WBEZ | Arlington Heights http://www.wbez.org/tags/arlington-heights Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Don't believe the height! Why Chicago suburb names flat out lie about their elevation http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/dont-believe-height-why-chicago-suburb-names-flat-out-lie-about-their-elevation <p><p>Picture it. The majesty of Chicago suburbia.</p><p>The ridges of Park Ridge like waves of a tumultuous sea! The grandeur of Arlington Heights and the sweeping sublime of Palos Hills. And beyond, the bold peak of Mount Prospect rises in the distance like Olympus itself!</p><p>Name-wise, the Chicago suburbs sound like the most romantic landscape this side of the Mississippi.</p><p>But if you&rsquo;ve actually set foot in the place, like our questioner John Leahy, you know the terrain is hardly reminiscent of a <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=thomas+cole&amp;espv=2&amp;biw=1777&amp;bih=905&amp;source=lnms&amp;tbm=isch&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=0CAYQ_AUoAWoVChMI2pW5ge_CyAIVRZyACh21NgRr&amp;dpr=0.9" target="_blank">Thomas Cole painting</a>. Feeling the discrepancy between place names and actual geography, John sent us this question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>In notoriously flat Chicago, why do so many suburb names imply elevation?</em></p><p>The irony runs deep.</p><p><a href="http://www.disruptivegeo.com/2015/08/the-flatness-of-u-s-states/" target="_blank">A recent nationwide flatness study</a> suggests Illinois is the second-flattest state in the country (number one being Florida, <a href="http://choices.climatecentral.org/#8/25.933/-80.681?compare=scenarios&amp;carbon-end-yr=2100&amp;scenario-a=unchecked&amp;scenario-b=extreme-cuts" target="_blank">which will be under water pretty soon anyway</a>), but you definitely don&rsquo;t get that impression from the names of Chicago suburbs.</p><p>For real:</p><blockquote><p>Highland Park, Park Ridge, Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect, Prospect Heights, Palos Heights, Chicago Heights, Ford Heights, Barrington Hills, Palos Hills, Rolling Meadows</p></blockquote><p>And before you say: &ldquo;But wait! There is some elevation out in the &lsquo;burbs!&rdquo; Let&rsquo;s make something clear: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/sweet-spot-top-chicago-107897" target="_blank">You&rsquo;re not wrong</a>. Chicago&rsquo;s Loop is at about 500 feet above sea level, and <a href="http://peakbagger.com/map/BigMap.aspx?cy=42.124567&amp;cx=-88.237406&amp;z=13&amp;l=CT&amp;t=P&amp;d=6431&amp;c=0&amp;a=0&amp;sx=-999&amp;sy=-999&amp;cyn=0" target="_blank">the high point of Cook County is in Barrington at 900 feet</a>. That height difference is about 400 feet, and that&rsquo;s spread over 40 miles. If we were talking about any other state in the country (besides Florida) you&rsquo;d barely notice the difference. In other words, in Illinois, the default standards are low for what&rsquo;s considered high.</p><p>Besides, getting muddled in the numbers takes some of the most interesting curiosities out of John&rsquo;s question. Because the answer to why suburbs&rsquo; names involve height involves a melding of a broad cultural trend and a specific psyche present in Chicago-area real-estate marketing. I&rsquo;ll move through three theories, each getting a little closer to sweet home Chicago.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Theory one: Flatness doesn&rsquo;t feel good</span></p><p>Picture the flattest place you can possibly imagine. Maybe it&rsquo;s miles of desert under a hot sun, or it&#39;s a view from a lone sailboat on a windless day. Or maybe it looks more like this:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Cumulus_Clouds_over_Yellow_Prairie2.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="(Wikimedia/Wing-Chi Poon)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><p>Whatever you&rsquo;re picturing, it&rsquo;s likely you&rsquo;re confusing flatness for expanse, according to geographer Josh Campbell, who&rsquo;s studied perceived flatness versus actual flatness.</p><p>&ldquo;I think people associate flatness with that sense of being able to look in 360 degrees and feel wide open,&rdquo; Campbell says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s that feeling of openness.&rdquo;</p><p>Flat is a feeling, he says, a perception that&rsquo;s triggered by the absence of features that would otherwise disrupt the sense of expanse. For disruptors, think: mountains, bluffs, a dense forest of trees or even a visible coastline.</p><p>Campbell believes he has convincing evidence for this cultural trend. When he surveyed people about <a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/03/140314-flattest-states-geography-topography-science/" target="_blank">what they thought the flattest state is</a>, a common answer was Kansas. The correct answer? Florida.