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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

1st Ward Residents Can Vote On How To Spend $1 Million For Neighborhood Improvements

The proposed projects range from funding bike lanes to pedestrian safety measures and murals. Residents can vote on their favorites through early December.

A person rides along Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park on Oct. 19.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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WICKER PARK — Residents of the 1st Ward have until Dec. 3 to vote on how $1 million should be spent across the area. 

Residents can vote on 11 potential projects through an online portal run by the University of Illinois Chicago. 

The voting marks the final phase of the 1st Ward office’s latest participatory budgeting process under Ald. Daniel La Spata. He will use the results to allocate “menu money” for ward projects. Usually, aldermen spend menu money at their discretion, but participatory budgeting — where the aldermen let residents decide on what gets funded — has gained popularity in recent years.

“We really want to give people more direct influence over the decisions that I make that are impacting their lives,” La Spata said in August. “The goal is to be really funding a lot of these ideas out of our 2022 menu money.” 

Potential improvements include building a sidewalk along a section of Moorman Street in Wicker Park, adding bike markings on Ohio Street in West Town and installing a mural and new lighting where Western Avenue runs under the Kennedy Expressway in Logan Square. 

One of the more expensive proposals would spend $325,000 to install a protected two-way bike lane on Wood Street from Grand Avenue to Ellen Street. 

“Wood would be changed from two-way to one-way (northbound) to accommodate these bike lanes and preserve residential parking,” the proposal reads. 

Another project would spend $262,000 to repave Cortland Street from Kimball to Central Park avenues and Wolcott Avenue from Milwaukee to Potomac avenues.

“Both of these stretches of pavement are in poor condition and are designated as key bike routes for Chicago,” the proposal said. 

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