The city of Chicago is days away from hosting the 2012 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a first for an American city outside of Washington, D.C.
A recent NATO Summit impact study by Chicago-based accounting and consulting firm Deloitte estimated that the city would reap $3 million in tax revenue and, in total, $128.2 million when all services – including hotel stays and restaurant tabs – are factored in.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has publicly expressed how pleased he is about hosting the summit and said the city would “reap the benefit” of the money and exposure that is expected to pour in.
But as the city repaves streets, shores up security and issues alerts about such city services as bus and train reroutes and road closures, some businesses and residents in immediate proximity to McCormick Place – where the summit will take place – are fretting over the impact.
Rev. James Moody Sr. and his flock at Quinn Chapel A.M.E. church, 2401 S. Wabash, will be worshipping at an alternate location Sunday. An administrative assistant at the church told the Chicago Citizen that the pastor was concerned about traffic congestion, nearby road closures and limited access, as well as other logistical challenges that are expected to arise as part of the May 20-21 event.
“We are right in the middle of all of this,” said the worker who identified herself only as Lydia. “There will be a traffic situation, parking will be monstrous and our people will not be able to get here conveniently and park conveniently.”
Mercy Hospital is located a few steps southeast of the church. A spokeswoman for the hospital said that it would business as usual there.
“We’re going to continue to run our business as usual. We know the closures … so what we’re doing is posting information around the hospital to let people know how to be able to enter Mercy during that time,” said Connie Murphy, Mercy’s vice president of marketing and public relations.
She added that the hospital doesn’t anticipate ambulance accessibility, visiting hours and other such services to be impacted.
Victor Ibitoye wishes he could say the same. The general manager of the McDonald’s located one block east of the hospital, at 2525 S. King Drive, and a stone’s throw from the McCormick Center, said he is hoping that the financial impact of having to close his restaurant’s drive-thru would be minimal.
He said the drive-thru would be closed Saturday through Monday, per the Secret Service, and the restaurant will only offer walk-in service.
“We are looking on the bright side. Probably we’ll have more people walk up,” the manager said.
But Daisy Bowers doesn’t seem so optimistic. Although Wabash Avenue won’t be closed near her Ultimate Hair salon at 2109 S. Wabash, she is sure that the parking restrictions, bus reroutes and other traffic havoc will not bode well for her business.
“It’s going to impact my business tremendously,” she said. She expects thousands of people to be “walking the streets” near her hair salon but not necessarily filing in for beauty services.
Bowers said she has not decided if she’ll remain open during the weekend of the summit’s start.
At a nearby day care center, parents were warned of the street closures and other security issues related to the summit. Staff at Loop Learning Center, 2100 S. Michigan, have not announced that the child care program would be closed but they have posted alerts and other information about the summit to help parents consider the impact.
“It’s going to be a nightmare,” said the day care center’s Carolyn Walker.
Nearby public schools will be in session, as regularly scheduled, according to Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman Marielle Sainvilus. Dunbar Career Academy high school, 3000 S. King Drive, and John B. Drake Elementary School, 2722 S. King Drive, are less than a mile away from the site of summit.
“We’ve been in meetings with CPD (Chicago Police Department) and CTA trying to work out plans to see how we can get our students to school on as much time as possible. We’re letting parents know that for that Monday they have to give themselves extra time to get their kids to school,” Sainvilius said. “We’re not anticipating anything happening … and we don’t feel our schools are at risk.
Add to that, the Chicago Transit Authority buses that service the area near the church and McCormick Place will be rerouted during the summit. The No. 1 Indiana/Hyde Park, 3 King Drive, 4 Cottage Grove , 6 Jackson Park Express, 14 Jeffery Express, 21 Cermak, and 35 35th Street buses are among the routes impacted by the summit.
Metra announced that service would be interrupted on its Electric Line — which runs from downtown, right past McCormick Place, out to the South Side, south suburbs and Indiana. Trains will not stop at McCormick place during the summit.
Expect delays, road closures, various public transportation reroutes and special changes, and other alternate plans as part of security measures surrounding the NATO summit May 20-21 at McCormick Place. Below is a list of links to city agencies to refer to for more information.
NATO Chicago Host Committee: www.chicagonato.org
Office of Emergency Management and Communication (OEMC): www.notifychicago.org .
Chicago Police Department: https://portal_chicagopolice.org/portal/page/portal/ClearPath
Chicago Transit Authority: www.TransitChicago.com
Illinois Department of Transportation: www.travelmidwest.com
Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District: http://www.NICTD.com
U.S. Secret Service: http://www.secretservice.gov
By Rhonda Gillespie