Thursday, August 02, 2012
Help bring Oak Lawn's Arena Lanes Bowling Alley Back To Our Neighborhood People! Formerly Oak Lawn's Brunswick Bowl on 103rd Street
Hoping you can get some kind of message out like the one I have been sending to the 5,000+ subscribers to my Neighborhood Newsletter, about 1,600 of which live in Mt. Greenwood, Merrionette Park, Beverly and Evergreen Park.
I am a Trustee in Oak Lawn and have been waging a 6-year battle against Brunswick Corporation over the gangster hang-out they used to call the Brunswick Zone.
Two weeks ago Bill Bard (son of the original owner from the 1960s) took back the ownership and management of the bowling alley from Brunswick Corporation. The Bards are the family who built and lived in the home at 104th & Central Park with the bowling alley in the basement.
For those who have lived in this area for a long time, especially those living near the bowling alley, this without question has to be one of the GREATEST DEVELOPMENTS in the history of this neighborhood. It certainly is for me, even though I have only lived here for the past 12 years.
Because in my capacity as Oak Lawn’s 6th District Trustee I get all the police reports for incidents in this area, and the bowling alley is in the 6th District. TRUST ME when I say that the former “Brunswick Zone” was without questions the #1 criminal problem in our area for the past decade. Ask any Oak Lawn cop, any Evergreen Park cop, or any CPD form the 22nd District and they will tell you the same.
At first it was just a problem with punks, drunks and miscreants, then with gangster-wannabe's, and eventually it became a haven and hang-out for real gang-bangers, culminating in the violent shoot-out on 103rd Street in the summer of 2010 between 2 of Chicago’s hardest-core street gangs.
Since 2006 I have railed against Brunswick Corporation because I believed – and stated publicly – that Brunswick was purposefully marketing to these people with their urban night club atmosphere. Almost every offender arrested at Brunswick lived several miles away and often drove past several bowling alleys - through Evergreen Park, Mt. Greenwood, Beverly, etc. - to get to the “bowling alley” in Oak Lawn.
Things got pretty heated between Brunswick executives and me, and I even had to deal with other Village board members who were apologists for Brunswick’s bullshit.
Into this battle marched Bill Bard, the son of the guy who started Arena Lanes back in the 60s. I had never met nor talked to Bill Bard, but he later informed me that he frequently sat in on the Village board meetings when the debates with and about Brunswick took place. Bill still owned the bowling alley property and the offices that sit alongside it, and he told me he had enough of the problems as well.
When Brunswick tried to play hard-ball with Bill over their recent lease renewal, Bill decided not to renew their lease. And the problems there have almost completely disappeared. It wasn't unusual to have 4 and 5 police calls there in a WEEK a few years ago.
KEY TAKEAWAY FROM THIS
This isn't just about bowling - this is about NEIGHBORHOODS. And doing what we can to keep them safe, and to make them unattractive to criminals and gang-bangers by filling the place with families and children and actual bowling.
If the people of our community can make an effort to go there – to bowl, have parties, host fundraisers, etc - we could go a long way in helping Bill Bard and Arena Lanes re-establish themselves as the family-oriented entertainment destination they were always supposed to be, and that Bill Bard wants them to be.
Finally, for all the Facebook people out there, would you please do the following:
1. Click on the Arena Lanes Facebook page and “Like” it: https://www.facebook.com/ArenaLanes
2. Click on the Arena Lanes web site, look for the Facebook icon, and then “Share” the web site with your FB Friends: http://arenalanes.com/
As the legendary Fred Rogers was fond of saying………..
“It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood!!!!!”
"Worry about your character, not your reputation. Your character is who you really are; your reputation is what people think you are, and is subject to the efforts of others to sully that reputation." John Wooden