<a href="http://isgs.illinois.edu/sites/isgs/files/maps/county-maps/cook-ga.pdf" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/elevation chart.png" style="height: 405px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="There is a bit of elevation in the south and northwest Chicago suburbs. But Illinois is the second-flattest state in the country. (Source: ISGS)" /></a></p><p>That&rsquo;s because Florida has the visual relief of a coastline, he says. Even though Florida is the flattest state in the country, its coastline disrupts the human feeling of endless, repetitive, boring landscape.</p><p>&ldquo;Somehow relief in the terrain seems to be more exciting,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>And that creates a special challenge for the part of the country people feel is the flattest: the prairie states.</p><p>&ldquo;Prairie landscapes don&rsquo;t seem to hold the attention of people like white sand beaches and rocky mountains do,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Campbell says if people feel prairie states are the most boring places on Earth, how do you convince people to move there, or travel there? Especially when it comes to Illinois, <a href="http://www.statesymbolsusa.org/symbol-official-item/illinois/state-nickname/prairie-state" target="_blank"><em>the </em>Prairie State</a>?</p><p>He&rsquo;s not too surprised to hear about all the height-inspired names of Chicago suburbs. He says names like Arlington Heights and Mount Prospect make sense, in a way.</p><p>&ldquo;I think that&rsquo;s the best evidence I&rsquo;ve seen that people correlate flat with boring,&rdquo; he laughs. &ldquo;You&rsquo;d name these suburbs anything &mdash; you&rsquo;d tell a lie and call it a Mount &mdash; to differentiate it.&rdquo;</p><p>And a &ldquo;Mount&rdquo; just sounds like a more exciting place to be than a field full of cows, no?</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Theory two: Impact of historic scenic imagery</span></p><p>Just look at this painting.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" among="" class="image-original_image" nevada="" sierra="" source:="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/maxresdefault_0.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" the="" title="Albert Bierstadt's 1868 painting, " /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Does this look like flat to you? No.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">In the mid-19th century, there&rsquo;s a broad, cultural awakening of romantic, dramatic landscape, says Chicago historian Ann Durkin Keating. Flatlands, she says, just didn&rsquo;t make the cut.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">For evidence, she points to countless paintings of settlers on horseback traversing mountain ranges, tourists gazing at waterfalls at sunset, or people standing before the bluffs of the Colorado River.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Keating says artists, poets, and writers from the East Coast or from Europe had decided what &ldquo;scenic&rdquo; meant. Midwestern farmers didn&rsquo;t play as much a part in defining the newfound cultural infatuation with scenery, much less creating art depicting it.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">And be honest: The last time you took a road trip, wasn&rsquo;t Kansas the state you slept through?</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Bringing this back to Chicago suburb names, flatness just wasn&rsquo;t fashionable in the 19th century media market. It was unlikely you&rsquo;d want to look &mdash; much less live &mdash; in a place that evoked flatlandia.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><span style="font-size:24px;">Theory three: Local practicality</span></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Keating says in 19th century, Chicago&rsquo;s city center was ridden with filth and contagious diseases like Cholera and Typhoid. Those diseases were often transmitted through contaminated water, and the more low-lying, still water there was around, the easier these diseases could spread.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">In the 1870s, the northwest railroad&rsquo;s commuter line gained popularity and provided an easy, accessible route to the slightly more elevated suburbs. Many wealthy Chicagoans moved out of the city and into the highlands.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Simply put: Higher places meant healthier places, and they were marketed as such.