Boarding Up Ahead of NATO

Thursday, May 17, 2012 - 1:01pm

Many Chicago businesses are putting extra security in place ahead of expected protests.

Security precautions are becoming more visible, in the form of fencing and plywood, in the days leading up to the NATO Summit in Chicago.

The sidewalks surrounding McCormick Place, where much of the official business will be taking place, began looking like a fortress overnight Wednesday, as crews started assembling the anti-scale fencing, mandated by the Secret Service.

Palettes of fencing also turned up near Grant Park.

"Just as I was riding my bike up here, I was like, 'Here we go. Here come the fences,'" said South Loop resident Geomele Moya. "It makes me feel secure. It makes me feel the city has a plan. And I’m not intimidated by it. I feel it’s a real exciting event for the city and they have a good idea of how to make sure things go smoothly."

Another passer-by, however, looked upon the mass of security equipment with scorn, saying it made her feel like she was on "lockdown."

In some cases, it won't be metal fences protecting buildings, but plywood.

Busy Bee Board Up covered the windows of Aniko Salon and Spa.

"All week. We're busy. We got accounts set up all week." said supervisor Dennis Byrd.

The salon won't be open for business during the summit.

"We chose to shut down in the best interest of the safety of our guest and employees," said owner Sally Fernandez. "Maybe nothing will happen, and that would be terrific, but we just wanted to be cautious."

J.C. Restoration Inc. signed work agreements with roughly 40 downtown buildings to re-secure and board up windows shattered by protesters.

"The commercial real estate community downtown is definitely fearful of what could happen" said client advocate Mike Collins.

The company pre-staged supplies and manpower, a luxury Collins said he doesn't typically get.

"Usually when these catastrophes happen where multiple buildings are calling on our services all the same time, it tends to be weather-related, so we have haven't been able to prepare to the extent we're able to prepare for this. So we feel very ready to take care of what may happen."

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