Wicker Park, Bucktown task local employees with neighborhood monitoring

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Wicker Park and Bucktown continue to attract locals and tourists who want to venture out from the typical spots downtown and experience Chicago's rich, distinctive neighborhood culture.

"It's a far, far better neighborhood than it was 20 years ago," said Brent Norsman, a resident.

That's how long Norsman has lived in the neighborhood. While he has seen a steady decline in crime, the area's burgeoning population of artists and musicians sometimes leave its mark.

"With that comes a lot of stickering, a lot of graffiti and some naughty behavior," said Pamela Maass, of the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce.

The Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce is introducing a new program that incentivizes businesses to have employees help monitor the neighborhood.

The program, being called the WPB Ambassador Program, offers a financial incentive for businesses to send their employees on weekly walks through the neighborhood where they will engage with pedestrians and identify areas that need to be cleaned up.

"If they see overflowing trash cans or a new graffiti tag, they can help us expedite communication to city to get that cleaned up," Maass said.

Businesses that participate in the program will receive annual rebates of more than $3,000 to pay their employees to keep an eye on the neighborhood.

"I think it's really smart because people who work here, live here, they care more than a security guard would. So I think this is a great idea, great program," said Ivonne Kalinski, a woman in the area on Wednesday.
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