Snow shovelers got off easy this year--until January 30. Our correspondent headed to Western Avenue, between 3200 and 3600 North, to report on the state of the sidewalks (surveyed Thursday, January 31, 2002):
Taco bell. Fair. A good job except around the advertising bench, where the kids from Lane Tech like to hang out, and on the corner of Addison, where it's most important. If the snow ices up, the kids should be able to slide right into traffic.
Dunkin' Donuts, Big Boy Gyros, H&R Block, Pro Nails, Insure One, and Just Dance. Good. An anchorless strip mall since the Blockbuster moved down the street. But even the walk in front of the vacant store is nicely shoveled.
3511 to 3521 N. Western. Good. Five brick two-flats.
Bridgestone tire. Fair. They forgot to do the corners.
American Lube. Good.
Soundz Good inc. Good.
Jack Raffe & Sons, Jr Movers. Fair. An excellent job until the shovel broke at the north end.
3433 N. Western. Excellent. A small frame house.
Party City and Kinko's. Good. The sidewalk in front of Kinko's is nicely done but as you go south the walk hasn't been touched. A guy plowing the lot says he was called away earlier in the day after several company trucks broke down. "The snow's just too heavy," he explains. He promises he'll get to the sidewalk soon and, a minute later, while I'm taking notes in front of the party store, I hear a noise and look up. The plow's coming straight at me. Excellent.
North Community Bank. Good. But how about the corner?
Roscoe & Western Truck Center. Fair. Are they waiting for the CTA to do the bus stop and around the bench? Dream on.
Two Way Saloon. Poor. It's locked up tight at 10 PM.
Economy Auto Mart. Poor. They cleared in front of the sales office but didn't bother with the long stretch of walk heading south. Most pedestrians take their chances on Western, which is a single lane alongside the Belmont overpass.
Jasmin Jahal School of Dance. Good. An island of cement.
3303 N. Western. Poor. "Cars and trucks from $300 to $2,500."
F&K Remodeling Service. Poor.
The Blue Light. Excellent. A cop bar. There's only two customers but it's early. They close at 4 AM. The bartender says the Two Way Saloon is out of business.
3245 N. Western. Poor. A lot full of snow-covered cars.
3243 N. Western. Fair. Another cop bar. But why is it closed? A nice modern look, if that's what you want in a saloon.
Cassidy Tire. Poor. The sidewalk on Melrose is shoveled but the one on Western hasn't been touched.
Planned Lighting, Inc. Poor. Cleared in front of their own door.
Sierra Auto. Good. A meandering, lackadaisical sort of job but the long walks on Western and on Belmont are both passable, and that took a lot of hard work.
Chicago Police Department. Good. Area Three and the 19th District share the northwest corner of Belmont and Western.
Riverview Plaza. Poor. Named after the legendary amusement park that once occupied the site. They're still offering cheap thrills here. Call it Dodge the Traffic. The place is packed with some of the biggest names in retailing: Dominick's, Walgreens, Toys "R" Us, Blockbuster, Radio Shack, GNC, and Payless Shoes. But not one inch of the sidewalk on Western or on Roscoe has been touched. Pedestrians can take their chances with the cars in the parking lot or those in the narrow lane on Western. One of these winters somebody's going to get killed. Worse than poor. An embarrassment.
Jewel-Osco. Excellent. If you need groceries or drugs, this is the place. They did the entire sidewalk from property line to property line, including a little-used stretch on Roscoe west of the store. Give the store manager and the shovelers medals.
Lane Tech. Excellent. The custodians might be hiding out in the boiler room the rest of the year, but when it snows, these guys go to town. What are the chances that the kids appreciate it?