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">There you have it, three theories that led to the oh-so-flat Chicago area having a plethora of names indicating elevation. To recap:</div><blockquote><div class="image-insert-image ">1. Flatness is generally boring (people notice and like topographic features)</div><div class="image-insert-image ">2. Flatness isn&rsquo;t worth looking at (19th century prairies and grain fields weren&rsquo;t scenic, apparently)</div><div class="image-insert-image ">3. Flatness is where the diseases are (screw Typhoid, people, let&rsquo;s stay out of low-lying Chicago)</div></blockquote><div class="image-insert-image ">If you put these trends together, it makes sense that if a Chicago-area town could be anything other than flat, it would aspire to be that other thing. And when it came to marketing and selling land in the early Chicago suburbs, many residents and realtors took that to heart.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><span style="font-size: 24px;">A tale of two neighbors</span></div><p>Chicago suburbs end up with names that imply elevation in these two ways: crowd-sourced rebranding and straight-up marketing.</p><p>In the crowd-sourcing camp, we have Arlington Heights, one of the first &ldquo;successful&rdquo; suburbs that sat along the northwest railroad line out of Chicago. It didn&rsquo;t always have that namesake, however. About 20 miles out of the city, and mostly made up of German farmers and the occasional small business or trading post, the place was actually named Dunton, after founder William Dunton. (Go figure.)</p><p>When William Dunton died in the 1870s, residents saw an opportunity to rebrand.</p><p>&ldquo;The people who are living there are saying, &lsquo;Hey, we don&rsquo;t want to be known as Dunton for rest of time. We want a more progressive name,&rsquo;&rdquo; says Keating. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re looking out and saying &lsquo;What will look good to encourage people to come buy land here and settle here?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>After a bit of soul searching, they came up with (drumroll, please!) Arlington Heights.</p><p>Why the Arlington? Keating says no one knows for sure. But the Heights? It wasn&rsquo;t just inspired by the tiny bit of elevation.</p><p>According to Keating, the name switch allowed the community to change its image &mdash; and its reputation &mdash; &nbsp;from a place people associated with farmland to a place people associated with trade and commerce.</p><p>But what about so many other Chicago villages and towns, the ones that had elevation built into the name from the start?</p><p>For that, consider the case of Mount Prospect, which, unlike Arlington Heights, got an elevated name the first time around, before it was incorporated.</p><p>According to Jean Murphy, vice president of the Mount Prospect Historical Society, realtor Ezra Carpenter Eggleston bought a hunk of land along the railroad between Arlington Heights and Park Ridge in 1871. Hoping to make some money, Eggleston anticipated the place would prosper if he could convince the railroad to build a stop there. He named the place Mount Prospect.</p><p>&ldquo;The &lsquo;Mount&rsquo; part was because of the elevation,&rdquo; Murphy says. &ldquo;And the &lsquo;Prospect&rsquo; was because he thought the town had high prospects for the future.&rdquo;</p><p>But, Eggleston&rsquo;s own high prospects fell flat, and quickly; Eggleston failed to convince the railroad company to build a railroad station in Mount Prospect and the realtor went bankrupt from all the unsold lots. Basically, he abandoned ship (er, Mount). There&rsquo;s little known about him after that.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mtprospecttrain.jpg" style="height: 440px; width: 620px;" title="Mount Prospect Railroad Crossing, circa 1925. Not a mount in sight. (Source: Illinois Digital Archives)" /></div><p>Mount Prospect eventually got its own railroad stop in 1886, but the place didn&rsquo;t boom until after WWII.</p><p>As for the name? Murphy suspects Eggleston was trying to &ldquo;one-up&rdquo; other towns with height-related names. And Mount Prospect does sound higher than, say, Arlington Heights. Still, Murphy says Eggleston deserves some credit.</p><p>&ldquo;Back in 1874 this might have seemed like the highest point. It was all just prairie,&rdquo; Murphy says. &ldquo;But Eggleston was obviously just trying to sell lots.&rdquo;</p><p>And today, the Mount Prospect Historical Society is doing its own bit of Eggleston-inspired marketing.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/prospectshirt.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Embrace the irony with a Mount Prospect Historical Society T-shirt. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Funny, right? The Society&rsquo;s self-aware shirt is a popular high school graduation gift.