LOGAN SQUARE — A local organization is restarting the conversation around creating a special taxing district in Logan Square after a previous effort fizzled due to the pandemic.
The Logan Square Chamber of Commerce is holding a series of meetings to gauge the community’s interest in establishing a special service area in Logan Square to pay for neighborhood services and amenities.
The first community meeting is set for 10 on Jan. 26 at 2646 N. Milwaukee Ave. Details for the other two meetings are still being worked out, said chamber executive director Nilda Esparza.
Next week’s meeting will act as a reintroduction to the program and address basic questions, Esparza said: What is a special service area? Why should Logan Square establish one? And how is a special service area created?
A special service area imposes an additional tax on property owners within specific boundaries to pay for communal services such as snow removal and trash pickup. The program is used to beautify neighborhoods and spur economic development.
The city contacts with local nonprofits to be the neighborhood’s service provider. Commissioners who oversee the budget and other operations are appointed by the mayor.
There are 56 special service areas in Chicago, according to the city.
The taxing districts sometimes draw criticism because they push another cost onto already-burdened taxpayers and they don’t require elected oversight.
That has led to sometimes bizarre projects and marketing campaigns, like when a Lakeview group released 50 paper airplanes with $50 bills attached, hoping people would use the money on local businesses.
But Esparza said the program could be a boon for Logan Square, especially with major construction projects such as the Kedzie Avenue plaza and the Logan Square traffic redesign on the horizon.
“There’s so many awesome things that we can do with a program like this that will draw more people to our community,” she said.
Before joining the Logan Square Chamber, Esparza managed a special service area in Little Village, she said.
Esparza is picking up where the previous Logan Square chamber director, Jessica Wobbekind, left off.
Wobbekind came “really, really close” to establishing a special service area along Logan Square’s Milwaukee Avenue a few years ago, but the project was derailed by the pandemic, Esparza said.
That effort had the support of Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th).
Esparza said the plan will only move forward if a majority of neighbors show support across three meetings and in surveys.
The chamber missed the city’s 2024 application deadline, so the earliest the organization can apply is 2025, she said.
“We’re here to listen. We’re here to be the most transparent,” Esparza said.
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