Monday, February 21, 2011

Hairston Fail #3: Leslie's VIP Lot at 63rd St Beach and Other Parking Give-Aways

[This essay was originally posted as "Alderman Hairston's VIP Fireworks Parking" on July 6, 2010]

posted by Elizabeth Fama

57th St. Beach and fireworks, 7/4/2010.

Yesterday the Tribune reported that 5th-Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston reserved the 63rd Street parking lot on July 4th for an "afternoon anti-violence event." She said she distributed the spaces to "local organizations, vendors, and workers." Ordinary people driving to the fireworks were out of luck if they hoped to park there, even if they arrived early for the celebration.

So apparently free parking along the lakefront isn't a right, as Hairston has ballyhooed for more than a year, it's a privilege. I'd really like to know precisely who in her judgment merited permit parking at the beach on the 4th of July.

From the Tribune: "Hairston said....that she modeled the event after the Air and Water Show, where people have to walk to the area and have few parking options."

"'It's a bunch of bull,' said Alex Hall, 39, who arrived early hoping for a parking spot at the beach, where he has been celebrating the holiday since he was a child. 'We should be able to park and have our own Independence Day.'"

So much for Ms. Hairston's claim in April that spaces in the 63rd Street lot should be as accessible as possible to all Chicagoans, regardless of their means (Maroon, April 30, 2010). So much for her insistence that beach parking should be free. So much for her worry that installing meters is what "discourages people from using the parks."

And so much for the City's goal of making the fireworks more accessible and reducing congestion by moving the display from Grant Park to three separate locations along the lakefront.

I guess since Hairston paid an estimated $77,000 out of her discretionary funds to subsidize summer parking at 63rd Street, she figures she can be queen of the lot.

[Editor's note: Alderman Hairston claimed in a letter to the editor of the Hyde Park Herald (December 15, 2010) -- 5 months after the above post was originally written -- that the total subsidy for the lot at 63rd Street Beach was $42,000 rather than $77,000. At present there is no way to verify this claim. See further discussion of this issue here.]

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