A Navy veteran originally from Michigan, Ron Kinn settled down in West Lakeview after he was decommissioned at Great Lakes Naval Base. After he met and married his wife, they soon moved to Roscoe Village in 2000 and he opened up Skyline Insurance Agency, an independent broker, at 2302 W. Belmont Ave. Despite a recent battle with cancer, Ron has stayed active in the community, most recently becoming the President of the Roscoe Village Chamber of Commerce.
We caught up with Ron last week and asked him five questions.
1. What’s your favorite spot in the neighborhood?
I don’t have any favorite spot in the neighborhood. It depends on the time of day. For breakfast I’ve been hitting Nohea Cafe a lot. The weekend I go to the Village Tap a lot. My wife and I love to go to John’s Place. There’s a wide variety. No one spot fills the need. There’s lots of places to go. Kitch’n, Volo, Four Treys.
2. What’s the goofiest thing you’ve seen in the neighborhood?
I don’t think I’ve seen too many things I’d categorize as goofy. What I find interesting is around Halloween time, just the wackiest outfits. People out having a great time and the whole neighborhood is interesting. That’s probably the goofiest time of the year. The young single people tend to have a great time and let loose.
3. If there’s something you would change about the neighborhood, what would it be?
Unfortunately it’s something that won’t change until the economy improves. The biggest thing that wears on people in the neighborhood with businesses are the vacancies. It detracts from everybody because so much of the streets are unoccupied. Belmont has been hit pretty hard. We’ve had some new businesses step up recently. Roscoe has quite a few vacancies as well.
I would think the number one thing I’d like to see change is for the economy to start thriving and to get some new startups going. But it’s difficult between the lending and everything else out there.
The infrastructure with the sewers is pretty bad. This morning at 6:30 a.m. they were going. That’s a downside. It’s temporary but it’s pretty active in the Village right now with the sewers getting replaced.
4. What’s different since you first got here?
The biggest difference I’ve seen is the surge of families. It’s gotta be the place to raise your kids in the city. Interestingly we had a block party on my street a couple months ago and the number of families that rolled out of their house for the event was amazing. They took a count of the actual number of kids on our block, and it’s not that big of a block. Sixty kids. Sixty.
Any time you drive around the Village, you see all the kids. It’s become one of the few areas in the city that has the space, has the schools. And the schools have greatly improved. Audubon just won an award. And Jahn school is great. You have a lot of private schools. Public schools are pretty good. So even though Roscoe Village is not the cheapest, it’s probably a lot more affordable than other areas of the city. I think you get a better bang for your buck.
It’s become a community. A village within the city.
5. Oysterfest or Retro on Roscoe?
You know I’m involved with the Roscoe Village Chamber of Commerce. I’m actually the president now, so I have to be somewhat prejudiced, I love Retro, I do. And I love Oysterfest.
If I had to choose one of the two I would obviously go with Oysterfest. But our festival for the Chamber is the Roscoe Village Burger Fest on Belmont. That has really come into it’s own in the past couple of years. It was the Belmont Arts and Music Fest. Unfortunately the arts side never really took off.
I’m on the committee for that as well. Through a lot of brainstorming, we came up with the burger theme. I have to give a lot of credit to Mike Green at Village Tap, he’s the one that really put it out there. We ran with it and took a lot of risk and knock on wood it’s turned out pretty well for us. That is by far, the number one fundraising event for the Chamber.
This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.