2020 Year in Review
The Skokie Health and Human Services Department led the Village’s response to the pandemic, providing information to the community, working closely with the Centers for Disease Control, Illinois Department of Public Health and local partners all while undertaking contact tracing efforts and advising individual residents, long-term care facilities and others needing guidance as the pandemic conditions changed throughout the year. Employees in every Village department and division continue to assist with the response effort.
Hotel Approved for Downtown Skokie
Sketchbook Brewing Company Opens
Sketchbook Brewing Company opened at 4910 Main Street, with brewing operations beginning in the spring followed by the tap room opening in late July.
The brewery and tap room quickly became a community favorite, with the Village supporting a local food truck initiative at the site on weekends, owners providing regular brewery tours and more.
Skokie Spirit Shines Through Campaign
In late March, the Village launched the campaign that encouraged residents to submit photos and uplifting messages for a new section on the Village website. The Skokie Community Foundation quickly supported the campaign by launching a fundraising effort that resulted in Skokie residents and businesses donating more than $60,000 that Skokie Human Services staff used to help Skokie residents experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic.
Skokie Businesses Do More to Meet the Moment
Whether large or small, 2020 was a challenging year for all Skokie businesses. They quickly stepped up to meet the community’s needs by offering curbside pick up and delivery service, special hours for vulnerable residents, erecting tents for outdoor dining, organizing outdoor concerts such as the one above showing Brit Beat performing at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, donating food to essential workers and so much more, as seen in the photo to the right showing Skokie firefighters enjoying lunch brought to them by Skokie Panera Bread during late March.
8000 North Development Proceeds
After delays due to permitting and financing issues, construction of the residential tower at the 8000 North development on the northwest corner of Oakton Street and Lincoln Avenue began in late October and continues at a rapid pace. The superstructure is slated to be topped off by early 2021, with occupancies in early 2022. The 12-story, $70 million residential and mixed-use tower will feature 153 luxury rental units ranging from studios to penthouse-level 3-bedroom apartments.
8000 North is the culmination of years of efforts by Village leaders to bring an architecturally-significant building to Downtown Skokie. Designed by award-winning, internationally-recognized architect Lucien LaGrange, 8000 North will be in the same league as the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, the Park Tower and the Ritz-Carlton Residences, all designed by LaGrange and located in Chicago’s Gold Coast.
The development is a public-private partnership between the Village and the developer, MDG 8000 North Lincoln. Building amenities will include art throughout the public spaces, a motor court, a rooftop deck and a gathering area that feature a fitness center, yoga studio, fire pits and barbecue grills. The ground floor will feature Shakou, a full-service Asian-fusion restaurant. Other commercial tenants and restaurants are expected to be signed prior to completion. The developers report that nearly 250 people have expressed interest in receiving leasing information for the apartments when available.
Construction updates and an interested parties list for those seeking information on leasing at 8000 North is available at www.8000north.com.
Community Review of the Skokie Police Department Use of Force Policy
In early 2020, Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen took the Obama Foundation’s Reimagining Policing Pledge and committed to examining public safety policies through an equity lens. The Skokie Police Department’s Use of Force policy is reviewed annually. At Mayor Van Dusen’s request, the 2020-2021 review is being conducted by volunteer members of the Village’s Public Safety and Human Relations Commission, along with members of 16 invited community groups. Discussion meetings on the third Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. can be viewed live on the Village’s YouTube and cable television channels.
Village Staff Changes
Brian Baker Named Chief of Police
In November 2020, Skokie Village Manager John Lockerby appointed Brian Baker to the position of Skokie Police Chief. Baker, who has served as Deputy Chief since June 2014, succeeded retired Police Chief Anthony Scarpelli. Baker began his tenure with the Skokie Police Department in 1994, initially as a patrol officer, progressing to the ranks of sergeant and commander. In those roles, he led investigations, tactical intervention and special operations units for the department. Baker is an active leader in regional law enforcement initiatives. Since 2010, he has served as Team Commander for the Northern Illinois Police Alarm System Emergency Services regional SWAT team that encompasses 69 municipalities in five counties. He has extensive experience with regional terrorism training and communication, serving on several FBI task force groups and committees. He serves on the Anti-Defamation League’s Law Enforcement Advisory Committee, and led security operations for the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center’s opening in April 2009.
Baker holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Iowa State University. He has attended Northwestern University’s Schools of Police Staff and Command, Police Supervision and the University’s Executive Management Program. He has earned numerous awards and honors, including the Chief’s Award of Merit, a Special Service Commendation and a Joint Operations Award from the Chicago Police Department. He served in the United States Army for 23 years, entering service as a Second Lieutenant and retiring with the rank of Major. See more information about the Skokie Police Department.
Mike Charley Named Director of Health and Human Services
Effective November 16, 2020, Mike Charley began his tenure as Director of Health and Human Services for the Village of Skokie. For the past 17 years, Charley has been on staff with the Village of Oak Park Health Department, serving as the Public Health Director since 2016 after holding the positions of Acting Health Director and Environmental Health Supervisor. In late summer 2020, Skokie Health Director Dr. Catherine Counard resigned her position to become Medical Officer of the Office of Health Protection at the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Charley’s background also includes involvement in numerous public health programs that mirror those undertaken by the Skokie Health Department, such as tobacco cessation, rodent control, West Nile Virus response and more. He has secured and administered millions of dollars in grants throughout his public health career. The breadth of Charley’s experience includes expertise in environmental health, having served as a sanitarian early in his career before progressing to an environmental health supervisor. In these roles, he worked closely with food establishments and institutions on inspection issues, foodborne illness and complaint investigations. Charley holds a Master of Science degree in environmental management and a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental health. See more information about the Skokie Health and Human Services Department.