Berwyn Man to Keep the Memory of Pearl Harbor Alive

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Wednesday, Dec. 7 marks the 75th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, and Tony Ward of Berwyn has decided to give the surviving veterans of the attack “one last hoorah” to thank them for their service to their country.

At 7 a.m. Wednesday, veterans of the Pearl Harbor attack will board a bus at Berwyn City Hall and head to Navy Pier where at 7:50 a.m. they will place a wreath to float in Lake Michigan to honor those who perished in the bombing.

After returning to Berwyn there will be a public service at 11 a.m. at Berwyn City Hall. The American flag will be lowered to half-staff, a bugler will play and a volley will be fired. Ward will honor each veteran individually with a certificate of honor for their service.

Berwyn Mayor, Robert Lovero, says “The City of Berwyn is pleased to host the remembrance ceremony honoring the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor with the Combined Veterans of Berwyn.” He continues saying “ I encourage all Berwyn residents to join me in front of Berwyn City Hall, 6700 W. 26thSt at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016 in honoring the lives lost on this infamous day in our Nation’s history.”

Ward, who is a woodworker, says he began doing research on Pearl Harbor a year ago when he was healing from a surgery. He spent seven months extensively researching the topic and built an exact replica of the USS Arizona ship at Pearl Harbor as a memorial which will also be at the ceremony. His replica has traveled around and has been displayed at the Edward Hines Jr. Veteran’s Administration Hospital.

Ward estimates that 11 World War II veterans from central Indiana all the way to edges of Wisconsin will gather for this event. Ward says he wishes he could bring more veterans together, but he doesn’t have a facility to hold more people.

“We can’t forget these men,” Ward said. “This is an important piece of our history. Sooner or later they’re going to fade from history.”

Ward also said he wants future generations to remember to spend 10 or 15 minutes to remember the veterans and victims of the war, to continue to honor them in future years.

“In so many communities they have been forgotten,” he said.

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Canadian Visa Lift for Mexican Citizens Gives Hope to Undocumented Student

By Natalie Rodriguez

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Rosario Hernandez

Former Berwyn local, Rosario Hernandez, lived in limbo since she was 7 years old. She lived as a Mexican undocumented immigrant. All of that has changed. She now has legal status and new hope as an immigrant.

Canada made that change possible.

Canada has made life easier for Mexican citizens. As of Dec. 1, 2016, Mexican citizens are able to visit Canada without a visa.

“The lifting of the visa requirement for Mexican citizens will strengthen Canada-Mexico ties and build momentum to expand trade, investment and tourism, strengthening people-to-people ties that will provide lasting benefits for both countries,” according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Hernandez moved to the small city of Saskatoon in the province of Saskatchewan in July. She believes that the lifting of the visa  requirement has been beneficial.

“I think that it will reunite a lot of families as well as give Mexicans a sense of peace that they are welcomed by one of their northern neighbors,” said Hernandez. “ In due time I think it will be a growth for the Canadian economy when Mexican-owned businesses start up confidently throughout its cities and begin to prosper due to an inflow of visitors.”

Hernandez’s decision to move to Canada was not an easy one. While attending Morton West High School, she became aware of challenges caused by her undocumented status.

“I was in high school learning about how much work and grit goes into applying for college as an undocumented Latina woman without financial resources,” said Hernandez.

Regardless of the obstacles, in 2014, Hernandez began her college career at Dominican University double majoring in Mathematics and Biochemistry.

Despite her qualifications, she found it difficult to make her dreams come true.

“After being rejected for an internship at the Fermi lab due to my immigration status, I got closer to my decision to move here,” she said.

Her father already had left for Canada in 2011. He also lived undocumented in the United States but was granted permanent residency by the Canadian government under the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). According to the IRCC, the program allows provinces to nominate qualified individuals for skilled labor to meet local market needs.

This invitation was extended to Hernandez’s family.

“Finally, five years after applying, the Canadian government offered each member of my family permanent residency,” she said. “I was divided between continuing the work for justice I had begun with my undocumented colleagues and thinking about myself and my future career in the sciences.”

Upon arriving in Canada, Hernandez said she immediately felt welcomed.

“Arriving at immigration the officer who attended us said ‘Congratulations, welcome to Canada’ to us — a family who lived in fear of immigration officers their whole lives,” she said.

Hernandez is now seeking to continue her college education in January and meanwhile works at St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatchewan. She and her family continue to establish themselves in her province.

“Four of us obtained social security numbers, permanent residency cards, and passports within the month of being here,” she said. “Documents we had only dreamt of having in the states.”