</div><p><span style="font-size:24px;">&lsquo;A placeless society&rsquo;</span></p><p>By the 1930s, it was possible to live in a Chicago suburb named after another Chicago suburb &mdash; or, actually, two suburbs. Example: Prospect Heights, its name being the offspring of nearby Mount Prospect and Arlington Heights.</p><p>But we can&rsquo;t end this story without taking the example of Ford Heights, just south of the city. Because if you think the whole suburb-name-marketing thing is something of a historic relic, it&rsquo;s actually quite the opposite.</p><p>Ford Heights was originally named East Chicago Heights, a spinoff of its neighbor Chicago Heights. According to Edward Callary, author of <a href="http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/33nxw6km9780252033568.html" target="_blank">Place Names of Illinois</a>, Chicago Heights was named to evoke the association of modern, city lifestyle. (Surprise! Neither Chicago Heights nor Ford Heights are much higher than Chicago&rsquo;s low-lying Loop.)</p><p>Because in 1987, East Chicago Heights decided it needed to rebrand.</p><p>According to <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1987-03-27/news/8701230729_1_ford-heights-park-forest-south-east-chicago-heights" target="_blank">an account in the Chicago Tribune</a>, Village Clerk Edna Mason said: ``We just felt we needed a change in the image. It sounds better. I thought it would be a nice name.``</p><div class="image-insert-image ">The reason? Callary suspects the move was to publicly woo the Ford Motor Co. plant, which sat on an unincorporated piece of land outside of the village boundaries, into annexation. Speaking on the name change, a surprised Ford spokesperson said it was &ldquo;flattering,&rdquo; but that&rsquo;s all.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.dunakin.com/projects/suburb-generator/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/evergreen%20hills.PNG" style="height: 240px; width: 620px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid;" title="Think you know where Evergreen Hills is? It doesn't exist. Click to take the Chicago Suburbs Name Generator for a spin, though. " /></a></div></div><p>One-hundred years ago we named places very differently, Callary says. Places were named after a town founder, or family member, or after something that indicated the place&rsquo;s actual, physical presence in the world. Today, it&rsquo;s more common to name a place after what you want it to be, rather than what&rsquo;s actually there.</p><p>&ldquo;When we talk about community naming it&rsquo;s all image,&rdquo; Callary says. &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s why developers spend time and money into playing into what our hopes and our dreams and our desires are.&rdquo;</p><p>If you buy his argument, here&rsquo;s a question for you: Is it okay to continue naming physical places after feelings?</p><p>Keating, our Chicago historian, says yes. But she also says there&rsquo;s a downside.</p><p>&ldquo;What I see is a loss of roots. We are a mobile society, and being able to move is a critical part of being American,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;These &nbsp;generic names have to do with our caution about real estate investment. &nbsp;And really, it&rsquo;s a middle class American caution. The names of these places can&rsquo;t be so specific that it will be a bar to selling property at the end of all this.&rdquo;</p><p>That lack of specificity, Callary says, suggests people care less and less about having a sense of place at all.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re a placeless society,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;The place we live can be practically anywhere.&rdquo;</p><p>And while placemaking once depended on external realities &mdash; geography, landscape, history &mdash; today, placemaking is a bit more amorphous. It&rsquo;s a hologram of words, feelings and associations. A reality without roots.</p><p>Which leads Callary to conclude, that when it comes to making places &ldquo;it&rsquo;s all in our minds.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/leahy.jpg" style="float: left; height: 400px; width: 300px;" title="Questioner John Leahy scales the heights of Mount Prospect with a newly-acquired mug that indicates otherwise. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /><span style="font-size:24px;">Questioner John &ldquo;It-started-as-a-joke&rdquo; Leahy</span></p><p>John Leahy grew up in Elk Grove Village (<a href="http://www.triblocal.com/elk-grove-village/2012/04/25/elk-herd-longtime-area-residents/" target="_blank">which does actually have an elk population,but one imported in the 1920s</a>). But, he says, whenever he&rsquo;d drive with his family through Chicago&rsquo;s northwest suburbs, it was always an excursion of height jokes.