April 18, 2023 Announcement
Today we announce the formation of WE CAN, the West of Edens Community Action Network, as well as the launch of No Loyola Lights and continuation of Friends of West Park as WE CAN initiatives.
For too long, residents of the diverse and geographically isolated West of Edens Community have received local government treatment never experienced in other parts of Wilmette.
The small unprogrammed neighborhood park area in West Park has been decimated by the Park District with Village approval over the last decade in order to build and expand a lighted recreational and party club used primarily by paying members from other areas, day and night, all year. That facility is the cause of disturbance conditions for the park's neighbors and other users not experienced in other parts of Wilmette. The most recent expansion was approved by the Village Board last year despite overwhelming neighborhood opposition and a unanimous negative Zoning Board recommendation.
The Village treats the Park District as immune from both receiving a "hard no" to zoning applications and from complying with Village ordinances--at least as regards West Park--even when requirements and deadlines are explicitly set by the Village Board as protections for residents. Currently, a Zoning Board hearing is scheduled for next month after the Village invited a new Park District application earlier this year with an explicit endorsement of an operational expansion--something the Village has never done before, and which it did after acknowledging the Park District's ordinance compliance failures but again failing to take enforcement action.
Many residents in the West of Edens Community also experience the increasing burdens of living close to Loyola Academy's rapidly evolving campus. We now face an imminent battle to stop Loyola from obtaining Village approval to regularly hold evening sports and other events at its stadium with thousands of spectators. Loyola has already filed an incomplete application for permanent 80 feet light towers and more, and may proceed to a Zoning Board hearing within the next two months.
This follows a half decade of expansion approvals obtained by Loyola from the Village with no mention of these plans for permanent stadium lights despite submission of master plan documents supposedly extending to 2025. There is even talk of a possible deal between Loyola and the Park District to help facilitate Village approval, an alarming prospect given how the Village and Park District already collaborate in their mistreatment of the West of Edens Community. With or without such a deal, we fear Loyola's application for lights will be another situation in which the Village does not consider "hard no" to be an option from the outset.
The combination of the Edens Expressway, the Platform Tennis Club in West Park, and Loyola Academy already constitute burdens and disturbances to a level not experienced anywhere else in Wilmette. The West of Edens Community recognizes that it must organize and take action or the situation will worsen. These are issues of community development and preservation, zoning, human relations, legal enforcement, mismanagement, conflict of interest, retaliation and bias, and more. We will work to protect our rights, our homes and our lives.
Together WE CAN.
West of Edens Community Action Network