Curtailing Family Barbeques

November 24, 2007

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A Chicago alderman wants to ban barbequing in what she calls unsafe public places. Chicago Public Radio's Natalie Moore reports.

Alderman Leslie Hairston says she's seen people use the city medians on south Stony Island to fire up their grills.  Hairston, whose ward includes part of the area, says this type of picnicking is unsafe.

HAIRSTON: Stony Island has a traffic count of excess of sixty thousand cars per day. It's in the middle of the street. It's very, very dangerous.

She says nearby Jackson Park is a more appropriate place for cooking. Her ordinance would ban grilling on street medians anywhere in the city. The measure is in committee.

But Northwestern University sociologist Mary Pattillo says people who barbeque on street medians are just laying claim to their neighborhood public space.

PATTILLO: Barbequing, to me, seems the most innocuous, and not only innocuous, but one that we should celebrate and embrace as opposed to manage and get rid of.

Pattillo says grassy medians such as the one dividing Drexel Boulevard are appropriate gathering places for those who live in apartment buildings and aren't allowed to grill on porches.

I'm Natalie Moore, Chicago Public Radio.