Some digging — and a little hot dogging — end hedge hogging of parkland on Lake Shore Drive West

Workers were on the scene early Thursday to dig up the bushes, and homeowner Michael Tadin Jr. said he expected the work to be done by the end of the day. Sod will be planted Friday where the bushes have stood.

SHARE Some digging — and a little hot dogging — end hedge hogging of parkland on Lake Shore Drive West
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Louis Martinez removes the hedges in front of businessman Michael Tadin Jr.’s home at 3026 N. Lake Shore Drive West in Lakeview on July 2, 2020. Tadin turned 3,000 square feet of public parkland into his front yard by placing hedges around the perimeter, but had them removed after public scrutiny.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Michael Tadin Jr.surrendered Thursday.

In the face of public uproar over bushes he planted that cordon off public parkland in front of his home, Tadin said he had reached agreement with the city and Park District to remove the offending hedgerow.

Workers were on the scene early Thursday to dig up the bushes, and Tadin said he expected the work to be done by the end of the day. Sod will be planted Friday where the bushes have stood, he said.

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“It will be back to all grass,” Tadin told me. The exception will be the sidewalk leading to his front gate for which Tadin received special City Council permission in 2017.

Tadin continued to defend his decision to plant the bushes in the first place and said he believed he did everything legally, despite a recent Park District inspector general report that accused him of stringing along park officials for five years in the face of demands that he remove the hedges. Tadin said he thought the dispute had been resolved.

“I didn’t need any issues like this,” Tadin said Thursday in explanation of his change of heart.

“It really wasn’t a big deal,” Tadin said. “I thought it looked nice.”

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Max Garcia and Louis Martinez remove the hedges in front of businessman Michael Tadin Jr.’s home at 3026 N. Lake Shore Drive West in Lakeview on July 2, 2020. Tadin turned 3,000 square feet of public parkland into his front yard by placing hedges around the perimeter, but had them removed after public scrutiny.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Tadin said he never considered the land in front of his property to be his front yard, even though it looked like it after he landscaped the lot by enclosing it with the bushes.

The old boundaries of Lincoln Park extend west of Lake Shore Drive West from Diversey to Belmont, creating a narrow strip of public land that in many cases has been encroached upon by the adjacent property owners.

But nobody has encroached quite as noticeably as Tadin, whose home is the only one on his block that fronts on Lake Shore Drive West. Tadin built the mansion in 2014 on property once owned by an order of nuns.

People asked me why the Park District never just tore out the bushes on its own instead of waiting for Tadin to do so. I don’t know the real answer, but I think it’s understandable the district wouldn’t take steps that could have landed it in court unnecessarily. Plus, this way Tadin has to pay for the removal, not the taxpayers.

It’s also hard to account for the clout factor here.

Tadin’s father, Michael Tadin Sr., is the owner of Marina Cartage and a major Bridgeport power player once labeled the king of the city’s Hired Truck program by the Sun-Times’ Watchdog reporters. Tadin Jr. shares offices with his father, but has his own business interests. You don’t mess with them unless you have your ducks in a row, which somebody seemed to be doing by bringing in the inspector general.

While the Park District was hounding the younger Tadin to remove the bushes, he says the Chicago Department of Transportation — where his family has long had influence — had reassured him it was a city matter.

Tadin said one of the reasons he gave up his fight was that lawyers for both the city and Park District indicated Wednesday they were on the same page and wanted the hedges gone.

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown writes while eating a hot dog outside businessman Michael Tadin Jr.’s home on Wednesday.

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown writes while eating a hot dog outside businessman Michael Tadin Jr.’s home on Wednesday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

Just so we’re all clear: this started with a Block Club Chicago story based on the Park District inspector general’s investigation. Hats off to them.

If you live in the city and like to know what’s happening in your neighborhood, you ought to get familiar with Block Club if you’re not already. They do good work.

All I did was slather on some mustard with my hot dog-eating stunt on Tadin’s lawn. If that helped push events to their logical conclusion, so much the better, but the real credit always should go to the folks who dug up the original information.

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