Dear Jack,

Speaking on behalf of Lincoln Square’s business community and in response to your recent article “Home Invasion” (Chicago Reader 7-30-99), I can only hope your extended stay here in Lincoln Square will be remembered more for some of the nicer things our neighborhood has had to offer over your concerns for the loss of proper hygiene standards for our area’s “bums.”

I can sympathize with some of your concerns over the future of Lincoln Square as I, like the Old Town School of Folk Music and others, also moved my friendly neighborhood business out of Lincoln Park 15 years ago and never looked back. You can call me an “idiot” too if you like, but I do not share your opinion that we are less of a community now for welcoming the OTS, Sulzer library, Starbucks coffee, a new bank, Michael Cullen’s proposed theater project, and others in to join us. I, as one of those “wrong people” you wrote about, chose from the start to be involved in and a part of that planning process to see that the lessons of Lincoln Park are not lost on those now wishing to invest sweat and equity in Lincoln Square.

You apparently, though, have chosen not to be an active member of any of the Chicago communities you’ve lived in, to be involved with and a part of the solution to common local problems (you know–freedom having a price and all that silly stuff). Instead, once your favorite bar is closed you flee a neighborhood, burning your bridges behind you, afraid of any changes and challenges, all while sniping at those neighbors who choose to stay put and try to make the best of things. (PS: Thanks for all the help, neighbor.)

For the record, I don’t believe Lincoln Square has any fewer (or for that matter a lower quality of) “bums” compared to your early years in Lincoln Square as you so opine. In fact, ever since the city shut down the lower Wacker Drive hobo village, our community has experienced a rather noticeable increase in the numbers of homeless, derelicts, and drifters making a home (and bathroom) out of our plazas, parks, library, bus stops, front doors, and back alleys.

Indeed, our chamber of commerce now fields more complaints than ever over the recent increase in aggressive begging and panhandling, and we see this as a much greater area of concern over your apparent fears of “rich white people.” Jack, as a member of the human race you should show the same “humanity” to your hexed Michael Cullen, your “idiot” neighbors, those “rich white people” and “stupid” suburbanites, “gouging” landlord, “inept construction workers,” “poor” folk musicians, and the money grubbers at that evil folk school as you do for your favorite neighbors, the “bums.”

Jack, the sky is not falling in on Lincoln Square. In fact the future has never been brighter. Why not take a risk, put down some roots, and finally make a commitment to a community after 25 years of renting? Buy yourself a condo or two-flat here in Lincoln Square, join your block club, and enjoy the great American dream of home ownership. I think you’ll enjoy your stay.

Ronald Roenigk


Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce