I attended last month’s Special Service Area or SSA meeting for the Wicker Park/Bucktown community in which I live. No, I didn’t know what the hell an SSA was either. Luckily, before the meeting started, the committee took a few minutes to explain to me:
Basically it’s a group of volunteer community members, often local business owners, that decides how to spend millions of dollars in property tax money on the main thoroughfares. For more info, click here: https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/dcd/supp_info/special_service_areassaprogram.html
For example, the Wicker Park/Bucktown SSA decides what happens on Western, North, most of Milwaukee, Armitage, Division, Damen – all the big streets. WPB’s SSA is comprised of members including the the Quick Release Bike Shop owner; the owner of Janik’s Cafe; the owner of Norsman Architects; the owner of Radiance Fine Jewelry and and the owner of Store B Vintage. Business owners have particular interest in the maintenance of major streets for obvious reasons. They focus on different aspects, like promoting the arts, transportation, green initiatives and waste, etc. It’s an interesting facet of Chicago politics. They’re in charge of everything from snow removal to holiday decor to advertising for the neighborhood. In fact, at this particular meeting they announced the “Get Off in WPB” ads that now appear at L stops and on CTA train cars.
I was the only member of the general public to attend this particular meeting, even though they offered free pizza from Knead. Some quality pies coming out of that little place on North Avenue at the Six Corners. I tried the sausage, but the margherita looked fabulous, too.
This meeting also set a course for preserving the historic Wicker Park Gurgoyle Fountain; the installation of free bike pumps throughout the neighborhood (pic below); a contribution to help pay for a mural on the back wall of the Chicago Public Library (pic below) on Milwaukee and much more. For one brief moment – even though I just sat there for the most part – I felt like a politically active member of my community.