OAKWOOD — People attending this year’s Silver Room Block Party may want to take the bus.
The team behind the major South Side festival — including Silver Room owner Eric Williams — is urging the 15,000 expected attendees to use public transit to tamp down on traffic and parking issues so neighbors aren’t as affected, organizers said at a Wednesday night meeting with neighbors and Ald. Sophia King (4th).
The popular festival is set to run July 16-17 at Oakwood Beach; it’s moving to that spot to accommodate a larger crowd after years in downtown Hyde Park. But neighbors have already been frustrated with congestion and noise issues from a nearby pedestrian bridge, so organizers sought to win them over by explaining how they’ll try to prevent traffic, trash and safety issues from spilling over onto residential blocks.
Organizers will reach out to the CTA and Uber so fewer people drive in, but they’ll also attempt to secure nearby parking, including the McCormick Place lot on 31st Street and two others near Woodson Elementary and Monumental Baptist Church, said Tiffany Judkins, who serves as the team’s traffic and parking coordinator.
The team is working on a venue map to share with attendees, and five to eight shuttle buses from various points — including Bronzeville Winery — will bring people to Oakwood Beach. Attendees will enter the festival just north of the 39th Street entrance.
There may be incentives for people who bike to the event, as well, with organizers exploring the possibility of offering a free item to those who go car-free that weekend. Bike parking will be available near the venue, Pickett said.
A total of 150 security officers will man the Block Party, with a team guarding the venue overnight. That number may increase, depending on the final number of attendees, which will be capped at 20,000, Judkins said. She said they’ll reach out to the Police Department and the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications for additional resources.
Temporary closure of the 41st Street pedestrian bridge may also be on the table, though organizers are concerned it will be disruptive to residents who aren’t attending the festival. Still, security will be posted at the bridge entrance, Judkins said.
As with past festivals, volunteers will assist with ushering people through designated exits to discourage loitering in front of people’s homes. Two security patrols will help with those efforts.
Festival cleanup with be handled through a maintenance company the organizers have contracted to pick up trash inside the venue and nearby residential blocks. People leaving the Block Party will be urged to finish eating and drinking before exiting to keep trash out of residential areas, said co-organizer Kenneth Pickett.
De’Avlin Olguin, who lives near the venue, said he thought the meeting was productive, but he still has concerns about safety and parking. Olguin and his neighbors have asked King for help to ease congestion and other nuisances the summer brings, including groups of bikers who joyride across the pedestrian bridge.
Olguin said he wished the organizers already had commitments from city agencies and had planned to block off streets so only residents could get through.
“We’re excited, but we still have reservations about how the area will be patrolled,” Olguin said. “We’ll wait to see what happens.”
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