Wednesday, April 21, 2010

JP's view of the library situation

You read Worlee's posting yesterday. He asked "What do you think?" The following is my response (from JP Paulus).

I will do my best to address each issue. Some of those statements got me hot & bothered, but i'll try to keep calm. I want remind you (and especially myself), there are some issues that Worlee and i agree with (which includes a love for this community, and wanting the best for it). But on this particular issue, Worlee does not speak for the writing staff of the The Sixth Ward blog, at least not myself.

First -- now is the time to discuss and even debate what we want. No final decisions have been made yet. And when they have, it will be too late to fix perceived problems. Once the new building is established, it will be nearly impossible to get a new one for at least 30 years (when Whitney Young was first built). Sorry, Worlee, I am not going to wait until i have grandkids to maximize the resource by home.

As someone who lives two blocks from the facility, I believe I have as much opinion as anyone else as to what should or at least could be at the new site, and not simply be told, go somewhere else. Ms. Dempsey and the commissioners are seeking community input. CAPCC isn't the only group they should here from, but like them or not, they are a part of the community.
We have posted info about the meeting on our blog, for the community to see. If only CAPCC shows up, whose fault is it?

Also, if you lived for any length of time on the North side, you know how valuable land is. You want to maximize the the precious land you have. Opponents to the development at Wilson Yards (which has been a full decade in the making) have raised $50,000 to fight parts of the development they don't like.

The model that the CAPCC advocates is the Bucktown model; Humboldt Park is in the middle of the their renovation (those who actually attended the Whitney Young meeting heard the update on Humboldt Park)

Worlee says current use doesn't justify the resources. But should we not look to the future as well, and anticipate possible future uses & needs? We will see from the census actual stats, but if more young people are in the area (as evidenced by the growing number of day care facilities) wouldn't it be wise to advocate for that?

Now, i do understand budgets and limited resources. So Ms. Dempsey's assertions of staff costs are understandable. I would rather have our library staff focused on programming rather than babysitting. And i guess in some ways, some of us in the community are kind of asking for a mini-regional library. But again, once this building is built, we can't just add on to it. So why not ask for the maximum we can get? Now, after being told no, the community, if they realy want a 2 story building, would need to figure out how to work around it (whether petitions,phone calls, grants, etc.) or else deal with it.

I for one am glad that the issue of a 2 story building was raised at the meeting. Time and again the CAPCC blog has claimed that the new Whitney Young would "most likely to be a Bucktown-Wicker Park replica" (two story). I missed Mary Ellen Drake at the February meeting and didn't attend the March meeting. But now it should be clear to all where Ms. Dempsey and commissioners stand on the issue.

Worlee also made this unsubstantiated statement:

These are the facts as well as several former CPL employees who are also Chatham
residents have voiced their disapproval because of the incompetence of the
current staff and safety issues.

My view is that the library staff is not incompetant, as Worlee asserts with anonymous "sources" (i'd love for Zack to do a video with their claims). I have been there at 3pm, when school lets out. Yes, it gets crazy. What's needed are more youth programs (from nonprofits, churches, etc.) with outreach workers in the area at that time. The library is not an after school daycare program, and they simply don't have the staff to address the issues those students are bringing.

I believe the Whitney Young library is doing the best they can with the limited resources they have. I know they also do events for younger kids, which my 5 year old daughter has benefited from over the years. Ms. Andrew, in particular (in my experience), has shown a lot of love for our children.

Insulting the Whitney Young library staff is not going to help us get the most resources we can. Going to meetings, and making our thoughts known will help.

CAPCC is not the cause of the delay of the library. The library can't move forward until they have secured ownership of the laundromat. If they can't get it, then they might have to go with a two story facility anyway.

So right now..this is the time for community input, especially when the Facilities Committee held their last meeting at the very site that we're debating.

Like i said, if we have to settle for a 1 story facility, that's fine with me. But if we can get the most for our space, why not ask? At least we have a definite answer to the CAPCC's many blog posts, and the conversation there should be moving forward.

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