The visa waiver for Mexican citizens has furthered her hopes for a successful future in Canada. It will be easier now for family members to visit. Instead of a visa, Mexican citizens need to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) which costs just $7, Canadian, and is valid for up to five years. Most that are accepted into the country are allowed to stay six months.

The prospect of reuniting with family members this holiday season reassures Hernandez she made the right decision.

“All of my blood relatives are in Mexico. My grandparents, my aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews,” she said. “I am excited about the reunions that are made possible now because of this new situation.”

Hernandez also believes that the lifting of the visa requirement will show Mexican citizens that they are welcomed and open new opportunities for both countries.

“I think this also gives Mexican citizens an affirmation of our worth. Showing the world that despite of the popular negative beliefs in the States, the rest of the world does not agree,” she said. “But I definitely think it will give confidence and open many doors for Mexican and Canadian entrepreneurs as well as continue to foster the respect that Mexicans and Canadians have for one another’s culture.”

Despite her newfound legal status in Canada, Hernandez said she will always feel like a part of the undocumented community.

“It has been my reality since I was 7 years old. I will always identify with the undocumented, immigrant minorities,” she said. “I am proud and have been unafraid since I discovered at Dominican that I was not alone.”

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The New Higher Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Ordinance, How it could affect Berwyn?

An increase in the minimum wage for Cook County workers has employees in Berwyn happy and business leaders shaken.

Almost half a million workers in suburbs and unincorporated areas would be affected.  Every July the minimum wage will increase progressively from $8.25 now to $13 in 2020. Starting July 1, 2017, the wage will increase to $10 an hour and then by $1 each year after.

Ashton, who asked his last name not to be used, is a CVS employee in Berwyn who approved of the wage increase.

“How is it fair that the property taxes, rent and stuff cost so much but the payment to live in the area is so low,” he said.  “Studios (apartments) start at what, $700? Wage is what $9?  Even if you work 40 hours a week you still can’t afford that.”

Ashton made it clear if employers can live in expensive suburbs like Oak Park, they can afford to pay people what they deserve elsewhere in the county.

However, a Berwyn Marshalls’ employee was conflicted on the increase.

“It helps but you can have a better job where you are doing less things and getting paid more”, said the employee, who declined to give her name.  “I feel like I do a lot here and don’t get paid enough.”

Anthony Griffin, executive director of Berwyn Development Corp. (BDC) said, “There was no advance notice about the new ordinances.”  They were just passed last week so “there has to be time to go over the details” and allow a plan to come together.

Berwyn businesses will be facing the same challenges as those in other Cook County towns.

Republican County Board Commissioner Sean Morrison, who represents the 17th District, opposed the new ordinances in a letter to Suburban Life newspapers.

“Businesses were not informed of this huge cost increase nor did they have an opportunity to prepare or budget for it,” he said.  “With their yearly budgets already set, they will now be forced to increase their staff salaries by 27 percent literally overnight and 58 percent over the next 20 months. Recent actions… will be devastating to our local economy and will no doubt shutter the doors of many businesses along with the loss of numerous jobs for our hardworking residents.”

Morrison also believes Cook County lacks the “home rule authority” to power the ordinances.

The City of Chicago passed similar ordinances back in June and now Cook County follows its footsteps.

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Students Unsure at Morton

By Natalie Rodriguez

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Morton College Library

A library remodeling project has created conflict at Morton College.

After a September announcement that the college would build a new student center that would take over study space on the second floor of the Morton College library, both students and faculty resisted.

Liliana Carrizales, a first-year nursing student at Morton, uses the study area along with other nursing students.

“I do find myself using it so I hope they don’t take it away,” she said. “And most of the students are really concerned.”

According to Carrizales, students don’t have many places to study on campus.

“It would be inconvenient for some of us, because then we would have to find another place to study,” said Carrizales. “We have a nurse lab, with about six computers but it gets crowed and we use that space to spread out, study, and get in groups.”

The nursing students, upon finding out about the two-year initiative, signed a petition with the support of their nursing professors.

“First it was the students that got together and then it was the nursing professors that got together after that,” said Carrizales.”-… as far as we know they’re still going to remodel and demolish it but I know that the council for nurses and everything like students from there, I know they’re working to keep it.”

Carrizales doesn’t see the point in Morton College President Stan Fields wanting to change Morton’s second floor library.

“I see his point of view of making a change, but I also see why, if everything is working fine, there’s no need for change,” she said. “If it’s not broken why fix it?”

