Thursday, November 20, 2008

Don't Forget To Vote!

posted by Richard Gill

Hyde Park Activists Protest Relocation of 55th St
US Post OfficeFrom Basement to Ground Level

It was a really nice surprise, November 17, seeing the newly relocated post office open for business in the Hyde Park Shopping Center. Even though it’s just a little thing, the post office relocation did actually happen. In this neighborhood, that’s something.

Like a lot of other things that Hyde Park needs, the new post office took nearly forever to materialize. It took more than a full year for the post office to move out of a cramped basement into its new storefront quarters. But unlike the typical Hyde Park eternal delay, this one didn’t involve willful obstruction by community “activists”. In this case, there was no endless dispute involving anti-development forces in the neighborhood.

Several days ago, however, it had fleetingly crossed my mind that Jack Spicer might be trying to stop the post office relocation¬—perhaps to “preserve” it in its dungeon as “an irreplaceable artifact” of the now-defunct Hyde Park Co-op; or that Hans Morsbach might claim that the relocated facility would “burden our infrastructure.” Morsbach, after all, worked hard to stop another project—a hotel that the community really, really needs. He and some others (bankrolled and abetted by a big labor union named UNITE HERE) barely managed to squeeze through a precinct-level vote to render their home precinct dry. That precinct—the same precinct in which the hotel would have been built—covers about four square blocks. That stopped the hotel. This neighborhood-wide debacle was pulled off by just a few people with willful tunnel vision. So much for their professed concern for the community at large.

This tragic neighborhood loss was significant enough to attract the attention of the Chicago Tribune. In a November 19, 2008 editorial “A loss for Hyde Park,” the Tribune said, “This is a shame. The neighborhood does not benefit from this vote. Chicago does not benefit.”

Hans Morsbach owns the Medici restaurant on 57th Street. So he knows about the value of businesses and amenities to this neighborhood. But he chose to work to defeat the hotel proposal. If he can thumb his nose like that at the community, then as far as I’m concerned, the community need not patronize his business establishment. Until recently, I was a fairly frequent customer at Medici. Not anymore. I have already steered a group away from the place, and I expect to do it again. Morsbach used the vote to stop something that would have greatly benefitted Hyde Park. Potential customers of Medici can also vote. With their feet.


Otto said...

Until recently, I was a fairly frequent customer at Medici.

Attica! Attica!

LPB said...

I used to think of Morsbach as a neighborhood character -- sort of a loud-mouthed blow-hard blunderbuss, but essentially benign.

PDV (Post Dry Vote), I now think he is immensely short-sighted, exclusively self-interested, and extremely harmful to the neighborhood. I'm doing everything I can to steer anyone and everyone away from patronizing any Morsbach establishments.

BTW, it is now Day 17 PDV and I still haven't heard of any new hotel developers sniffing around the Doctors Hospital site. Despite all the Pro-Dry claims that alternative hotel developers would be eagerly lining up for the opportunity to develop Doctors Hospital, I think Hyde Park has been Rechtenschafted.

chicago pop said...

LPB, I think you mean "Rechtschaffted," but point well taken nonetheless.

chicago pop said...

The media is finally realizing that the real news from Hyde Park this past Nov. 4 was not Obama, it was Doctors Hospital.

The Chicago Reader gives a predictably pro-NIMBY account, which conflates the 39th Precinct with "Hyde Park" and the anti-dry vote with the University. Fits much more nicely into the style of populism popular at this publication.

Anonymous said...

I voted with my feet a while ago. And now when people planning to visit the neighborhood tell me they're looking for good pizza I tell them "Florian". Or even Italian Fiesta (Obama's favorite pizza!).

bornatreese said...

The bathrooms at Florian need to be renovated. They smell. Takes me back to the old Medici.

LPB said...

For anyone who would like an alternative catering resource, please remember to check out Zalesky & Horvath!!

They do catering, and I can vouch that their coffee and scones are truly delicious.

* Disclosure: No one paid me or asked me to put in this plug. I just want to see a worthwhile business in the neighborhood succeed.