</p><p>&ldquo;My dad has a very dad-like sense of humor,&rdquo; Leahy says, &ldquo;And when we&rsquo;d be heading up north and coming back we&rsquo;d say things like &lsquo;Oh, yeah, just trekked up Mount Prospect, came down Arlington Heights.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>But the joking led to a genuine curiosity about why the names didn&rsquo;t match up with the actual geography. And he suspected it wasn&rsquo;t just a coincidence.</p><p>What&rsquo;s he learned?</p><p>&ldquo;Its pretty clear at a certain point that elevation was a way to signal to people that these communities were out of the swamps, that they were healthy and they have good land,&rdquo; Leahy says. &ldquo;That people could move out there for a better life. And to some degree, it seemed like it worked.&rdquo;</p><p>But, Leahy says, knowing the answer isn&rsquo;t going to spoil the family joke: &ldquo;It&rsquo;s still really ridiculous, but it makes sense now.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Logan Jaffe is a Curious City producer. Follow her on Twitter for more of these kind of shenanigans <a href="http://twitter.com/loganjaffe" target="_blank">@loganjaffe</a>.</em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 16 Oct 2015 15:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/dont-believe-height-why-chicago-suburb-names-flat-out-lie-about-their-elevation Preview of the 33rd annual Japan Day celebration http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-17/preview-33rd-annual-japan-day-celebration-112413 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/sushi Harald Groven.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/215156267&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">Arlington Heights is the home of the largest Japanese market in the Midwest, called Mitsua. And for year&#39;s Mitsua&#39;s parking lot played host to the annual Japan Fest. But as the festival continued to grow, it changed its name, stretched out over two days and now, for its 33rd edition, has moved to Arlington International Racecourse. We wanted to find out more about the festival and the story of the Japanese community in the Northwest suburbs, so we speak with Kimiyo Naka and Dayne Kono to fill us in.</span></p></p> Fri, 17 Jul 2015 12:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-17/preview-33rd-annual-japan-day-celebration-112413 To pay her tuition, undocumented student enters beauty pageant http://www.wbez.org/news/pay-her-tuition-undocumented-student-enters-beauty-pageant-112219 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/SenoritaFiestaDelSolContestants.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children have made gains in recent years. Many are now eligible for work papers and driver&rsquo;s licenses. But when it comes to paying for college, they still face big barriers.</p><p>In Illinois, undocumented students are ineligible for financial aid from either the state or federal government. To get their degrees, they have to get creative. Zulybeidi Maldonado, 22, of Arlington Heights, is trying to pay for her next semester by competing in a Chicago beauty pageant whose prize is $1,500 for college.</p><p>&ldquo;I just need the scholarship to go back to school,&rdquo; said Maldonado, who was born in the Mexican state of Guerrero. &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t do it without a scholarship.&rdquo;</p><p>But MarĂ­a Bucio, an expert on financial aid for undocumented students, has big questions for anyone who thinks a pageant might be the way to pay for an education. &ldquo;How much effort are you putting into this initiative and how much are you going to get out of it?&rdquo; she asked.</p><p>Our story (above) follows Maldonado through months of preparation for the pageant. It turns out she&rsquo;s hoping to get more from the contest than a college scholarship.</p></p> Fri, 19 Jun 2015 08:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/pay-her-tuition-undocumented-student-enters-beauty-pageant-112219 Chicago suburb bans non-traditional pets after inquiries about keeping peacocks and pigs http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-suburb-bans-non-traditional-pets-after-inquiries-about-keeping-peacocks-and-pigs-108311 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Banning peacocks.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span style="line-height: 1.15;">A northwestern Chicago suburb amended an ordinance to keep pigs, peacocks and similar animals out of their backyards.</span></p><p>The Arlington Heights village board rewrote their ban on poultry and livestock to include &ldquo;similar fowls&rdquo; and &ldquo;similar animals&rdquo;. The ordinance addresses recent inquires about keeping a pot-bellied pig and a peacock.