the-line hotel (fully unionized of course). But could low-paid academics and frugal Hyde Parkers really afford Marriott's top-of-the-line model? We need a hotel for conventions, conferences, and private events, but it's unlikely that anyone's tab is going to be underwritten by J. Walter Thompson, Citadel Group, or Aon Corporation. A little more familiarity with "the profit motive" and how it works might help the writer understand what it takes for an academic neighborhood to get a 5-Star, "top-of-the-line" hotel in its backyard.