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Hundreds March on The 606 Over Gentrification

LSNA March on the 606

Paul Biasco

HUMBOLDT PARK — Hundreds of people marched along The 606 Tuesday night in a protest against gentrification.

The march was organized to draw attention to the rising cost of living along the relatively new trail, which has become a key selling point for nearby homes.

There was a large turnout of Chicago Teachers Union members at the rally, which was part of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association's annual Congress.

The group asked six aldermen from the area to commit to developing two new ordinances: One to create a property tax rebate and one to create a teardown fee in the area near The 606. All six said they would support both measures

Both would be designed to make it easier for families to stay in the neighborhoods — specifically those on the western end of the trail such as Logan Square, Humboldt Park and West Humboldt Park — despite rising rents and property taxes.

Irene Jackson, a librarian at Funston Elementary, joined many neighborhood residents on the march, although she doesn't live near the elevated trail.

"That's how we got the things we have," Jackson said when asked about her reason for marching. "We need to march. We need a voice."

Jackson said the lack of action on the CPS budget was a major reason she wanted to join in with fellow teachers.

"Patience doesn't seem to be working," she said.

The march along the trail lasted for five blocks and resulted in a major traffic jam at Humboldt Boulevard for bikers and joggers.

There was a heavy police presence during the march as well as security guards who roped off half of the trail to make room for trail users along most of the route.

Rich Mullen, a 71-year-old who grew up in Logan Square, said he joined the march in hopes of bringing the neighborhood together.

Mullen, who now lives in Avondale, said he remembers multiple demographic changes over the decades he's lived in the neighborhood, but it has been becoming more and more expensive lately.

"I think the trend is following the Blue Line," he said.

State Sen. Omar Aquino, the Democratic nominee for the state's 2nd Senate district joined the local aldermen at the meeting and participated in the march.

Aquino, who is of Puerto Rican descent, said his family first moved to West Town in the 1950s and that gentrification of neighborhoods is nothing new, noting Lincoln Park as an example.

"We've been pushed west, west, west for many years," Aquino said.

Aquino said he hopes the commitments that were made during the meeting come to fruition.

"We were asked to make certain promises and commitments and I want to make sure thy are upheld," he said.

The 606 Pilot District Teardown Fee Ordinance would force developers to pay a higher demolition fee in a specific zone around the trail.

The tentative boundaries would be from Hirsch, Palmer, Western and Kostner.

The fee to demolish a single family home is being floated at $25,000.

Those fees would be placed in a fund that would be spent in the community for repair grants, rental subsidies, affordable housing development and job creation.

The property tax rebate ordinance would determine eligibility based on family income, not home value, and would include owner-occupied buildings of two to four units.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Omar Aquino was the current senator of the state's 2nd Senate district.

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