East Hyde Park residents plan to form a group that will come up with solutions for the noise issues in Burnham Park this summer. 

The decision may provide a resolution to a disagreement that had been dividing the part of the neighborhood affected by the problem — including late-night fireworks and music — and led to two separate groups of residents circulating petitions with opposing stances. 

At Wednesday’s meeting, Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said that she did not think the petition system would work. “In the last meeting, I talked about not wanting to fracture the community. And I do believe this petition, counter-petition, is something that will fracture the community,” she said. “Along (South) Shore Drive there are a little more than 800 registered voters — 150 on either side is not enough for me to say this is what everybody wants, and we are probably evenly divided.

“I do not want us at each other’s throats over this issue. We have so many bigger issues.” 

In response, Jourdan Sorrell — a 33-year resident of Hyde Park who lives on the corner of 54th Street and South Shore Drive — put forward the idea of creating a coalition of residents that would try to create a solution to the problem. 

“I’m concerned as a Black man that sometimes these conversations become a little bit loaded and a little bit microaggressive, to be candid," he said. "I want to make sure it’s being balanced out because people that look like me are coming into this community, but I also understand people are concerned about safety, too.” 

Sorrell told the Herald on Thursday that he’s been involved with similar initiatives before, like one to help raise awareness around the 2020 U.S. Census. 

“(It’s) bringing voices in, letting people not only provide their perspective but also giving them agency to say — if we want to move forward on these few things, how do we move forward in a way that’s going to not only hear and respect people’s opinions, but moving along in the process?”, he said. 

During the meeting, residents also discussed the possibility of using non-police resources to mitigate the noise issues, as well as the occasional problem of gun violence. (One person participating said that a bullet had recently been fired into one of the buildings along South Shore Drive.)

John Hieronymus, a resident and organizer with Tenants United Hyde Park/Woodlawn, pointed to violence interrupter programs as one solution. 

“We know that every summer the park and the lakefront becomes a place where violence does happen,” he said. “And in my opinion, as someone who’s lived in Hyde Park for 10 years, I’ve only ever seen the police come through and kick out a very specific group of people …. We should be talking about having a real violence prevention program.” 

Others emphasized that the lake and parks are public land available to everyone. “The lake is everybody’s, and we don’t own it,” said one person. “And so can we try and ensure that — especially now — people have access to this important resource and are respectful.” 

Sorrell said he’s hopeful the new group will move the conversation forward in a productive way. “When we come together as Hyde Park residents in a common cause and do so in a spirit that is reflective of our community, you know, great things can happen,” he said. 

Residents who are interested in joining the group can email jourdan.sorrell@gmail.com


Christian Belanger graduated from the University of Chicago in 2017. He has previously written for South Side Weekly, Chicago magazine and the Chicago Reader.

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