It is appropriate that the Maroon’s front page article about neighborhood safety (“Students Hope to Foster Safer Hyde Park,” 10/24/08) came right on the heels of the Maroon’s October 21 editorial (“Drs. No”). Your article notes that University students are fearful of Hyde Park’s dark and lonely nighttime streets. In the article, students correctly observe that the streets are largely empty of foot traffic because of the absence of anything to do in the neighborhood at night.
It’s right that the Maroon’s “Drs. No” editorial opposes the effort in the 5th ward’s 39th precinct to perpetuate those dark and lonely streets by voting the precinct dry. Specifically, the objective of the precinct’s effort is to block construction of a major hotel, along with its bars and restaurants that would go a long way toward populating the streets at night. Urban hotels without bar sales are not attractive as capital investments.
Aside from its obvious lodging benefits, the hotel’s dining, bar, and conference facilities could transform a long, dark, and empty stretch of Stony Island Avenue between 57th and 59th Streets. It would contribute to pedestrian traffic and therefore to a safer environment.
If the precinct were voted dry, it would stop the hotel development. This would subsequently discourage other Hyde Park development, leaving the streets to remain dark and scary. Then, fingers of blame should point at the promoters of the “dry proposition,” at those who supported it, and at the labor union that bankrolled it.
Richard R. Gill