</p><p>Mayor Thomas Hayes said the restriction is important in keeping the residential character of the neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;There might be problems with the animals escaping, causing a nuisance with surrounding residences or attracting other varmints or other animals that might be a nuisance as predators,&rdquo; Hayes said.</p><p>The board introduced the ban after residents asked to raise chickens in their backyards earlier this year.</p><p>Any residents who disregard the ban will have the animal impounded.</p><p><em>Lee Jian Chung is a WBEZ arts and culture intern. Follow him @jclee89.</em></p></p> Tue, 06 Aug 2013 17:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-suburb-bans-non-traditional-pets-after-inquiries-about-keeping-peacocks-and-pigs-108311 Arlington Heights library, parks get renovations http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/arlington-heights-library-parks-get-renovations-105121 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/libraryprojector.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Imagine having access to multimedia studios that also serve you coffee, five community centers with indoor and outdoor swimming pools, golf courses, tennis courts and a sailing lake. No, it&rsquo;s not from a new private club or development project, it&rsquo;s all public and within a few miles of your home. That&rsquo;s what it&#39;s like to be an Arlington Heights resident.</p><p>While much of the village&rsquo;s public space seems to be filled with commercial strip malls and retail giants, area residents count on a number of public services and amenities that would amaze most Chicagoans.</p><p><strong>The Arlington Heights Memorial Library</strong></p><p>We hoped to speak with a librarian that would point us to other interesting locations in the community, but never imagined the library itself would be a wonder.&nbsp;</p><p>The Arlington Heights library was first born at a resident&rsquo;s home and the current facility was built in 1968. Since then, it&#39;s become a key facility for local residents. The library has been remodeled twice since, but it&rsquo;s now going through a major reorganization of internal space.</p><p>&ldquo;We really did need to do some things that reflected the way that people are using the library today,&rdquo; said Jason Kuhl, executive director of the Arlington Heights Memorial Library.</p><p>Today, this five star library is being used as a gathering spot for the community much more than in the past, Kuhl said.</p><p>The renovation includes an area called &ldquo;Market Place&rdquo; with newer books on display and a coffee vending machine; an expansion of conference rooms; technology classes; a lounging area with a fire place; a close faximile of an Apple store Genius Bar for helping people with their iPads or other computer devices and multimedia studios.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8214/8409017270_b0b457a36c_n.jpg" style="height: 224px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p>According to Kuhl, the library sees about 2,500 people per day. Last year, he said, the library had 900,000 visitors.</p><p>The $2.8 million project is funded from years of savings and the contributions of its local non-profit arm Friends of the Library. &nbsp;</p><p>Aside from monitoring expenses, the renovation didn&rsquo;t require any tax increases or referendums, said Kuhl.</p><p>But while the library seems to be managing its growth and success well, the Arlington Heights Park District is finding it a bit harder to manage the demands of its own community centers.</p><p><strong>Many parks to choose from, only two can be remodeled &hellip;.for now</strong></p><p>With five community centers, six pools, and 715 acres of land, park district executive director Steve Scholten said, there is a lot to manage. Unlike some neighboring suburbs, Arlington Heights has parks in each of its five major neighborhoods instead of one central facility.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8511/8407190226_0a3db2fcd4_n.jpg" style="height: 300px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p>Two years ago, the district got a $2.5 million grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to expand a facility on the far north end of the suburb- Camelot Park.&nbsp; The grant was contingent on local funds matching the $2.5 million award, so the parks tried to raise $48 million through a ballot initiative.</p><p>That measure was rejected by voters last March, as well as a revamped attempt for $39 million in November. Had these passed, the district could have renovated many of the facilities in the district, including three parks that all opened in 1969 (one year after the library&#39;s current building).