Posts Tagged ‘Mayor Richard M Daley’

Proposed City Ordinance Could Slow Chicago’s Urban Farm Growth

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Proposed City Ordinance Could Slow Chicago’s Urban Farm GrowthAs urban farms and winter greenhouses sprout in vacant lots throughout Chicago, Mayor Richard M. Daley has proposed an ordinance aimed at “nourishing urban agriculture.”  Unfortunately, some urban farmers believe the ordinance – if passed by the Chicago City Council – might negatively impact the expansion of worthwhile projects that provide healthy food to many under-served neighborhoods.  The ordinance, written by the city’s Department of Zoning and Land Use, includes requirements for governing fencing, plot size, processing, landscaping and zoning.  The protocols would apply equally to commercial production farms, non-profit plots and community gardens.

“If this passes, our work would be over,” said Erika Allen of Growing Power, which operates four non-profit gardens and farms in the city.  “We couldn’t do any of our projects.  They’re all over the size limit.  We couldn’t sell produce at our Cabrini-Green farm stand.  And some of our expanded projects would also be affected.”  Ken Dunn, director of the Resource Center,  fears that the proposed ordinance might bring fewer public benefits.  “Rather than the city recognizing the value of temporary use and the possibility of full employment and healthy food everywhere, the new ordinance will delay each project’s startup for at least a year and increase the cost of urban agriculture by 10 times or more,” according to Dunn.

Other urban farmers have no objections to the proposal, and accept the city’s guarantees that the ordinance will be revised to meet farmers’ concerns.  Some will be satisfied just to have a zoning code that recognizes urban farming.  “This ordinance makes (urban farms) permitted uses by right, taking them out of the shadows and saying clearly, yes, urban agriculture and community gardens are an important part of Chicago’s urban fabric,” said Ben Helphand, executive director of NeighborSpace, a non-profit land trust.  “This is a huge step in the right direction.”

“Urban agriculture is another tool to restore productive uses to certain properties and to help get more fresh food into the communities that need them.  It can also foster skill-building and entrepreneurial opportunities, not just for farmers, but also processors, distributors, retailers and other aspects of the local food chain,” Mayor Daley said.   “Urban agriculture has a bright future in Chicago and the zoning recommendations consider the many different needs of all our communities.”

Will Mayor Daley’s Successor Be Hit With Economic Reality When Contemplating Landmark Public Improvements?

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Will Mayor Daley’s Successor Be Hit With Economic Reality When Contemplating Landmark Public Improvements?As Chicago’s longest serving mayor leaves his post in May of 2011, Richard M. Daley leaves a legacy that includes the iconic Bean in Millennium Park to the flower-filled planters that ornament 85 miles of the city’s streets.  Whoever fills his post will find that budget shortfalls resulting from the Great Recession will collide with reality; the bottom line is that it will be difficult for whoever succeeds Mayor Daley to extend his vision to beautify Chicago.

Writing in the Chicago Tribune, architectural columnist Blair Kamin says that “This was a mayor with a passion to build.  By combining the roles of chief politician and chief planner, Daley became the ultimate shaper of Chicago’s cityscape.  There was no denying his authority over the cityscape — just as there is no denying the deep anxiety his departure has spawned among the city’s architects and builders.  Chicago, they worry, will go from being a city in overdrive to a city on hold.”

“I hope the intensity remains,” said Chicago developer Dan McCaffery, who is planning to turn the 580-acre former U.S. Steel plant on the southeast lakefront into a mixed-use community. “People in City Hall knew that when the mayor had endorsed something, it was aggressively pursued. You could feel the difference.  It was palpable.”  “Any new mayor has got to realize that being a green city has become a part of Chicago as much as hot dogs,” said Ben Helphand, president of the Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail, which is pushing to develop an elevated park, nearly three miles long, on a long-disused railroad spur on the city’s Northwest Side.

A 2010 survey conducted by the Trust for Public Land revealed that Chicago has a mere 4.2 acres of parkland per every 1,000 residents, according to Erma Tranter, president of the advocacy group Friends of the Parks.  “We do not have sufficient park space for a healthy community,” Tranter said.  “It’s an absolutely critical issue in neighborhoods where children don’t have places to play.  That correlates to obesity, health problems and higher costs for future health issues.  There are children who are bombarded with all these electronic games.  They don’t have land anywhere near for them to go to.”

“Daley’s done a great job and he led the city very strongly. But if we’re going to move where we need to be, we need to engage the community in a different way,” said Peter Nicholson, executive director of the Foresight Design Initiative, a nonprofit devoted to sustainability issues. “It can’t be command and control.”

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley To Receive Legacy Award for His Sustainable City

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley to be honored with legacy award that bears his name. Who is the recipient of the inaugural Mayor Richard M. Daley Legacy Award for Global Leadership in Creating Sustainable Cities?  It’s none other than retiring Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley himself.

Writing in the Chicago Tribune, architecture critic Blair Kamin said “Chicago’s lame-duck mayor, famous for his green thumb and his iron fist, will receive the award at the annual Greenbuild conference in Chicago this November, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced.”

The Greenbuild Conference & Expo will be held in Chicago at McCormick Place West November 17 – 19.  Roger Platt, Senior Vice President of Global Policy and Law for the USGBC, said “USGBC is incredibly honored to be part of Mayor Daley’s legacy as a world leader in demonstrating how a nurturing and sustainable city can be the highest service to a community.  This award is in recognition of the Mayor’s visionary and planet-changing leadership that has created the amazing legacy of a green city.  We are looking forward to bringing our Greenbuild conference back to one of the world’s most sustainable cities.”

