Monday, April 9, 2012

NATO and the People

Kaitlyn Mattson
WCB Politics Writer

The estimated crowds gathering for the NATO summit could affect residents and businesses in the area.

With the world watching over Chicago during NATO weekend, some businesses are making the decision to shut their stores during those days, for safety purposes mostly.

Although in a recent article on, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel said the summit would show off Chicago, help grow businesses and that there will be no reimbursements for any loses for businesses during that weekend.

With that in mind some business are choosing to close anyways.

Columbia College Chicago moved up its graduation date and has chosen to close the campus from May 19 to May 22.

“I can speak to the impact of the NATO summit, both on me, personally and on at least one local business with whom I’ve spoken and the yacht club at which I’m the director,” said Bill Van Emburg, the treasurer of the greater south loop association, a not-for-profit neighborhood organization, via email.

“My yacht club is shut down for a week, and will see reduced revenue and missed opportunities for new members for two months as Burnham Harbor, 1559 S. Lake Shore Drive, is closed until May 24,” Emburg said. “It will seriously impact our revenue for the year.”

Emburg has spoken with a Michigan Avenue business owner as well who has shown concern about whether he will be able to stay open during the week. He is located south of Cermak, right next to McCormick Place.

“I think he [the business owner] doesn’t know [right now], whether he will be open. And no one really knows,” said Emburg. “ [But] if they aren’t wondering they aren’t paying attention. The rumor is there will be a two block security zone and that will obvious affect some businesses.”

However, will issues with the NATO summit have been voiced to some, others have heard little concern from residents and business owners.

Deb Soehlig, the past president and membership chair of the greater south loop association, said via email, “I haven’t seen any questions on the website nor at our meetings about NATO.”

As well, the south loop neighbors have not heard any information about NATO security measures, according to Dennis McClendon, the vice president of the south loop neighbors.

Also, the active transportation alliance, according to Ethan Spotts, the marking director has “not received any input or questions about the NATO summit.” The active transportation alliance is an organization in place to make bicycling, walking and public transit safe and convenient, from

However, according to, Chicago Metra is working with the U.S. Secret Service, Chicago police, other municipal police departments and other transit agencies to coordinate plans regarding security during the NATO summit. Locations that will be impacted by traffic and road closures are being identified.

Emburg said, the lack of information is a problem. And the fact that the city of Chicago is ignoring that this will hurt businesses, like “take the yacht club for example,” it will not get back the money it will loose during the summit. And that is also a problem.

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