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Says Garfield Ridge Needs To Be Involved

As guest speaker at the Garfield Ridge Civic League meeting on Monday, Mary Ann Dybala, president of the Garfield Ridge Chamber of Commerce, discussed everything from the ward remap to graffiti and the local real estate market.

Dybala, a real estate broker, told the group assembled at Kennedy High School that she has lived in Garfield Ridge since 1950, graduating from St. Daniel the Prophet School and Kelly High School and later Northern Illinois University. She has been selling real estate since 1973, and in 1975, opened In Realty, now at 6165 S, Archer Ave.

ÒI still think this is the best neighborhood in the city, and we are community orientated,” she said of the Chamber founded in 1959.

Besides naming four Òbusiness persons of the quarter” each year, she said the Chamber has an annual tradition of honoring a local teacher, police officer and firefighter at the annual November dinner dance at the Mayfield banquet hall.

ÒWe recognize them because they do so much good,” she said. ÒI’m going to say something for the police. They are awesome in this neighborhood. It wasn’t always like that. But it is now,” she added, praising the Chicago Lawn (8th) District for responding to calls and communicating with local groups.

When a man claimed that the crime problem in Chicago is due to the police force being 2,300 short, Dybala said, ÒThat is why we need to be the eyes and ears of the community for them.”

She urged members of the civic group to call 911 when they see anything suspicious, and suggested that anyone wanting to remain anonymous should dial *67 before the number to block their own phone number.

ÒWe want the police to know what is going on,” she said. Dybala informed the group about the recent arrest of a graffiti tagger, who had plagued local businesses, hitting some repeatedly (see Police Reports on page 4).

ÒI blame the parents (for youth crime),” she said. ÒParents don’t know where their children are.”

She said there is a problem with gangs in neighboring Summit, and Garfield Ridge residents must be vigilant in efforts to keep the problem out of the neighborhood.

ÒGangs are targeting 12- and 13-year-old kids to do their dirty work, so they will be charged as juveniles,” she noted.

Although Garfield Ridge is now divided among four wards, following the recent remap, Dybala encouraged residents to get to know their aldermen, and hold them accountable for neighborhood issues.

ÒPeople here don’t complain as much as in other areas of the city. But I have learned, the squeaky wheel gets the oil,” she said.

ÒWe hire people to represent us in City Hall, and then we are not consulted on a lot of things,” Dybala added.

Members of the group were also interested in hearing about the health of the business community, particularly on Archer Avenue, and the price of homes in the neighborhood.

ÒReal estate is picking up here. There is no two ways about it,” she said, asserting that many investors are buying and fixing up foreclosed homes now.

She also informed the group that seven single-family homes are going to be built on the site of Heritage Benevolent and Pleasure Club (formerly Yugoslav Hall) at 5540 S. Narragansett Ave., a neighborhood landmark that was recently razed.

She said several other homes in the 5400 block of South Nashville have also been purchased for upwards of $380,000.

Urging people to shop locally, Dybala noted that the Family Dollar store at 6230 S. Archer Ave is doing a booming business, as well as a nearby shoe/leather repair shop in the neighborhood, and many other small businesses as well.

She advised people getting any repair work on their homes to get three estimates.

Dybala said she was pleased with the Southwest Home Equity Assurance Program, saying it is doing better than she had expected when it began. While a program on the North Side has ceased operation following the economic downturn, the local program is still paying 59 percent of the difference if an enrolled home sells for less than its appraised value.

The program also offers interest-free home improvement loans of up to $10,000 for members.

In other business, Ed Kozak noted that he will be hosting a Route 66 bus trip through the civic association on June 29, taking in the area between Towanda, Ill. and Springfield.

Rick Techman, the Civic League president, also reminded members that the group will have a table at a neighborhood yard sale being held Saturday, April 27 in the Kennedy High School lot, 6325 W. 56th St.

ÒBring a mug or a sweatshirt to sell,” he said, noting that any money raised will be for the group.

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