McKinley Park Development Council Member Tony Adams discusses creating a neighborhood development plan on Wednesday, January 17, at the council meeting at the National Latino Education Institute.

Development Council Launches McKinley Park Initiatives at First Meeting

Published January 18, 2018

The McKinley Park Development Council presented itself to the public at its inaugural meeting on Wednesday, January 17, launching a set of initiatives to benefit the McKinley Park neighborhood. Foremost among these is building a neighborhood development plan as part of the council's acceptance into the Local Technical Assistance program of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.

Tony Adams, one of the founding members of the nascent non-profit group, outlined the neighborhood plan as focusing on the Central Manufacturing District, the commercial corridor on 35th Street and transit-oriented development around the 35th Street and Archer El stops. Getting input and feedback from the community will be an essential part of building the plan, Adams said, and the council has opened a steering committee to do so.

Illinois 2nd District State Rep Theresa Mah photoIllinois 2nd District State Rep Theresa Mah speaks at the meeting in support of the council's efforts toward community planning.Other council committees will focus on specific areas of neighborhood development and improvement, said President John Belcik, including business and commercial development, beautification and culture, and events and workshops. The council will also soon offer memberships for residents, institutions and businesses, Belcik said, with officer elections to take place on June 20, 2018.

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Kara Riggio of the Metropolitan Planning Council attended and shared information about Great Rivers Chicago and their initiatives to extend riverfront trails down the South Branch of the Chicago River. Both 2nd District State Representative Theresa Mah and 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas spoke in support of the council's efforts and the importance of development planning, as did Javier Yañez from the office of 7th District County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.

The National Latino Education Institute and Executive Director Elba Aranda-Suh played host to the meeting at its facility, 2011 W. Pershing Rd., accommodating the nearly 50 attendees who comprised a mix of local residents, business owners, neighborhood organization leaders and politicos.

Current council officers Belcik, Samantha Hertel and Anil Acuna helmed the meeting, and founding members Kara Breems, Dayna Calderon and Justin Kerr outlined the first steps each committee would take to initiate itself and its programs.

Signup lists at the meeting let attendees indicate their interest in participating in the council and its committees. Anyone who did not attend the meeting, but who wishes to participate, can sign up at the council's website at, Belcik said.

The council's next meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, February 21, at the McKinley Park field house, 2210 W. Pershing Rd., and will include the kickoff for development of the CMAP neighborhood plan. Hertel noted the council will meet by default on the third Wednesday of the month, with the March meeting set for March 21.

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