PART 1 of 3
I had an opportunity to sit down with Alderman Harry Osterman to speak about his tenure so far. We discussed what he felt were key successes in the City and Ward over the past few years, his top priorities going forward, and his take on some of the issues facing Condo Association’s. I was fortunate to be able to sit with him and discuss quite a few details so I am dividing this review of our discussion into those three general topics.
First, we focused on successes and improvements he has contributed to in his role as Alderman. He pointed to 5 primary efforts that have been positive – improved CTA stations and planning, an increase in economic development particularly along Broadway Avenue, improvement of public schools, increased public safety and security, and improved communications with residents and block groups.
Regarding public safety, he acknowledged recent high profile gun violence and mentioned that would be a priority going forward. But he said,”This is a city wide issue, and despite these incidents there has been improved coordination between communities and police.” He is particularly pleased with the results of the increased foot patrols and police presence at key “targeted” locations that have resulted in a marked reduction in crime.
The Alderman seemed particularly proud of economic improvements in the Ward. He cited a net increase of 50 new businesses along the Broadway Avenue corridor of the Ward. He said more work needs to be done in other key locations within the Ward, “And I am working closely with property owners and the City to see what efforts I can promote to further encourage growth like we have seen on Broadway.” He mentioned this is a key priority going forward.
We also discussed work at local schools and improvements in communications with residents and block groups. He said efforts have been especially “challenging” at area schools, and in particular Senn, because of the limited budget. He is “very proud of what has been accomplished with limited resources,” and that it takes a lot of commitment from everyone involved.
He also expressed pride with efforts to improve communications and outreach to community block groups and residents. He cited the Weekly Newsletter that is e-mailed and posted on the 48th Ward web site (http://48thward.org/). He pointed to efforts by himself and his staff to be more visible in the community, participate in neighborhood activities, and encourage “connecting neighbors and working side by side” to help strengthen the ward, open more doors and improve relationships. He asked, “Tim, can you pick up the phone and reach my office?” I said yes and mentioned I never even met his predecessor.
“I am not done…I will run…” for reelection – though he smiled and said that is not an official announcement. He emphasized repeatedly that there is more work to do, including at the City level. “I am really interested in digging into the nuts & bolts in the ward, and focusing…” on this neighborhood. “I live here too and it’s very important to me.”
Next week, I will review priorities he has going forward. Including his continued emphasis on public safety, improving area schools and economic development. We also spent time talking about the City budget and pension program, which as he described has the potential to “eclipse all the other issues we consider priorities.”