Wicker Park, Bucktown to spend $50,000 on safety initiatives

The business district in Wicker Park and Bucktown will spend $50,000 on initiatives that could include private security patrols, security cameras and partnerships with local businesses to boost the area’s safety.

The sum is more than the $20,000 budgeted in July but less than the $100,000 Ald. Brian Hopkins, 2nd, and Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno, 1st, wanted set aside from a special tax fund. They sought to hire firms, staffed mostly by off-duty and retired police officers who have arrest powers and sometimes carry guns, using $100,000 from a $1.2 million budget that comes from property taxes and is managed by businesspeople in the neighborhoods. Hopkins cited an increase in crime as the reason for the outlay.

On July 20, the Bucktown and Wicker Park “special service area,” which like others is run by volunteer commissioners appointed by the mayor and approved by the aldermen, revised its proposed 2017 budget to include $20,000 for safety initiatives.

But Hopkins said last week that $20,000 wouldn’t cut it for business districts the size of Wicker Park and Bucktown.