Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Garfield Ridge Civic May Call for Mayor Lightfoot to Audit City Water Department

Dissatisfied with ‘lead in drinking water’ explanation

By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

Members of the Garfield Ridge Civic League are expected to vote on a resolution calling upon Mayor Lori Lightfoot to investigate the city Water Department.

The vote may be taken at the GRCL’s next meeting, set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 19 in the community room at TCF Bank, Archer and Austin. All Garfield Ridge residents are invited.

The resolution was drafted after the group’s April meeting, where two Chicago Department of Water Management engineers spoke about elevated levels of lead in drinking water.

In the question and answer period that followed their presentation, GRCL President Henry Pukala said their explanation of how DWM actions appear to have caused elevated levels of lead water in thousands of Chicago homes, is nonsense.

“To me, that’s a bunch of hooey,” Pukala said, adding that the GRCL will contact local elected officials to demand more and better action to address what some call an environmental health scandal.

The GRCL may also reach out to other civic groups across the Southwest Side and rally them to action.

Citywide, more than 130,000 homes have voluntarily participated in the Department of Water Management’s MeterSave program since it was launched in 2009. Central to the program is installation of “smart meters” said to save homeowners money.

In recent months, the DWM’s own data has shown that as much as 20 percent of homes with smart meters have elevated levels of lead in their drinking water.

An investigation launched in 2016 appears to indicate that smart meter installation disrupts the protective orthophosphate coating in water pipes, meaning that lead seeps into drinking water. Just about every single-family home in Chicago built before 1986 has lead pipes running from the water main at the street to the home itself.

Lead is a heavy metal that is toxic. It accumulates in the body and causes brain damage and neurological disorders, especially in children. Federal health authorities have long stated that no level of lead is safe.

For more details, call or text Pukala at (773) 562-0071.

# # #

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

'A Great Showing in a Great Community'

Neighbors flood street in anti-crime show of force

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

As many as 100 men, women and children shut down a Garfield Ridge street on June 17, all in name of taking a stand against crime.

“This is a great showing in a great community,” said Garfield
Ridge Neighborhood Watch President Al Cacciottolo as he addressed a crowd in the middle of the 5200 block of South Neenah. “We wanted to bring our meetings to the blocks. We want the bad guys to know that we’re out and we’re here and we’re together, and we’re not going to take any of their B.S.”

The turnout was nearly double a typical GRNW meeting attendance. The site was chosen by the GRNW because the block was the site of a home burglary at about 5:30 a.m. Monday, May 27—and while the residents inside slept, burglars were said to have stolen a TV, a video game console and the homeowner’s vehicle. The vehicle was later recovered.


“We don’t know exactly what happened, but I guarantee you that [the burglars] probably went up and down the block…and tried to get into some of these other houses,” Cacciottolo said. “This normally does not happen a lot in our community. But that’s why we’re all out here tonight—to come together, to stick up for one another, to be more vigilant and watch what’s going on in our community…and if you see something, call 911.”

His comments were echoed by CPD Officer Chris Barajas, a familiar face at GRNW meetings. Barajas briefly talked about catalytic converter thefts in the area and what a challenge it is to catch the thieves, because they work overnight and work quickly.

“If you see anything going on, get a [license] plate [number]…anything you see that’s odd, just call it in (to 911),” Barajas said. “Don’t say you’re wasting our time. Don’t call your friend, call 911. Don’t put it on Facebook…call it in, 911.”

A woman who identified herself as the victim of the May 27 burglary spoke at the meeting. She criticized police for not taking fingerprints off her vehicle after it was recovered in the Englewood (7th) Police District. She also said that after the burglary, someone logged into her stolen video game console. She was able to trace it to the vicinity of 47th and Racine—but she said she was unaware of police following up on it.

Also at the GRNW meeting, a representative from the office of 14th Ward Ald. Edward M. Burke announced that the alderman is taking action to have a surveillance camera installed near 51st and Central in the weeks ahead.

The move is similar to action taken by 23rd Ward Ald. Silvana Tabares who several months ago had a police surveillance camera mounted at 53rd and Harlem.

Both intersections are viewed by some in law enforcement as getaway points used by burglars, vandals, robbers and other criminals fleeing the north end of central and western Garfield Ridge.

“We’ve got to catch these hoodlums as they try to get away from the neighborhood,” Cacciottolo said as he praised the move by Burke.

The GRNW’s next public meeting is set for 7 p.m. Monday, July 15 at Normandy Park, 52nd and Normandy. The meeting will be held outdoors, and there will be a number of folding chairs set up; but those attending are welcome to bring lawn chairs, if they choose.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Park District outdoor pools, water playgrounds are open for the season

News from the Chicago Park District:

The Chicago Park District’s 48 outdoor pools and the only
inland beach at Humboldt Park are officially open for the season. They will remain open through Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 2 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., unless otherwise posted.  

Admission is free to Park District pools, but fees vary for lap swim and instructional classes.
The Chicago Park District has 28 indoor pools and 49 outdoor pools. It also runs swimming programs at 14 Chicago Public School indoor pools that offer community programming. Most of the indoor pools are open year-round. 

