A reported compromise ward map subdivides McKinley Park between 11th and 12th wards.

Neighborhood Demands Single-Ward Representation

Published May 12, 2022

The McKinley Park neighborhood, an area comprising Chicago’s official McKinley Park Community Area and historic Central Manufacturing District, has collectively demanded that it remain within a single Chicago ward through the current redistricting process.

 
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A wide-ranging cadre of community groups, elected officials, neighborhood institutions and enterprises invested in McKinley Park have co-signed a public letter advocating that McKinley Park remain within a single ward, whether through municipal action or voter referendum.

 
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“Our neighborhood is harmed when it’s chopped up between multiple wards,” said Agnes Bednarkiewicz, president of the McKinley Park Civic Association, the community’s longest-lived community group, active since the 1970s.

“It doesn’t matter which ward we’re in, or who represents us,” Bednarkiewicz said. “We just want to have McKinley Park reside entirely within a single ward.”

14 Co-Signatories

The civic association unanimously adopted the public letter at its meeting on May 4, 2022, at the McKinley Park branch of the Chicago Public Library. To date, 14 signatories have signed on, representing the neighborhood across a spectrum of interests based on broad and inclusive outreach.

These signatories include Bednarkiewicz; Justin Kerr, publisher of the McKinley Park News; Andrew Fogaty, Executive Director of the 36Squared Business Incubator; 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas; Theresa McNamara, chairperson of the Southwest Environmental Alliance; Alison Altmeyer, executive director of the Aquinas Literacy Center; Jeannie Balanda, executive director of Amate House; Thomas Brantley, president of Fifth Avenue Capital Partners, Inc.; Daniel Gaichas, founder of the Omega Delta Youth Baseball & Softball League; Marian Strok, principal of Evergreen Academy Middle School; Patrick McGuire, commander of William McKinley American Legion Post 231; Beata (Betty) Skorusa, head of school for Montesssori Foundations of Chicago; Illinois 2nd District State Representative Theresa Mah; and Carina Chappell, president of the McKinley Dog Park Advisory Council.

 
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City Council Agreement

As previously reported here in the McKinley Park News, a contentious process of redrawing ward map boundaries had offered two prospective maps from Chicago City Council factions, with the possibility of a voter referendum if at least 41 out of 50 alderwomen and aldermen could not collectively agree on a map.

However, recent media reports indicate that a majority coalition has formed around a map: one that irregularly subdivides McKinley Park between the 11th and 12th wards.

The public letter notes the many reasons why McKinley Park should not be divided into multiple wards, including good governance, well-established community identity and boundaries, and past harm.

Change.org Petition

“McKinley Park has suffered greatly being subdivided into multiple wards,” the letter stated. This includes disinvestment, bad zoning decisions, gangs finding homes in distant ward tendrils and “more than a decade of blight from the former, abandoned Wrigley Co. factory at West 35th Street and South Ashland Avenue,” the letter said.

 
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In addition to the community letter, a Change.org petition allows any interested resident to add their voice and advocate that Chicago’s McKinley Park neighborhood reside within a single ward. This petition is accessible at https://chng.it/ZDTHYqH9NH.

 
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“McKinley Park’s best interests are to keep our neighborhood whole,” Bednarkiewicz said. “We encourage all to speak up and help keep McKinley Park in a single ward.”

Text of the Letter

May 12, 2022

Keep McKinley Park Whole: A Public Letter

We, the undersigned citizens, organizations, leaders and stakeholders of Chicago’s McKinley Park neighborhood, demand all assistance and consideration to keep our community within a single City of Chicago ward through the upcoming ward redistricting process.

Whether through Chicago City Council action or voter referendum, our community should be represented by a single ward office and elected official, no matter who may serve in this role. We ask this because:

  • McKinley Park is a distinct, discrete community: one of Chicago’s official Community Areas; well-defined by natural and man-made boundaries; with a strong community identity buttressed by our namesake park and neighborhood organizations, institutions and enterprises; and recognized by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) through successful development of a detailed neighborhood plan.
     
  • McKinley Park has suffered greatly being subdivided into multiple wards, distanced from assistance, consideration and prioritization by our city’s elected officials, as seen through harm that ranges from past destructive down-zoning of the West 35th Street retail corridor to gang activity flourishing within distant ward tendrils to more than a decade of blight from the former, abandoned Wrigley Co. factory at West 35th Street and South Ashland Avenue.
     
  • Ward boundaries that chop up our neighborhood make no sense outside of servitude to selfish political ambition. Neighbors in our community who are right across the street from each other – as well as businesses and families who reside side by side – should be represented by the same elected city official, receiving equal attention and consideration for our entire neighborhood’s best interests.

We ask that the entire McKinley Park neighborhood be included within a single ward, including both the McKinley Park Community Area and the Central Manufacturing District fronting West Pershing Road, as this historic area is intractably connected to, and only accessible from, McKinley Park.

Whether keeping McKinley Park whole involves a Chicago City Council-supported ward map, or voters choosing a ward map in a referendum, our community’s best interests are to keep the McKinley Park Community Area and Central Manufacturing District within a single ward.


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