Neighbors Criticize Fullerton "L" Plan


By Jon Hilkevitch and Matthew Walberg

Date of Publication: January 24, 2003
Source: Chicago Tribune


Neighbors and community groups vented frustration at a meeting Thursday night over a proposed redesign of one of the Chicago Transit Authority's busiest rail stations, complaining their concerns about the project have been ignored.

The meeting, focusing on the redesign of the Fullerton Avenue elevated train station in Lincoln Park, was the seventh forum the CTA has held this month to inform communities about the coming rehab of 18 stations as part of the Brown Line reconstruction. Work on the five-year $476 million project is scheduled to start late this year.

The mood of the meeting of about 65 community members at DePaul University in Lincoln Park was contentious, and residents often interrupted the explanations of project manager Alaaeldien Waziry.

"We keep having these meetings and we're not listened to--and you are very flip," Jill Minetz, 54, of the 800 block of West Fullerton Avenue, said to Waziry.

CTA officials said they have held more than 130 public meetings on the Brown Line project.

Discontent centered on plans to raze the university's Gothic-style Hayes-Healy Gymnasium, which is adjacent to the Fullerton station, to make way for the expanded station as well as on concern that the proposed design does not fit the character of the neighborhood.

Bryan Ceja, who attended a community meeting Jan. 8 on the CTA's plans for the Brown Line stations at Diversey Parkway and Wellington Avenue, said he was disappointed to learn the canopies over the platforms would not extend the full length of the station to protect riders from snow and rain.

"The CTA informed us that the canopies would be only four-car-lengths long, even though they are extending the platforms for eight-car trains," Ceja said.

CTA spokeswoman Sheila Gregory said, "Some people told us they don't want a full canopy, that they prefer open space."

"A lot of the recommendations in terms of the way the canopies look and the station design are a direct result of input from the community," said Dorval Carter Jr., CTA executive vice president of management and performance.

Former 43rd Ward Ald. Martin Oberman said the CTA failed to keep its promise to provide several different designs for the community to evaluate. "You didn't present anything other than this big white slab," Oberman said. "The design is much too modern for the character of the neighborhood."

Officials from the CTA and DePaul already have agreed to demolish Hayes-Healy, which is not protected by state preservation laws.

"We are all for the Brown Line being revamped to allow longer trains, but the loss of Hayes-Healy can and should be avoided," said Michael Moran, vice president of Preservation Chicago, a citizens advocacy group. "It's a building a lot of college campuses would love to have, yet DePaul wants to level it and put up a new parking garage."