Last Harvest

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Like many of the CHA developments, the Flannery Homes senior development, home of Residents’ Journal, is undergoing a significant redevelopment. The mixed-income development of Orchard Park continues and the construction of a new community center is underway. Writer Alan Minerbrook surveyed his neighbors to determine their opinions of these changes.

The tenant garden of the Flannery Homes was taken down August 15 to make room for a new community center as well as a garden that will feature underground sprinklers and private garden spaces. Several tenants, if the project comes off the way the management has planned, say they will be happy about it. Here are the viewpoints of a few tenants and a clerk of the building at 1507 N. Clybourn.

Elizabeth Robinson, a 14-year resident of Apt. #1307.

“I raised vegetables and flowers every year since the year my husband and I moved into 1507 N. Clybourn. I was one of the original people to clear the land and plant. I planted tomatoes, bell peppers, celery, collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, string beans, butter beans, onions and broccoli, Swiss chard, asparagus and cantaloupe, watermelons, zucchini and squash, corn, crowder peas, black-eyed peas, rutabagas, hot peppers and banana peppers, kale, okra and pumpkins, radishes and flowers. I raised sunflowers, perennials marigolds, miniature roses and lilies. Every year was better and better. On August 1st, management came and told me to empty the entire garden by August 15th. I had to rush to try to get as much of my produce out of the garden as I could. I still lost quite a bit of stuff because it is the prime time for produce and everything was just starting to produce. I was the winner of 13 blue ribbons last year. Mr. Rodriguez, the construction superintendent, said they wanted to get an early start to install automatic sprinklers and drains and put in fresh black top-soil. He said we will have individual spaces with our names on each separate garden space. Last year there were 10 of us with gardens, but I don’t know how many will be back.
“I am hoping the new gardens work out like they say it will.”

Cheryl Strickland, CHA Development clerk, in charge of the two senior citizen buildings at 1507 and 1531 N. Clybourn Ave. since August 19, 1996. She replaced Ms. Angeline Bay Lucas, who resigned from the CHA to begin a better job with the Cook County Housing Authority.

“The Building Development Plan, now proceeding under exterior construction, will greatly enhance the two residences. The buildings will have added beauty. The buildings will have much tighter security than before, restricting entry to the buildings and parking areas only to residents and their guests. Security was very hard to maintain in the past but when construction is finished, the building and parking areas will be very secure.
“Recently several tenants who failed to pay their rent on their units over a period of time have been evicted from their units. This procedure has been and will be consistently enforced.”

Security Officer Hayes, WHO WAS ON DUTY AT THE TIME OF THIS INTERVIEW:

“I am not allowed to make any comment whatsoever while on duty.”

James Arnold Apt. #308:
“I have resided here 10 years. I think the construction plans for the outside of the buildings are good. I think that if the final construction results stick close to the model on exhibit in the Recreation Room, the improvements will be good. I like the plans for the garden area in the rear. I also like the parking area. I especially like the idea of having the gym on the property because it will give us a chance to come down out of our apartments and have some place to go.”

Dorothy Simms Apt. #1305
“I am very, very skeptical about these so-called improvements. For example, I remember being told Orchard Park was being built for eventual tenant rental. I was told the units were for rental to senior families with children. It has turned out to be just the opposite. The units are restricted and for sale at big money prices. I’m going to wait and see what changes are going to eventually benefit we senior residents. Or are we being led down the garden path again for the benefits of higher-ups.”

Jerry Stokes Apt #905
“I’m a tenant here for 4 years. I’m just returning from Grant Hospital where I have had a pacemaker put in. I feel better now. I’m going to wait until the outside construction is finished to make a judgment.”

Antoinette Walker Apt. #1503
“I have been a tenant here for one year. I notice the building is getting much cleaner. They have hired four more janitors. The hallways are getting cleaner. I used to have to get my husband to change light bulbs in the hallway. I even used my own light bulbs! I’m not going to do that any more!”

Inell Maxwell Apt. #909 (my next door neighbor)
“I have been a tenant here for 16 months. The outside construction, when it’s finished, will be nice. They must have a way to screen young people out! The young people from other buildings have been coming in and taking advantage of senior citizens here in the building. I have come upstairs late at night and found young people sitting on the balcony porch next to my apartment drinking wine. I have had to chase them away. I just hope security will be kept up so that only tenants of this building can enter.”

Dorothy Brown Apt.#903 since 1990.
“In my opinion, when the outside construction is finished, it will be beautiful.”

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