Wrigley Field neighbors complain about parking, rats as renovation continues

The sounds form a cacophony of construction – jackhammers’ percussive pelting, the persistent beeping of vehicles in reverse, and buzzsaws shrill screams.

Meanwhile, the sights are not exactly picturesque — the gray concrete trucks, the forklifts transporting their material safely across the bumpy dirt, and, according to some nearby residents, the rats.

That is the scene along Sheffield and Waveland avenues as the Cubs continue their renovation of Wrigley Field, which the team recently announced won’t be complete until the end of May.

A sign outside Murphy’s Bleachers on the corner of Sheffield and Waveland counts down the days until opening day — while underneath it counts down the days until the bleachers will be open again for business.

Residents around Wrigley have adapted to the construction as a way of life, for better or for worse, depending on whom you ask.

“Basically I hate it,” said Meg Styck, who owns a home near the intersection of Kenmore and Waveland.

“It doesn’t really affect our day-to-day at all,” said Nick Ziegler, who lives less than a block away from Wrigley on Sheffield.

Most agree that the renovations could have been planned better and should not be intruding on the season. None were surprised when the Cubs announced the renovations are going to take until at least May 11 to complete.

“I’m sure the Rickettses will say the debates, courts and everything slowed things down but I think they could have put it off for another year to resolve it and not affect the baseball season,” said Craig Doherty, a former Wrigleyville resident who still frequents Murphy’s.

Joe Maddon on renovations at Wrigley Field
New Cubs manager Joe Maddon on renovations at Wrigley Field.
Parking is chief on the list of concerns for those who live in the surrounding neighborhoods. Trying to find a spot has become an adventure since the construction ate up dozens of spots. And some of those who have garages, like Styck does, have to find circuitous routes to park their cars.

“Parking has been ridiculous especially the people that live around the blocks,” Terie Kata, who lives within three blocks of Wrigley on Sheffield. “That’s a ripple effect out and makes it difficult for everybody else.”

Linnea Framnes, who lives on Clifton Avenue, said her friends have trouble finding spots when they come visit, even if the Cubs are allowing residents to park in their lots.

“It’s kind of a mess,” Framnes said. “They give us spots in the green lot, but it’s a bit of a walk.”
One of the biggest problems with the renovations began when the Cubs renovated the green lot near the intersection of Racine Avenue and Grace Street. Shortly after construction there began, Kata said, rats began overrunning her neighborhood. .

“The rats have been running rampant. I’m not kidding you,” Kata said. “There are people in the alley and there are still rats running around and it’s daylight.”

Kata and her neighbors took it upon themselves to get rid of the rats. Kata said she went through 12 packs of rat poison quickly. Thomas Findlay, who lives nearby, said he and another neighbor hired a private exterminator to get rid of the on their properties. While Findlay said he isn’t 100 percent sure the renovations caused the rat problem, the timing is suspect.

“We’ve never experienced anything like what we’ve seen the last 12 months,” Findlay said. “We’ve had rats almost on a daily basis walking all around the neighborhood. In the streets, on the sidewalks, on people’s porches.”

Julian Green, a spokesperson for the Cubs, said the Cubs have worked with the city to curb the issues with rats but have not received any complaints about rats since the fall. Residents who are experiencing problems are encouraged to call the alderman’s office, Green said.

One person who is happy the renovations are dragging is Drew DeMoss, a local resident who also works as a ticket broker. He said he can now charge more for hard-to-sell seats on opening day than he could if the bleacher seats were available.

“People are just going to be interested in see the changes, the renovations,” DeMoss said. “They’re just going to want to see how it’s different.”

But even those who said the renovations haven’t caused any issues are dubious the renovations they will finish when the Cubs say they will.

“The construction part of it, we just want it over with,” DeMoss said. “It’s not really a headache, but we’re ready for it to be finished.”

 

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/ct-spt-0128-wrigley-neighbors-20150129-story.html



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