Nursing student Tania Alcala agrees with Carrizales.

“It gives us the opportunity to study,” said Alcala. “I don’t really agree to what he wants to do.”

Student trustee Andrea Chavarria disagrees.

“I want my fellow classmates and students at Morton College to have a facility where they have resources that are easily accessible because people that are going through these issues are often afraid to ask for help,” she said.

The proposed Student Success Center would have a behavioral health staff member to help students address student challenges related to homelessness, LGTBQ, depression and more. It will also have study areas and private testing areas.

College Spokeswoman Blanca Jara defended the decision in a letter to the student body.

“Morton College is embarking on a prominent new Student Services Center where students will have new space available for centralized academic support services like tutoring, academic advising and skill assessment,” she wrote.

Chavarria agreed.

“The plan to repurpose the second floor of the library and possibly convert into a Student Success Center, in my opinion, would be a great resource for students,” she wrote.

However, despite open forums held to address student concerns about the Student Success Center, Chavarria thinks that there have been some issues about informing students.

“I believe there are issues that need to be addressed at Morton College, such as the misinformation about the plans to repurpose the second floor of the library,” she said.

In September, Morton’s faculty passed a “vote of no confidence” in Fields. The faculty’s recent vote of no confidence came just before the Higher Learning Commission’s visit to the campus. To be accredited, the college must receive the approval of the Higher Learning Commission.

Carrizales is concerned about HLC’s visit.

“Yeah, especially if we don’t get accredited, then I have to go somewhere else to get certified, to get a degree,” she said.

However, Chavarria does not worry about Morton’s future.

“I have been a student at Morton College for three years, and I can say that the education that I have received at this facility has been amazing,” said Chavarria. “My professors are approachable and will even make time for their students if they need assistance in an assignment.”

In a written statement, provided by Jara, members of the Board of Trustees made it clear that they stand by Fields.

“We also stand committed to supporting Dr. Fields and his vision for a stronger Morton College,” the board wrote. “It is our hope that the faculty will join us in these endeavors and work together to make Morton College the very best that it can be.”

 

 

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Morton High School AP Program Building Off Success

Morton East High School gave Esmeralda Mariscal an opportunity to grow academically and get a jump on college by taking Advanced Placement courses, and the Cicero teen ran with it.

“I took AP courses because I wanted a challenge, but also because the idea of being able to get college credit if I did well on the AP exams really appealed to me. I think that they did fairly well in preparing me for college, especially in relation with the work load and in getting a sense of just how important time management was going to be,” Mariscal said.

Mariscal was just one of the students who helped the J. Sterling Morton High School District 201 to be named a College Board Advanced Placement District of the Year among medium-sized school districts.

The district was given this national award for expanding access to AP classes  while simultaneously  increasing AP Exam scores of three or higher (three or higher is eligible for college credit) over a three-year period.  Continue reading

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City Helps Residents Test for Lead

By Melinda Czifrak

More than a year after testing showed lead in Berwyn residents’ water, the city is continuing to waive tap fees for people concerned about lead in the water.

According to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, lead can enter drinking water when service pipes that contain lead corrode, particularly where the water has “high acidity or low mineral content that corrodes pipes and fixtures.” Corrosion is a dissolving or wearing away of metal caused by a chemical reaction between water and plumbing.

In other words, the lead is not in the water, but in pipes and fixtures. Continue reading

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Berwyn’s Buona Beef Celebrates 35 Years

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The hometown favorite, Buona Beef is celebrating 35 delicious years in business. The famous Italian Beef restaurant serves up more than just its signature Italian Beef. It is home to a long list of other delicious foods like pizza, salads, burgers, hotdogs, sandwiches, panini’s, soups and desserts.

The top three Buona Beef locations near you are Oak Park, Hillside and the original located at 6745 Roosevelt Road in Berwyn.

The deliciousness doesn’t stop there, Buona Beef is popping up in various locations all across Illinois, having 18 locations already according to the business’ website, buona.com.

Through a simple google search, other hotspots for the restaurant include Beverly, Montgomery, Bolingbrook, Glendale Heights, Lombard, Orland Park, Hoffman Estates and Rosemont. Continue reading

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Public Art in Berwyn is Changing

By Melissa Rohman

Public painting in Berwyn is changing as the amount of general and gang graffiti is decreasing and authorized public art is increasing.

Gang graffiti has decreased over the past five years because of the Berwyn Police Department’s proactive Tactical Unit and police work regarding gang activity in the city, according to Berwyn’s Acting Police Chief Michael Cimaglia.

