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Email to Meghan Harte and Philip Hampton

Email to Meghan Harte and Philip Hampton

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Published by valeriefleonard
Email to Meghan Harte and Philip Hampton regarding the School Repurposing process.
Email to Meghan Harte and Philip Hampton regarding the School Repurposing process.

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Published by: valeriefleonard on Mar 20, 2014
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Dear Ms. Harte and Mr. Hampton: I want to thank you for following up expeditiously on my request for further information regarding school walk throughs and the school repurposing process (March 14, 2014). Ms. Harte and I spoke at length on Monday, but I am only now able to confirm our conversation and share the results with everyone who received copies of the e-mail inquiry last Friday. Since that time, the North Lawndale CAC has met, and I have had a brief conversation with Trina Mangrum, Alderman Chandler's Chief of Staff. This e-mail provides the text of the March 14th email with answers to the questions provided in the conversation of March 17th. It also raises new concerns I have as a result of attending the CAC meeting and talking with Ms. Mangrum. Your assistance in addressing the remaining concerns is most appreciated.
Conversation with Meghan Harte, March 17, 2014
 Mr. Hampton and Ms. Harte,
(I apologize for any duplication. I'm working from multiple lists)
We just learned that CPS (or PBC) is conducting walk-throughs of 43 vacated schools for developers interested in bidding on the buildings. We are very concerned because CPS has  promised to develop a process in which the community would have significant input into the  proposed new uses for the buildings, as well as have an opportunity to submit proposals. CPS and the PBC are actively walking developers through the buildings before there is significant infrastructure in place to staff the repurposing committee; to notify the community of opportunities to participate in a screening process or the process for community planning and  submitting proposals. Can you share with us an update of the re-purposing process? We are specifically interested in knowing more about the following:
1. Whether or not community feedback has been taken into account for the repurposing process.
Ms. Harte indicated that my comments regarding the School Repurposing Report were Given to
CPS, who are taking them under advisement. CPS is gathering other feedback from Aldermen and other community stakeholders.
2. The selection process for the repurpose committee going forward 
CPS and the Repurposing Committee are taking a 3-prong approach at this time.
1. Get a website up at CPS that has all of the schools that are part of the Repurposing Committee's purview, with location and information about each of the buildings. There will be a mechanism to give feedback directly onto the website. There will be drop down categories of re-use (ie, housing, education, commercial, etc.) and a category for "other", so that citizens may suggest other uses. Suggestions may be general, anonymous, or directed toward a specific  building. 2. Work with the Aldermen. CPS and the Repurposing Committee will debrief aldermen on overall recommendations of the committee and set up the community process for each community. 3. Convene CAC's to get input and ask CAC for involvement in community meetings getting an idea of the different uses. Alternative education, housing, etc. Prospective proposers will have an opportunity to submit their ideas, and information about the meetings and process will be made available to the community. Likewise, information about the different proposing organizations and technical assistance providers will be made public. The Repurposing Committee will provide aldermen with a baseline approach to community outreach. There will be aldermanic meetings that will provide an opportunity for the Repurposing Committee to assess the extent to which certain themes "bubble up", and determine what is financially viable (meaning, the proposers must provide ideas that are financially feasible). I personally committed to helping get the word out regarding the process and website.
3. The mechanisms that are in place to ensure authentic community voice, including feedback from parents, residents, PAC's, LSC's, NAC's and CAC'
Ms. Harte agrees that it is important to get feedback from various community stakeholders and to ensure authentic voice. She is working with the Repurposing Committee and CPS to see how they can feasibly get input from people on the ground.
4. The mechanisms and processes that are in place for community stakeholders to develop community plans and secure technical assistance 
Ms. Harte reiterated that organizations like the
Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois;
BauerLatoza Studio, an architecture firm with an emphasis on preservation and sustainable design (as an added resource, the firm has launched a Chicago Historic Schools website: http://chicagohistoricschools.wordpress.com/);
Urban Land Institute Chicago and the
Metropolitan Planning Council. I suggested that the list should also include CMAP, who has a Local Technical Assistance Program for communities wishing to engage in a community planning process. CMAP has initiated 126 local projects with local governments, nonprofits, and intergovernmental organizations to address local issues at the intersection of transportation, land use, and housing, including the natural environment, economic growth, and community development. The
application process begins in May. You may find out more about the program here. http://www.cmap.illinois.gov/programs-and-resources/lta/
Ms. Harte was amenable to this suggestion. Since this time, I have also learned that one of the  professors in the University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Urban Planning, is interested in  providing technical assistance through class projects.
5. The timeline and budget for the repurposing activities, including planning and implementation 
Ms. Harte indicated that the Repurposing Committee proposes to re-issue the solicitation for the  buildings by the end of the second or third quarter of this year (between June and September). By this time, they will have had a chance to incorporate the top ideas that the community has articulated. There will be individual solicitations for the 43 buildings, and bids will be evaluated  based on capacity, community benefit to community and financial viability, pursuant to the recommendations outlined in the School Repurposing Report. Properties will be sold to the
highest bidders, pursuant to state law. In the event that proposers don't meet minimal thresholds, then CPS can reject them and move them to the third phase. The Repurposing Committee is still working to see how phase 3 moves forward. There's no budget for the process proceeds from sale will go back into the process.
6. The status of any recent developments concerning the proces
The Repurposing Committee has completed its work, and will be transitioning to a successor committee that will coordinate the implementation. I expressed concern that, before community  pushback, there were no West Siders on the School Repurposing Committee. Alderman Jason Ervin was appointed after most of the work was done. Ms. Harte was open to suggestions of  people from the West Side who could serve on the successor committee. I also suggested that the  process of staffing the successor committee include an objective application process to maximize opportunity for a diverse group of stakeholders, other than "the usual suspects" to participate in decision-making. Developers would also be required to sign community benefit agreements outlining benefits to the community (ie, community centers, local hiring and contracting, etc.) Ms. Harte also committed to ensuring accountability for those agreements, including periodic updates to websites outlining progress towards the goals outlined in the agreements. These agreements would be made in addition to standard redevelopment agreements.
7. Also, will there be an opportunity for community members to go on a walk through of the buildings?
Ms. Harte indicated that each of the 43 or so buildings will be open to the public during set times. There will be significant notice given so that proposers, community residents and other interested parties could participate. The suggestion of getting CAC's, LSC's and PAC's involved was taken under advisement.
North Lawndale CAC Meeting, March 18, 2014

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