INSIDE BOOSTER MAY 6-12, 2015 •
Lincoln Ave. SSA Up for Renewal
STORY AND PHOTOS
BY PATRICK BUTLER
The Lincoln Ave. SSA (Special Service Area) moved a step closer toward a 15-year renewal with an April 28 “stakeholders”
meeting at the Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln Ave.
Members of the SSA Advisory Committee, SSA commissioners, and PLACE Consulting’s Kimberly Bares, who has been working with the SSA groups, made their case for continuing the program, which involves a special property tax assessment on both commercial and residential property owners along the Lincoln Ave. strip be-tween Webster and Diversey avenues.
Bares said that the properties along that corridor include 47.9% commercial, 38% residential, and 14.1% mixed use.
SSA’s offer these programs and services through a localized property tax levy within contiguous areas. The enhanced services and programs typically include – but are not limited to – public way maintenance and beautification; district marketing and ad-vertising; business retention/attraction, spe-cial events and promotional activities; auto and bike transit; security; façade improve-ments; and other commercial and economic development initiatives.
Indeed Lincoln Ave. stakeholders surveyed listed snow removal as the service they most wanted from the SSA, followed by business promotion (banners, decora-tions, advertising), sidewalk cleaning, trash cans, landscaping, façade rebates, sidewalk pressure washing and special events, Bares noted.
Over the past decade, SSA Area 35 Advisory Committee chairman Kenneth Dotson pointed out, the program has provided a variety of services over and above those offered by the city.
“For those of you who are counting, during 2014 crews (paid for by the SSA program) emptied 5,162 trash bins, reported over 50 instances of graffiti, planted and maintained over 120 hanging baskets, weeded and watered 138 street trees, in-stalled garlands, ribbons and wreaths on 97 lights and installed two solar trash compac¬tors at Lincoln and Webster,” Dotson reminded about 30 local residents, property and business owners, and community leaders in attendance.
Proposed new services for 2016, he added, “include enhanced marketing efforts, more façade improvements, and more economic development.”
The proposed $312,000 budget for 2016 will include those enhancements if the SSA program is allowed to continue. Dotson estimated that 62% of the money will come from a special property tax assessment on commercial and mixed use properties in the service area.
According to Mark Roschen, assistant Dept. of Planning and Development commis-sioner, the Lincoln Avenue SSA is one of 53 SSAs around the city, with the nearest ones in Lake View, Lincoln Square, North Center, Old Town and Wicker Park/Bucktown.
Bares said a general public hearing on the SSA renewal will be held this coming fall. After a 60-day waiting period for anyone opposed to continuing the SSA to file an objection, the City Council will vote on the proposal in December.
“As a property owner on Lincoln Ave. for many years, I have seen how the Lincoln Ave. SSA has helped to sustain and keep the corridor clean over the past decade,” Dot¬son said. “The SSA is transparent, locally controlled, and a well-managed mechanism for the community to provide services the city does not.”
Dotson admits he wasn’t an early SSA supporter. “I was opposed to the SSA when it was first instituted in 2005, but came to realize that the services provided by the SSA are necessary to help our businesses remain competitive with those in other neighbor-hoods,” he said.
For those who missed the April 28 meet-ing, another one is set for 8:30 a.m. today at Pizano’s Pizzeria, 2429 N. Lincoln Ave.
Questions about the SSA? Call the Lin-coln Park Chamber of Commerce office at 773-880-5200 of visit online at www.lin-colnavessa.com.
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