Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) looks on during a news conference on CPSÕs return to in-person learning at Hawthorne Scholastic Academy in the Lake View neighborhood on March 1, 2021. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

LAKEVIEW — Demand for summer block parties is high this year as the Chicago begins its reopening, but Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) says he’s frustrated by a “lack of leadership” from the city, which hasn’t started approving permits.

“We haven’t gotten any leadership on this issue and it’s frickin’ almost summer,” Tunney said during Thursday’s meeting for the Committee on Special Events, Cultural Affairs and Recreation.

“This needs to happen so that we can manage our neighborhoods,” Tunney said. “The demand is unprecedented and having no answer is not a sufficient answer. It’s almost June 1.”

Tunney told Block Club that his ward, which encompasses most of Lakeview, typically sees 40-50 block parties each summer, and his office is already receiving daily calls from block party organizers looking for permits.

“People have been locked inside all of last year and they’re itching to get out,” Tunney said. “This is about building community in strong neighborhoods, and block parties are essential building blocks of strong communities.”

Because the city has given guidance on larger gatherings like street festivals, outdoor dining and baseball games, Tunney said, it should be able to come up with rules for smaller events like block parties.

The gatherings in Lakeview vary in size, but typically see anywhere from 20 to 100 people, he said, while outdoor gatherings of up to 500 people are allowed in Chicago’s Bridge Phase, which the city entered Friday.

“This is a problem and we need more leadership out of the Health Department and mayor’s office,” Tunney said. “People need to plan their summer events and they’re frustrated with the fact that we can’t give them answers.”

The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.

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