Recently, a childcare center in the 40th Ward brought to my attention that the loading zone they pay for was often taken by individuals utilizing other businesses, and thus creating a situation where parents had to park across the street or far away from the daycare with their young children. Obviously, this is an inconvenience for parents with young children, but more importantly, it also creates a safety issue when children may then have to cross a busy road. Alderman Margaret Laurino and I introduced an ordinance at City Council that will allow daycare centers and schools to have exclusive loading zones for pickup and drop-off of children. Allowing schools or daycares to have exclusive use of loading zones will hopefully help to alleviate this issue. While one daycare brought this to my attention, we realize that this happens all over the City. In addition to daycare centers, this ordinance would potentially speak to all schools.
While this is a small challenge faced by one of our daycares and some of our parents in the 40th Ward, it started a larger conversation about ways that we can help to make it a little easier for parents of young children. Chicago needs young families to settle here for the continued success of the City. Throughout my tenure on the City Council, I have made education and the schools in the Ward a primary focus. I am very proud that we have some of the best schools in the City in our Ward. That, along with the fact that the 40th Ward is one of the safest communities in the City, makes our neighborhoods very attractive to young families. That being said, there is always more work to do with safety and the resources for our schools. Additionally, there are other ways that we can make the 40th Ward an even better place for families.
In the coming months, I will be soliciting feedback from families in the 40th Ward about the ways that I can help to make the 40th Ward and the City of Chicago a great place for working parents, and families in general. In addition, each week we will feature a new kid friendly business on our website and in our electronic newsletter so that families can learn about all of the great resources available for them right in the neighborhood.
On Wednesday, July 26, at 7:00 pm, we will host the first of what we hope to be many conversations on this topic at Northside College Prep H.S., located at 5501 N. Kedzie Avenue. Please come out and join us and let us know what makes the 40th Ward a great place for your family, and what else we can do to make it even better.
I hope that you will all join me in this conversation about what we can do to make the 40th Ward and the City of Chicago a great place for families and all of our residents. As a father of five, and grandfather of seven, I am aware of the many challenges that young families face. I raised my children in the 40th Ward and truly believe the City is a great place for kids to grow up. With your help, I want to make it an even better place for families.
Ald. Pat O’Connor