Edgewater Community Council
History and Accomplishments

The Edgewater Community Council (ECC) was formally incorporated on Jan. 13, 1960.  The organization was formed by a group of religious and community leaders and residents to “promote the welfare of all residents of our community, regardless of their race, color or creed, so that all people in Edgewater may have the opportunity to find health, happiness and security through the democratic way of life.” 

Below is a summary of ECC initiatives, efforts and accomplishments.

Milestones in the History of the Edgewater Community Council
(not set forth with any priority)

Community Area 77:  In 1980, through ECC efforts, Edgewater was separated from Uptown and reestablished as a distinct community area (#77) in the City of Chicago.

Chicago Public Library Edgewater Branch:  Identified as ECC’s first major civic investment, the Edgewater branch of the Chicago Public Library was opened in April 1973 on the northwest corner of Broadway and Elmdale.

Operation Winthrop-Kenmore: This partnership with ECC, the Chicago Department of Housing and Community Investment Corporation was launched in 1980 and saw the rehabilitation of 160 buildings (16 vacant) with 5,200 units at a total investment of $75 million.  ECC’s second major civic investment, it remains a paradigm citywide.

Broadway Armory:  As its third major civic investment, ECC spearheaded a drive to transfer occupancy of the Broadway Armory from the Illinois National Guard to the Chicago Park District in 1985.  Eleven years later, ECC amassed over 22,000 signatures and successfully averted a State of Illinois plan to sell and convert the Armory to a commercially operated facility.  It now serves as one of the city’s largest indoor park and recreational facilities.

Care for Real:  ECC’s oldest program, a food and clothing pantry, was opened in 1970 and continues to provide essentials to the neediest in the community.  It long has been considered the “conscience of Edgewater.”

Bryn Mawr Historic District:  At the behest of ECC and other organizations, in July 1996 the U.S. Department of Interior designated a national historic district on Bryn Mawr avenue from Broadway to the lake front.

Bryn Mawr TIF District:  Tax increment financing on Bryn Mawr and Broadway funded these major projects, among others:  redevelopment of two historic hotels (Bryn Mawr and Belle Shore), renovation of the “old Walgreen’s building” and rehabilitation of the Chicago Transit Authority station and other commercial storefronts.

Berger Park and North Lakeside Cultural Center:  These two lakefront mansions at 6205 and 6219 N. Sheridan were salvaged and turned into public facilities operated by the Chicago Park District in 1986 and 1988.  The 6219 building is the home of the North Lakeside Cultural Center, an organization fostered by ECC.

Operation Ridge:  This initiative tackled the sale of mismanaged and crime-plagued buildings and the upgrading of housing stock and living conditions in an area that stretches along Ridge from Broadway to Clark.

GRIP:  The acronym for Greening Ridge Improvement Project is an annual undertaking that beautifies the parkways on Ridge between Broadway and Clark and the Edgewater Garden, the green space at Ridge, Hollywood and Magnolia. 

Senn Park Master Plan:  Led by ECC, 20 community groups reached consensus and developed a master plan for parkland that abuts Senn High School.  It included the City’s acquisition of property at the northeast corner of Ridge and Clark and expansion of Chicago Park District land and facilities.

Edgewater Beautiful/Edgewater Environmental Sustainability Project:  Edgewater Beautiful has long been a major ECC committee.  It organized Edgewater’s first Earth Day, initiated assorted projects to beautify neighborhoods and street corners, as well as clean and greening volunteer days.  It's mission evolved and expanded as it created a sister committee (EESP) that has devised an environmental plan for Edgewater.  EESP has served as the catalyst for newly implemented environmental and sustainability changes within our neighborhoods, as well as creating a blueprint for the future.   For more information go to www.edgewater2020.org

Edgewater’s Public Schools:  To ameliorate severely overcrowded conditions, ECC’s Education Committee brokered additions for Goudy, Hayt, Peirce and Swift Schools.

Granville and Thorndale:  ECC mounted a successful vote dry of two problem businesses on Granville at Winthrop and petitioned Loyola University to establish a security outpost on the 1100 block.  ECC was among organizations reactivating the Thorndale Action Task Force, an initiative aimed a reducing crime-related activities on the troubled 1100 block of Thorndale.

Community Policing:  With the Chicago Police Department in 1993, ECC pioneered in CAPS (Community Alternative Policing Strategies) in the CPD’s 24th District (Beat 2433).

Target Populations:  ECC attends to the needs of refugees through the Balkan Outreach Program, seniors through Team Edgewater and at-risk youngsters through a Youth Outreach Program.

Property Tax Appeals:  ECC has advocated for triennial group property tax appeals through the Cook County Assessors Office and Board of Appeals since 2003.  Nearly 2,000 Edgewater property owners have seen reductions in assessments and taxes to date.

Edgewater Housing Stock:  From its formation, ECC has targeted problem properties throughout Edgewater by requesting Department of Building inspections and subsequent compliance/enforcement action in the Department of Administrative Hearings and/or Housing Court.

Community Planning/Development:  For nearly all of its 50 years of operation, ECC has been a strong community voice in planning and development decisions that affect the community it represents.  Its Planning/Development Committee has conducted countless meetings on proposals that require zoning restrictions, easements and/or appeals.

Edgewater’s Lake Front:  Monitoring pollution and shoreline protection have dominated ECC’s efforts involving its magnificent eastern boundary. Operation Lake Watch saw the ongoing clean-up of contaminated waters and Edgewater’s Lake Front.  ECC has been an interested monitor of the Friends of the Parks "Next Four Miles" series of neighborhood participatory design charette meetings that created a number of innovative alternatives to the development of Edgewater’s portion of Lake Michigan.

  © 2014 Edgewater Community Council

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