Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration has issued a permit allowing the Cubs to put a tent and curtain over a Wrigley Field parking lot used by Cubs players that team officials contend is a matter of player security.
Last month, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) rejected the permit application on grounds the unsightly “make-shift tent” was designed to be a “temporary solution” and area residents are fed up with it.
But Cubs spokesman Julian Green disclosed Wednesday that City Hall issued the permit anyway.
“It was approved on condition that we find a long-term solution to parking and we had to move the garbage compactor to another location, which we did. … It’s out of the lot,” Green said.
Tunney was asked whether he signed off on the permit — or whether he was overruled by Buildings Commissioner Judy Frydland.
“I did not sign off on the permit. You have me on record that I’m not signing off on the permit. However, I’m not being run over by the city, by the Building Department. I am consistently out there speaking on behalf of the residents that abutt that Blue Lot,” Tunney said.
“We’ve got to do something. But the Cubs are on notice that this is not sustainable and it has to change. … I’m aware that the permit has been [issued]. I’m aware that there’s safety concerns about the players. But this is like year [four].”
In an April 6 memo, Frydland made it clear that this is the fourth and final year that a permit will be issued by City Hall.
“A permit for a tent on the Blue Lot will not be issued next year. Alternate arrangements must be made for the 2019 season,” the commissioner wrote.
The memo also states, “Trailers are construction trailers and to be used temporarily for construction. Cubs are on official notice that the trailers may not be used for families in the 2019 season and an alternate location for the families [must be] found.”
The commissioner’s memo appeased Tunney.
“The Cubs are on notice that they have got to engage the community that surrounds the Blue Lot and be a good neighbor like you’re supposed to be. And putting a tent there is not being a good neighbor,” the alderman said.
“Yes, it might temporarily fix the parking problem and the security for the players. But there are issues it creates for the residents that abutt this. … There’s a number of issues that have improved over last year. But certainly, we haven’t solved it.”
Emanuel’s decision to overrule Tunney marks a rare departure from past history.
It’s something that the mayor has repeatedly refused to do during the long-running saga between Tunney and the Cubs.
Emanuel has sided with Tunney on issues ranging from Wrigley renovation and the signs needed to bankroll the project to the team’s plea for additional night games, rigid rules that apply to the outdoor plaza adjacent to the stadium and the Cubs’ repeatedly rejected request to close Addison and Clark on game days.
On Wednesday, Green was asked what the permanent solution would be to replace the “tent and curtain” over the lot on Seminary north of Waveland used by Cubs players, their wives and family members.
“As we go into the off-season, that’s something we’ll work on,” he said.
Green reiterated that the Cubs have “always wanted a long-term solution” and proposed a parking structure in 2014, only to get the thumbs-down from Tunney.
“He was against the structure before he was for it. It was a flip-flop,” Green said.
Green hedged when asked whether the Cubs were still committed to building the structure where players and their family members can park.
“That [offer was made] prior to starting the 1060 project, which is already nearing a $1 billion private investment by the Ricketts family. Adding on to the project now would probably be more expensive than it was when we considered doing it four years ago,” Green said.
In a statement emailed to the Sun-Times, Frydland said she “personally spoke with everyone” before brokering an agreement for the 2018 season only.
“I expect the team to have a long-term solution in place before the 2019 season,” she said. “I’m proud that we were all able to reach an agreement, but the Cubs know it’s the last time. We’re not going through this again.”