Division Commander Joe Santangelo is in charge of graffiti removal; graffiti is searched and removed Monday through Friday and on the weekends, designated graffiti removers are called in. Most graffiti ] that has been found in the city is gang “tagging” with an identifying symbol or nickname to mark one or more specific areas.

“It’s generally reported in alleys on garages, however we have located it on street signs and playground equipment in parks,” Cimaglia said. Continue reading

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The Funding Standstill is Over for Berwyn Park District

By Emily Lapinski

After a four-month delay, the Berwyn Park District is back on track and moving forward with plans to expand and improve the park system.

Berwyn parks lost close to $400,000 in grants earlier this year due to budget cuts made by Gov. Bruce Rauner. The grant suspension put a delay on two major projects. The first was an $87,500 grant for land acquisition for a new park and the second was a $306,600 grant for renovation and redevelopment of existing parks, specifically their water drainage systems.

“The first thing that we can take away from this is that you always hear people talking about going for grants but you have to keep in mind that grants can dry up, be suspended or even cancelled out,” said Jeffery Janda, executive director of the Berwyn Park District. “As a result, the project or program you are moving forward with suddenly comes to a standstill.” Continue reading

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Berwyn Bars and Restaurants Bask in Cubs Championship Run

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By Marty Carlino

Tickets for World Series games at Wrigley Field topped $3,000, but fans at Fitzgerald’s got the bleachers, the atmosphere and a very big screen for the price of a beer.

After a 71-year drought, the Chicago Cubs returned to play in Major League Baseball’s fall classic, the World Series. Cubs fans throughout the state of Illinois have come out in large crowds to support their team at their favorite establishments.

In Berwyn, bars and restaurants throughout the city have cherished the Cubs successful postseason run. Several have even pulled out all the stops to accommodate Cubs fans and large crowds.

One of Berwyn’s most popular establishments, Fitzgerald’s, typically a music venue, set up a unique atmosphere for fans to take in the Cubs playoff games. Continue reading

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District 201 Schools Rally for Funding

By Rich Bodee

On the morning of Oct. 6, before school even began at both Morton East and West high schools, students, parents, and faculty rallied in support of three things: K-12 and college education funding, a call to end standardized testing, and education funding equality.

“The rallies were sponsored by the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS), which is a national coalition between labor unions, mainly the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association,” Robert Bartlett, a teacher at Morton West said. Continue reading

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Has the Big Hurt Struck Out?

 

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By Jonathan De Leon

Two years ago, The Big Hurt Brewhouse opened in September of 2014 on the corner of Cermak and Oak Park with boosters claiming it was the next great sports mecca and tourist attraction.

Now it stands quiet, with the sign “closed for remodeling” taped on the doors outside.

Neither restaurant management nor owner Frank Thomas, Chicago White Sox legend, could be reached.

Berwyn officials had no answers as well about the sudden closing. Continue reading

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World’s Largest Laundromat Makes a World of Difference on the Planet

By Rachael Stewart

When someone says laundry, what comes to mind? Do you think of flat screen televisions, vending machines, free coffee and food, video games, a bird sanctuary, and a children’s’ play area?

For those who do their laundry at World’s Largest Laundromat in Berwyn, that is all a reality. If that were not enough, this laundromat has decided to take its service and customer satisfaction to the next level by focusing on going green, and I don’t mean like the Incredible Hulk.

Owner Tom Benson decided to make a change in how his laundromat was run in 2001 when the price of natural gas had drastically increased. Benson says that he wanted to find a more economical way to power the building so he turned to solar power. In 2001, he had 22 solar panels installed on the roof of the building to create energy. The business now has 36 solar panels installed working to heat the water for the wash cycles. Continue reading

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Berwyn Community Divided About Video Game Poker

By Natalie Rodriguez

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Advertisement for video poker

Years after video game poker was approved, Berwyn residents are still conflicted about the machines. Steve Wallon, longtime homeowner in Berwyn believes that video game poker damages the community.

“This hurts a community’s image, especially for Berwyn, by attracting a certain crowd that is not desirable to young families or new home buyers,” says Wallon.

Alderman Ted Polashek, who is currently running for mayor against incumbent Robert Lovero, said he feels the same way. According to Polashek, although there are ordinances for the signs, their presence still affects the community’s image.

