[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ogan Square residents gathered over the weekend for the 53rd annual Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA) Congress at Armitage Baptist Church, 2451 N. Kedzie Ave.
“For 10 years we’ve been talking about having this space for our children and families to enjoy, and on June 6, it’s finally coming,” said Delia Ramirez, director of the Latin United Community Housing Association. She was referring to The 606 park and trail system set to open next month.
Stretching between Ashland Avenue and Ridgeway at Bloomingdale Avenue, the park and trail system will include six ground-level parks, a wheel-friendly event plaza, an observatory, art installations, educational programming, and other amenities that connects the Bucktown, Wicker Park, Logan Square, and Humboldt Park neighborhoods.
“Now, all we want is to be able to stay and enjoy it. We don’t want to see people start to be forced out of the community we love,” said Ramirez. She described a recent morning where she woke up to the sight of seven for-sale signs, all on the same block down the street from her home in the area.
“I sat looking out my window, and I thought, ‘Six months from now, will I even recognize the community I live in?,'” she said.
Indeed, properties around the trail have skyrocketed in value disproportionate to other homes and apartments in the area. For example, a row of six new townhomes built near The 606 over the winter at 3565-3575 W. Wabansia being sold by Dumas & Associates Reality, Inc. start at $389,000.
The square footage for one of these townhomes is 2,100 and each unit has three bedrooms, a garage and private deck. In contrast, the total assessed value of a 62 year old, two-story apartment building that has 1,992 square feet at 3568 W. Wabansia Ave. is $21,763, according to Cook County property records.
Cook County Commissioner Luis Arroyo Jr., State Senator Iris Martinez, Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios and other elected officials were invited by LSNA organizers to speak about these issues on Saturday where over 500 residents and community leaders were in attendance.
The LSNA’s goal is to ensure that the voices of all Logan Square residents are heard. To this end the LSNA announced a new awareness campaign that features banners with photos and stories of people impacted by rising rents and property taxes in Logan Square.
“I live eight houses away from the elevated train track where the 606 will be, and I’m already starting to see some changes. It’s going to attract a lot of people, so how can I be a part of it?,” read one banner with a family picture of Jennifer Velazquez, 20, who is an organizer for LSNA.
At the event Commissioner Arroyo, elected this year to represent Logan Square, was asked if he would support a property tax abatement program for the area around the 606. Arroyo didn’t say yes but did respond that he is “committed to working with the LSNA to make sure everyone hears your voice.”
Meanwhile Berrios asked residents to contact his office to help curb the inflating property values the Logan Square and Humboldt Park areas.
“We’re using computers to reevaluate properties in every neighborhood in the system, because we don’t have the staff to go into each house individually,” Berrios said. “If you think our appraisal is wrong for your property, it’s up to you to appeal it, and we’ll be waiting to work with you.”
To this end Berrios said residents should go cookcountyassessor.com or call 312-443-7550 to learn more about the appeal process and any property tax exemptions homeowners may qualify for.