Evanston Alderman, Community Call for Transformation of Troublesome Howard St. Store
Evanston Alderman Ann Rainey (8th Ward) led a delegation of community members and Evanston police officers to a City of Chicago’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection community meeting on Thursday, August 23 regarding a troublesome convenience store on the Chicago side of Howard St. The store, Howard-Hoyne Foods located at Hoyne Ave. and Howard St. in Chicago, has been the subject of over 70 combined calls to the Evanston and Chicago Police Departments in the past year.
“The City of Evanston is making great investments on Howard Street, but this particular store is preventing progress,” explained Evanston Alderman Rainey at the meeting. “The City of Evanston has expended a great amount of police and community resources to transform Howard Street, but this store on the Chicago side remains a true blemish. I fear that reform is probably unlikely and that closure might be the only option to improve this section of Howard Street."
The Evanston Police Department has responded to 19 calls in 2012 regarding the convenience store: four drug-related, two resulting in gun-related arrests and some involving outstanding arrest warrants. The Chicago Police Department has responded to 59 calls at the location, many gang- and narcotic-related, resulting in 23 arrests in 2012.
City of Chicago Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Barbara Gressel, who presided over the community meeting, reported that the City of Chicago suspended the store’s business license twice over the past 12 months for illegal sale of cigarettes.
One of the more egregious acts of violence occurred in 2009, when a gunman shooting from the doorway of Howard-Hoyne Foods, shot a man who was sitting in a car in the parking lot.
Additionally, on May 4 of this year, Evanston drug and gang officers noticed suspicious activity at the store while on patrol. Evanston police detectives made a second pass to check the store more closely. Police then witnessed shots fired from the front of the store. Evanston police recovered the two revolvers used by the shooter in this particular violent incident.
Gary Brooks, Chair of the Brummel Street Neighbors, a neighborhood association on the south side of Evanston, reported at the meeting that, “People are going into the store but no one is buying anything.”
As a result of the community meeting, Assistant Commissioner Gressel ordered the following recommendations for the owner of Howard-Hoyne Foods:
1. The business owner must maintain a log of times he or an employee calls 9-1-1 and the reason for the call;
2. When the business owner/employees call police, the caller from the store must sign the police complaint;
3. The owners must clean-up (and keep a record of) the area immediately around their store twice daily including a clean-up of the lot, rear and Hoyne Street side;
4. “No Trespassing and No Loitering” signs must be displayed, and the business operators must not allow people to loiter;
5. Hire a part-time security guard from a bonded licensed company;
6. Install security cameras;
7. Clear windows of all paper signs obstructing a clear view into store and keep windows clean;
8. Stop selling rolling papers;
9. Stop selling single cigarettes and “blunts” in packs less than five per pack;
10. Stop selling Chore Boy pads and little baggies;
11. Attend the September 24 CAPS (Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy ) district meeting; and
12. Attend the September Howard Street Business Association meeting.
Assistant Commissioner Gressel scheduled a follow-up community meeting at 10 a.m. on October 4 at Chicago City Hall (8th Floor, 121 N. LaSalle St., Chicago, 60602) to ensure the business owners have complied with her directions. If the business fails to comply with the Assistant Commissioner’s recommendations, it could immediately be referred to the City of Chicago’s Licensing Division for more formal disciplinary action.
“With a great historical track record, I am hopeful the recommendations of the Assistant Commissioner will work. However, it is up to the business owner to implement them and because of that, I am a bit less optimistic. I have a real perspective of the Howard Street area and it is improving. I truly believe, if this store reforms or closes, it will make a huge positive impact on the community,” concluded Rainey.