G8/NATO neighbors in the dark on logistics

February 22, 2012 3:46:27 PM PST
Many who live and work near McCormick Place are waiting to hear how the upcoming G8 and NATO summits will affect their business operations and their daily routines.

Traffic will be re-routed and special passes may be necessary to access the area near the site of the summit.

The question - one of about 10,000 or more - is when will there be some answers.

The Secret Service is designing the overall summit security plan and they've said details won't be released until two to four weeks before the event.

While many residents and business owners say they're prepared to be patient, they also want time to prepare for reality.

Cheryl Francis lives across in Eastgate Village, across the street and to the south of McCormick Place.

"At this point, information on a residential basis is very limited," she told ABC7.

How is traffic to be routed? Will there be a physical fence? Will we need special passes to come and go? Those are just the starter questions and without answers yet, Cheryl and other McCormick neighbors are thinking maybe living at home summit weekend isn't practical.

"The reality is there will have to be an alternate dwelling for us to live life, for my grandson to get to school, and for my daughter to engage in regular activities," said Francis.

"I don't know if I'm going to have customers, and if I don't have customers, I don't have income," said Maureen Joyce, owner of Joyce Ford on Michigan Avenue, nearby McCormick Place.

Joyce's car dealership is so close to McCormick Place, it'll be well within an inner security zone that the Secret Service will establish. The question is, will customers be able to get to her?

"I can't tell ComEd, the summit's in town. I can't pay you," said Joyce.

There are many businesses within a small radius of McCormick Place, and over the last decade, the South Loop population has boomed. By some estimates there are five to ten-thousand people living n the shadow of where the G8 and NATO leaders will be meeting in May.

There will be security perimeters, and some form of credentialing for those who require access to the area, but no details yet from the Secret Service - nor a comment on whether an inner most fence like one used for Toronto's 2010 summit - will be erected.

There are questions about the possibility of shutdowns on The Stevenson and Lake Shore Drive, which rim the edges of McCormick, and Metra Electric which passes underneath it. There are schools and churches. And there's Mercy hospital, which is right across the expressway from McCormick.

Shirley Lieb lives six blocks north.

"I don't know if I want to live in an enclave, but I certainly would be happy to know there's some type of protections," said Lieb.

Condo associations, renter, and business groups are all in varying stages of briefings, but apart from advice, the hard facts are hard to find.

On Wednesday afternoon, officials at Mercy Hospital were discussing how the summits will impact them and how difficult will it be for the hospital's employees to get to work. There are no clear answers yet.