“You’re selling Berwyn as a great community for your family and as you’re driving down you got some gambling casinos are really right next to each other,” said Polashek. “You got one down a hundred feet from another one, or two hundred feet from another one and they got neon signs in there blinking and it’s like Pottersville in some areas of town.” Continue reading

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Remembering Berwyn Resident Peter Fabbri

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Pictured: Peter Michael Fabbri, 54. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

By Melissa Rohman

Berwyn resident Peter Fabbri was more than just another crime statistic to his family and friends. He was born on December 18, 1961. He was a family man and a hard worker. He was the father to two adult daughters.

“Stand up, loving, caring; he’d always do anything to be there for you,” said Joe Fabbri, 47, to describe his oldest brother Peter. “He’s always been there, he’s always been a worker. He worked all his life.”

Peter Fabbri, 54, was shot dead at the northeast corner of East Monroe St. and South Michigan Ave. near Millennium Park at about 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 24 by gang member Paul Pagan, 32, after an argument that occurred between Pagan and Fabbri, the Chicago police department reported. Continue reading

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Morton West Graduate Competes in International Singing Competition

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By Marty Carlino

Inspired by a post-concert meet and greet with pop star Mike Posner, Berwyn native Adam Martinez headed straight to his own studio.

Martinez, sporting his usual black Sennheiser headphones, tossed his black acoustic guitar to the side and used nothing but his powerful vocals to record his latest cover.

Martinez does nearly all of his work in his bedroom, which also serves as his recording studio. The space is equipped with his personal collection of recording software and instruments. Continue reading

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Berwyn welcomes increase of out and proud community members

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Richard Mondragon (bottom row, center), BDC Board President, poses for a photo with fellow Berwyn residents as Northalsted Market Days. Photo courtesy of the BDC.

By Jocelyn Cano

Over the last seven years the city of Berwyn has become a popular neighborhood among members of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community.

This growth is due to a marketing push starting in 2009, when the Berwyn Development Corporation (BDC) started the “Why Berwyn?”  campaign. Advertisements were placed in multiple Chicago neighborhoods such as Andersonville and Lakeview. In 2016 alone, the city spent $70,000 on this marketing campaign.

Recently, Williams Institute of UCLA named Berwyn  “#3 in suburbs for same-sex couples” in the Chicagoland area, just behind Oak Park and Evanston.

According to a US Census reported by UCLA from 2000 to 2010, Berwyn had a 41 percent increase in households reporting same-sex couples. Continue reading

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Berwyn South School District 100 Welcomes Transgender Policies

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By Emily Lapinski

In cooperation with the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, Berwyn South School District 100 leaders have now openly committed to creating an inclusive environment for students, families and staff regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

The implementation of this policy started this past August after a summer of preparation and planning. According to the District 100 website taking on this policy was in response to students in both the middle and elementary schools in the district coming out as transgender.

Berwyn’s South School District is a racially, ethnically and socioeconomically diverse community, and it is nice to see it join the nationwide push for inclusion in schools.The North Berwyn district has yet to officially implement this policy and Morton High School District 201 has a variation of the policy in place. Continue reading

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Morton Soccer Flying High

By Chris Sich

Friends and family settled in and took their seats on the frigid bleachers of Morton West Stadium as the J. Sterling Morton men’s soccer team took the field Tuesday of last week. There is a buzz in the air. The lights and sounds from Harlem Ave. passively filter into the stadium; brakes screech and car engines rumble as traffic stops and goes. Players’ warm-up and coaches discuss tactics, as they prepare to kickoff against the Willowbrook Warriors. A win would add to the Mustangs already stellar season.

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Mortons Baltazar Duran goes for the ball.

According to Max Preps rankings, the Morton men’s soccer team is ranked first in the nation and has a 19-0-1 record. With a convincing 4-2 win over the Warriors and only a couple of games left in the season, the team has its sights set on finishing strong.

“I think we have been successful this year because of our teamwork on the field, and the skill of our players,” said Head Coach Mike Caruso. “One of our main strengths of our team is that we have players that can play several different positions, which gives us a lot of versatility for the different styles of teams we face. “ Continue reading

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Next Stop: Depot District Redevelopment

By Melinda Czifrak

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Current commercial areas in the Depot District; Photo courtesy of the Berwyn Development Corporation

In the dreams of Berwyn’s planners, crowds fill the busy streets of the Depot District, with shoppers and retailers mingling inside quaint shops as others enjoy a meal in one of the area’s many restaurants. Outside, cars drive by, the final touch to an otherwise perfect picture of retail bliss.

The Depot District’s reality, however, looks a little bit different.

In recent years, the city of Berwyn has attempted to bolster its retail offerings and develop a destination dinning corridor. Continue reading

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