Chicago holds the honor of being one of the first cities in the United States to adopt LEED certification for its public buildings.  Additionally, the city boasts the largest number of LEED-certified buildings in the nation.  “During Daley’s 21-year reign as mayor, according to city officials, Chicago has planted more than 600,000 trees, constructed more than 85 miles of landscaped medians and built more than seven million SF of planted roofs – more than any other city in America,” Kamin said.

City of Chicago Issues Green Office Challenge

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Green Office Challenge did the same as taking 10,000 cars off the streets.  Chicago’s initial Green Office Challenge honored 34 property-management firms, companies and buildings in a contest to determine who has accomplished the most in terms of reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Sponsored by Mayor Richard M. Daley, the city’s Department of Environment and the non-profit ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA, the competition is part of the Chicago Climate Action Plan.

The action plan is an effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent less than 1990 levels by 2020.  The built environment is responsible for approximately 70 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, with commercial buildings responsible for nearly 40 percent.  The city is determined to cut energy use by 30 percent in 40 percent of homes and achieve similar reductions in half of commercial and industrial buildings.

The 34 firms and properties cited achieved some remarkable milestones.  For example, they slashed energy use by more than 70 million kilowatt-hours of electricity – that’s equal to 45,000 homes or 125,000 barrels of oil.  More than 54,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide were not sent into the atmosphere, the equivalent of taking 10,000 cars off Chicago streets.  Water use was cut by five percent, and more than 1,200 tons of materials did not end up in landfills.

Richard M. Daley Remade the Face of Chicago – Despite Controversy

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Whether you loved him or hated him, Mayor Richard M. Daley left an indelible mark on Chicago’s landscape.  Richard M. Daley dropped a bombshell on Chicago with his announcement that – after serving as mayor for 21 years, longer than his father Richard J. Daley – he would not seek an unprecedented seventh term.  As citizens and pundits pondered the reasoning behind the decision and political hopefuls immediately started jockeying to be his replacement, the Chicago Tribune‘s architectural critic Blair Kamin wrote that the mayor “changed the face of his city as well as its tired Rust Belt image.”

According to Kamin, Daley “was the Boss and the Builder – a democratically elected king who could remake vast swaths of the city at will.  He ruled with an iron fist and a green thumb, and he often used the power of the former to carry out the agenda of the latter.”  Daley’s legacy includes planting more than 600,000 trees, building more than 85 miles of landscaped medians and building more than 7,000,000 SF of green roofs.  Public construction of schools, police stations and firehouses are designed with energy-saving LEED standards.  “All that greenery was simply the beginning of Daley’s efforts to transform Chicago from a City Functional, where utilitarian concerns were paramount, into a City Beautiful, where quality of life issues carried equal weight,” Kamin wrote.  “Indeed, Daley’s long tenure – and his unchallenged grip on power – allowed him to take urban design risks that other mayors, nervously contemplating the next election, would be too timid to try.”

Other important public works projects carried out by the Daley administration include the de-malling of the State Street bus corridor; the renovation of Navy Pier into a tourist mecca; the construction of Millennium Park over an unsightly rail yard; the creation of the Museum Campus along the lakefront; and the controversial overhaul of Soldier Field – a move that deprived the stadium of its National Historic Landmark status.

“Daley’s style of operating often seemed to come straight from the playbook of Robert Moses, the all-powerful, mid-20th Century New York ‘master builder.’  Moses believed it was better to get things done now and apologize to his critics later,” according to Kamin.  “Yet Daley rarely apologized, earning him a reputation for arrogance as well as boldness.  Outside Chicago, his high-handedness didn’t cost him.  Within the city, it bred deep resentment, particularly when the economy turned sour.”

As someone who arrived in Chicago when Daley came to power, I saw first hand the transformation of our city into a world-class metropolis.  The redevelopment and architectural boldness did much more than re-inscribe our physical environment – it made the city cosmopolitan and multi-cultural, a focus for exciting ideas and a largeness of spirit, which still surprises people who travel here.  Daley leaves a legacy.

Chicago Is Greening its Roofs

Monday, May 17th, 2010

The City of Chicago has more than 500 green roofs, totaling seven million SF.  Ten years after Mayor Richard M. Daley ordered a roof garden planted on top of Chicago’s City Hall, the city has 500 green roofs downtown and scattered throughout its neighborhoods.  According to Department of Environment spokesman Larry Merritt, green roofs cover approximately seven million SF, although that represents less than one-tenth of one percent of Chicago’s 500,000 buildings.

City Hall’s roof garden, for example, has more than 100 plant species, including native prairie grasses.  The Willis Tower is now sporting a partial green roof, located on the 90th floor, that is tied down with steel ropes to protect it against the wind.  One of the city’s few green roofs that is open to the public tops the 555 West Monroe Street building that serves as PepsiCo’s headquarters.  Writing in the Chicago Tribune, Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic Blair Kamin describes PepsiCo’s green roof as having “a swath of grass, tables and chairs, and four twirling wind turbines that are handsome enough to be kinetic sculpture.  This green roof isn’t an energy-saving toupee.  It’s integrated into the daily life of the city and the people.”

On the city’s Far North Side, an organic farm tops the Uncommon Ground restaurant at 1401 West Devon.  According to Kamin, the farm is “totally in sync with the restaurant and its embrace of the ‘locavore’ philosophy of locally produced food.”  Another green roof – visible from the CTA’s Red Line – tops an Aldi supermarket at 4450 North Broadway.  Kamin isn’t so impressed by this green roof, noting “It resembles a postage stamp.  Green roofs, it shows, can comply with the law without adding much beauty to the cityscape.”