Many pools offer learn to swim lessons, which are free of charge for youth ages 6-17. All "learn to swim" programs are taught by certified American Red Cross water safety instructors. "Learn to swim" is a valuable class that teaches a lifesaving skill and promotes fitness and safety. For more information about the "learn to swim" and all available swim lessons, click here.

Swimming programs with nominal fees are also offered for toddlers 36 months to 5 years of age and for adults and seniors. For a full list of aquatics offerings and other Chicago Park District summer programs, click here.

Many of the Park District pools have accessibility features such as ADA stairs, pool lifts and zero-depth entry.  At a few locations with pool lifts, direct wheelchair access to the pool area may still be limited. 

To find a pool near you and for more information about Chicago Park District pools and programs, click here or call (773) 363-2225.

Humboldt Park Beach, Humboldt Park Beach, located at
1440 N. Humboldt Boulevard, will be sampled seven days a week along with the lakefront beaches and information will be reported to the public via Chicago Park District website and social media accounts, beach hotline, and a color-coded flag system at the beaches.

Water quality conditions can change dramatically from day to day, therefore, faster results provide more accurate information for the public and better protection of public health. For updated information about Humboldt Park Beach, please visit

More than 140 water spray features and 13 water playgrounds are also open for the season at parks across the city. For a complete list, visit

For more information about the Chicago Park District, visit or call (312) 742-PLAY.

# # #

Friday, June 14, 2019

Archer Avenue Cruise a Success

Hundreds of car-loving men, women and children turned out
Friday night, June 14 along Archer Avenue in Garfield Ridge for the annual "Archer Cruise Night" auto show sponsored by the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch and the Garfield Ridge Chamber of Commerce.

Plenty of oohs and aahs as men, women and children showed their appreciation for a wide range of cool, classic vehicles: from modern muscle cars to 100-year-old Fords to a 1950s ambulance to a 1960s VW bus to classic motorcycles to a quirky, custom-built wooden car.

Several food trucks were on hand, doing a brisk business, as the success of this annual event picks up steam like a drag racer approaching the flag.

Beyond the obvious fun, the purpose of the event was to show everyone that, given a good reason, people from the neighborhood (and beyond) will come to Archer Avenue and spend money--and that therefore, it can easily be a vibrant commercial strip--and is a good choice for businesses looking for a profitable location.

We at the Southwest Chicago Post were there with a camera and are pleased to share a few images.

A great event in one of Chicago's best neighborhoods!

A tip of our cap to the men and women volunteers who worked the event and helped successfully showcase Garfield Ridge as a fun and cool place!

# # #

Garfield Ridge Run is More Than Fun

About building a stronger and safer community

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

A typical 5K run is held for fitness, fun and often to raise funds for a charity.

But the Garfield Ridge Stars & Stripes 5K Run, set for
Saturday, June 29, is all that and something more.

“This is more than a race—it’s basically a community challenge,” said Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch President Al Cacciottolo, whose crime-fighting organization is a supporter of the effort. “We want as many people as possible to run in the race—but for those of us who are not in shape to run a race like that, we want everyone to step away from the TV, the computer, whatever, and go out to the curbs of the course and cheer on the runners, and get outside and meet each other. A secure neighborhood starts with good people making connections, of getting to know each other and look out for each other.”

A number of the runners will be police officers, firefighters and active-duty military, he added.

“That’s one reason this is being held when it is,” Cacciottolo added. “It’s just before the Fourth of July, and it follows the annual Patriot’s Day Parade (set for Friday, June 28 this year). In a way, it’s an opportunity for our community to step outside and thank those men and women who protect us.”

The race will start and end at Wentworth Park, 57th and Narragansett. The course stretches as far west as Nordica Avenue, as far east as Merrimac, and between 56th and 59th Streets.

Opening horn sounds at 8 a.m., and an awards ceremony in the park at 9:30 will end the morning’s action.

The entire event is a product of Tri-Builders, a non-profit youth triathlon team that since its founding in 2013 has worked to encourage boys and girls to embrace physical fitness, said Juan Ortega, a founder of the group, whose teenage daughters are members of the group.

A catcher and outfielder for Kelly High School back in the 1990s, Ortega today participates in distance running and related events.

This year's event honors the memory of CFD diver
Juan Bucio
Juan Bucio, a Clearing resident who died a hero last year, while trying to save another person's life.

Donations made in honor of Juan Bucio can be made by visiting

All proceeds will go directly to the 100 Club of Chicago.

Participants must be capable of maintaining a 16:00/mile pace for the 5K run. There are multiple categories for adult runners and for youths.

Entry fee is $30 for adults, $20 for children age 12 and younger. Registration and more information can be found at

# # #

Monday, June 10, 2019

St. Sym's Family Fest Coming in July!

Our friends at St. Symphorosa Parish want everyone to know about their 25th Silver Jubilee Family Fest, coming up in July.

Big family fun! Thrilling carnival rides, games of skill and chance, lots of delicious food and thirst-quenching beverages, plus a great lineup of live entertainment.

Mark your calendar now and don't miss it. Round up your family, friends and neighbors and head on over to 62nd and Austin!

# # #