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.