</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5234/8411248833_5075d247d5_n.jpg" style="height: 300px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="The Olympic Indoor Swim Center (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p>This put the park district in an interesting place. Some on the board reportedly wanted to pursue using the grant money on a more centrally located park&ndash; specifically the Olympic indoor swim center. Eventually they determined the grant couldn&#39;t be tranfered to a different project.</p><p>On Tuesday, the Arlington park district board of commissioners approved moving ahead with the expansion and renovation of the Camelot and Frontier community centers after months of debate.</p><p>&ldquo;The project budget is $5.83 million and we&rsquo;ll be looking for $3.33 million of funding from fund balances and non-referendum bonding sources,&rdquo; Scholten said. &ldquo;We are now back on track doing one building at a time and with the funding, that is the next logical step.&rdquo;</p><p>So the park district had to scale back their renovation plans while the library is creating a dream facility. But why do two recreation districts in the same town have such different funding situations?</p><p>Park district officials point out the neighborhood model of the park district versus the centralized model of the library. Like the Chicago Park District, Arlington Heights positions parks throughout its residential neighborhoods instead of one or two central facilities. Due to the long and narrow shape of the town, it can be arduous to travel from one end to the other, especially at rush hour. Scholten says planners recognized this in the 1960s and defined five geographic neighborhoods that each include a larger park with a community center and outdoor pool.</p><p>The best usage figures available show around 500,000 people used all park district facilities last year (though their two tennis clubs don&#39;t keep daily visitor records). The library, on the other hand, has only one central location and a bookmobile (but also counted 900,000 visitors last year).</p><p>Despite the maintenence complications it presents, Scholten says he wouldn&#39;t have it any other way.</p><p>&quot;The advantage, though, is that the neighborhoods have easy access to all the programs that we offer and all the types of facilities we offer right there in their neighborhood,&quot; Scholten said. &quot;So it&#39;s a walkable, bikeable distance away for most people, and that&#39;s very appreciated.&quot;</p><p>He also says that they haven&#39;t considered moving to a more centralized model because the current set-up is too popular. And it isn&#39;t like the buildings are falling down, they&#39;re just a little small for the amount of programs they&#39;d like to offer.</p><p>&quot;If we can&#39;t renovate and expand them, we&#39;ll just have to do the best job we can making sure we program those spaces wisely and find other community space to meet the demand,&quot; Scholten said, dismissing the possibility of closing any current facilities.</p><p>Aside from indoor gyms, Camelot and Frontier parks may soon offer residents a place to go for walks in the winter.</p><p>&ldquo;Any new gym that we build in Camelot, Frontier&hellip; they will have some sort of walking track for people to use all winter long,&rdquo; said Kevin Keister the facility supervisor at Camelot Park.</p></p> Thu, 24 Jan 2013 09:50:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/arlington-heights-library-parks-get-renovations-105121 Suburban Chicago teachers file intent to strike http://www.wbez.org/news/suburban-chicago-teachers-file-intent-strike-104547 <p><p>WEST CHICAGO, Ill. &mdash; Teachers in a suburban Chicago school district have given notice they could strike as early as Jan. 7.</p><p>The Daily Herald in Arlington Heights <a href="http://bit.ly/U3FwkR" target="_blank">reports</a> teachers in West Chicago Elementary District 33 voted earlier this month to file their intent to strike. The paperwork was filed Friday.</p><p>A union official said teachers had been hopeful they could reach a compromise with the school board over key issues, particularly regarding health insurance premiums. But she said no compromise had been reached as of this week.</p><p>The school board president said the district must cap the amount it pays for health insurance in order to balance the budget.</p><p>The two sides also have disagreed on salary and class sizes.</p><p>Jan. 7 would be students&#39; first day of school following the holiday break.</p></p> Sat, 22 Dec 2012 18:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/suburban-chicago-teachers-file-intent-strike-104547 Christian activist feuds with suburban park district over a nativity scene http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/christian-activist-feuds-suburban-park-district-over-nativity-scene-104049 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/2105928599_347c483aff.