Pick Your Poison


If you care about the future of our community, tonight you have a choice of two meetings that have the potential for significant changes to its character and feel.

The first is a meeting at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church (beginning at 6:30 p.m.), where local clergy members and representatives from “Journeys from PADS to HOPE,” the organization behind the PADS shelter movement, are expected to answer questions about the proposed Park Ridge PADS.  The second is a meeting of the City’s Planning & Zoning Commission (7:30 at City Hall), where the topic will be the expansion of the “R-5 Multi-Family Residential District.”

We here at PublicWatchdog have come to the conclusion that the proponents of these two initiatives have failed to make a compelling case for either. 

*  Regarding the PADS shelter at St. Mary’s, we have seen nothing to convince us that the entire PADS program – at least as it is run by “Journeys from PADS to HOPE” – is successful in reducing homelessness, notwithstanding its good-sized budget and countless hours of volunteer time.  Actually, the network of PADS shelters looks more like a “feeder league” for Journeys’ flagship Hope Center and its programs that seem to attract the real cash – more than three-quarters of a million dollars in 2006, the last year for which financials are reported on the Journeys website. 

Despite the many glowing endorsements and assurances from the PADS proponents, we still see nothing about the St. Mary’s PADS that makes it anything more than a temporary flop-houses intended to attract transient homeless with a variety of mental and substance abuse problems from outside Park Ridge with the promise of a “cot and a hot.”  So we ask again: “Why do we want such a facility in Park Ridge?”  And to those who believe it is their personal “mission” to provide for these non-Park Ridge transient homeless we ask, again: “Why don’t you take them into your own homes?” 

*  The R-5 expansion is, in certain ways, similar to the PADS shelter: While there appears to be only a figurative handful of people clamoring for it, there seems to be no real need for it.  Currently, R-5 multi-family residential (the tallest buildings and highest population density permissible under our zoning code) is limited to the “Central B-4 Uptown Business District” and the areas adjacent to it.  But because the term “Central B-4 Uptown Business District” combines two different areas – with the “B-4” District being the lighter shaded area on the zoning map [pdf] and the “Central Business District” including both that lighter (B-4) area and the darker shaded areas – removing the “B-4 Uptown” language from the description would dramatically increase the potential for R-5 zoning to not only the entire “Central Business District” but also its much larger perimeter of “adjacent” areas. 

But except for certain developers (and the property owners who wish to sell to them) there doesn’t appear to be a grass-roots hue and cry for such structures.  So, like with the PADS shelter, the question that needs to be asked and asked again until a satisfactory answer is offered is: “Why do we want more tall multi-family dwellings in Park Ridge?”

Judy Barclay and her CURRB organization recently have been thumping the tub to have the “adjacent to” language removed from the description.  We agree wholeheartedly, but we wonder how Barclay and CURRB missed this issue when she was a member of the City’s “Ad Hoc Zoning Ordinance Rewrite Committee” that recommended the current language? 

Nevertheless, better late than never.  

2 comments so far

Whatever happened to “Charity begins at home?” If there are residents of Park Ridge who have become homeless, let’s identify them and try to help them. If every community did that with their own homeless, we wouldn’t need these chains of flophouses.

“Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”

But seriously, folks, on a good day a PADS anyplace in Park Ridge sounds half-baked as a whole, and not even that good when it comes to the St. Mary’s neighborhood. If Park Ridge absolutely positively must have a PADS (and I can’t see why that would be), then it should be stuck somewhere on the edge of town – like, say, the old Budget rental car site down on Higgins, conveniently located near the Kennedy and the L.

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