by Nolan Peterson April 26, 2012
Downtown residents and businesses are bracing for next month’s NATO summit in Chicago, with insurance companies giving advice, building managers getting training and at least one property manager urging residents to leave town for the weekend.
A letter from the property manager of the 17-story Library Tower building on South State Street advised residents to abandon their apartments for the weekend of the NATO summit.
“We are strongly recommending that all residents find alternative places to stay from May 18th to May 21st,” the letter said. “There will be two armed off duty police officers in the building.”
The NATO Summit is scheduled for May 20-21.
Hub international, a global insurance brokerage firm headquartered in downtown Chicago, published a checklist on its website to help local businesses take steps to enhance security.
The checklist recommends: Adding crowd control barriers to property perimeters, hiring third party security contractors, holding training sessions for employees on emergency response procedures and to proactively use video cameras to gather intelligence on the security situation.
The Apartment Building Owners and Managers Association of Illinois is holding a series of meetings to educate downtown residents and business owners on the extent of the threat posed by summit protests and what precautions should be taken.
The next meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday at the SEIU Local 1 training center, 120 S. Sangamon St.
For some, misgivings about the summit are secondary to the potential economic benefits.
A spokeswoman from the Chicago Loop Alliance, a downtown business group, said recent briefings from the Secret Service, Chicago Police, and Hillard Heintze, a security strategies firm, provided a more optimistic perspective on the threat.
“The Loop is open for business, and we are not anticipating any significant problems,” said Laura Jones, associate director of the Chicago Loop Alliance. “We have the utmost confidence in our police department, they know how to handle these things.”
Ty Tabing, executive director of the Chicago Loop Alliance, said, “People are buying plywood in case they have to board up windows, but overall the economic impact should be positive.”
Even the city’s art may be at risk.
“We’re definitely preparing just like everyone else, but we’re not yet prepared to discuss specifics,” said Chai Green, associate director of public affairs for the Art Institute of Chicago.
And even some area journalists are getting specialized training in conflict reporting, according to a representative of an area newspaper who asked not to be named for competitive reasons. He said they want to be ready in case the protests turn violent.
Medill Reports previously reported that area universities with campuses in the Loop and the South Loop plan to cancel classes and events in anticipation of the summit.
An estimated 10,000 people, including 2,000 journalists are expected to descend on Chicago for next month’s event, according to the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications.
The Secret Service estimates between 10,000 and 100,000 protestors will descend on Chicago next month.
In addition to Chicago Police, FBI and Secret Service operations, City Hall officials announced last week that up to 500 Illinois State Troopers and 600 National
Guardsmen will be deployed to Chicago to bolster security for the event.