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A controversy over a holiday display in a suburb west of Chicago could have a simple resolution: a little paperwork.</p><p>In early November, Christian activist Jim Finnegan offered to donate a large nativity to the Arlington Heights Park District. The town&rsquo;s annual holiday display includes a Christmas tree and dreidels, but Finnegan was not satisfied.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like the difference between Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas,&rdquo; said Finnegan, who lives in Barrington and used to be a resident of Arlington Heights. &ldquo;We stand up for what the true meaning of Christmas is, and that&rsquo;s the birth of Christ.&rdquo;</p><p>In addition to being the only current member of the Illinois Nativity Scene Committee in the western suburbs, Finnegan is a board member at the Illinois Family Institute and a co-founder of a group that advocates against abortion rights in Ireland.</p><p>When the park district said they didn&rsquo;t want Finnegan&rsquo;s nativity, he called up his lawyer, Tom Brejcha of the Thomas More Society. The <a href="https://www.thomasmoresociety.org/about/" target="_blank">Thomas More Society</a> is a Chicago-based law firm that represents people who oppose same-sex marriage and abortion.</p><p>Finnegan and Brejcha are both connected to a group in Springfield that advocated successfully to place a large nativity scene on the state capitol five years ago. In the 1980s, Finnegan was involved in a battle over the nativity scene in Chicago&rsquo;s Daley Plaza that resulted in <a href="http://www.leagle.com/xmlResult.aspx?xmldoc=19882197700FSupp1497_11966.xml&amp;docbase=CSLWAR2-1986-2006" target="_blank">a lawsuit</a>.&nbsp;That nativity scene went up this month without a hitch. Finnegan said the various nativity scenes he has advocated for were paid for by an anonymous donor.</p><p>The pair sent a letter Nov. 20 indicating that Finnegan&rsquo;s first-amendment rights were being violated.</p><p>But Timothy Riordan, the attorney for the Arlington Heights Park District, said Finnegan had simply never filled out an application for a permit. Instead, he asked the district to accept a donation of a nativity they didn&rsquo;t want.</p><p>&ldquo;In our view there&rsquo;s no real controversy,&rdquo; Riordan said.</p><p>He sent Finnegan&rsquo;s lawyer an application for a park use permit on Nov. 26.</p><p>&ldquo;He wanted to donate the nativity scene to the park district,&quot; Riordan said. &quot;The park district indicated it wasn&rsquo;t interested in accepting that donation. The park always had a holiday display and just didn&rsquo;t think it was consistent with the display they&rsquo;d had in the past. If you want to use a park for any purpose, there&rsquo;s a form.&rdquo;</p><p>Finnegan said Tuesday that he plans to apply for a permit to place the nativity in a different part of the same park.</p><p>&ldquo;I trust that the story will have a happy ending,&rdquo; Brejcha said. &ldquo;I congratulate Arlington Heights on having a beautiful park display. It&rsquo;s a positive step that they may be hospitable to the nativity scene after all.&quot;</p></p> Tue, 27 Nov 2012 15:33:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/christian-activist-feuds-suburban-park-district-over-nativity-scene-104049 Broadway's Queen of Hearts returns to her hometown stage http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-08/broadways-queen-hearts-returns-her-hometown-stage-81969 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Karen as queen of hearts.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Actress and singer <a target="_blank" href="http://www.karenmason.com/">Karen Mason</a> came back to Chicago just in the nick of time. She&rsquo;s been wowing crowds in New York, performing in dimly lit cabarets and under the bright lights of Broadway. But Arlington Heights is where Mason grew up and it&rsquo;s in Chicago that she&rsquo;ll host her one-woman-show, <em>Setting New Standards</em>.<br /><br />The run starts tomorrow night at <a target="_blank" href="http://www.davenportspianobar.com/">Davenport&rsquo;s Piano Bar and Cabaret</a> in Wicker Park. To learn more about her solo act, Karen Mason joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>. Karen Mason&rsquo;s one-woman-show, <em>Setting New Standards </em>begins a six-day run Wednesday night at Davenport's in Wicker Park.<br /><br />She&rsquo;ll then return to New York where she&rsquo;ll prepare for her role as the Queen of Hearts in <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wonderlandonbroadway.com/index.html"><em>Wonderland</em></a>.</p></p> Tue, 08 Feb 2011 14:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-08/broadways-queen-hearts-returns-her-hometown-stage-81969