Here’s a recap of our live coverage of this evening’s Evanston City Council Administration and Public Works Committee meeting.

A packet with information on tonight’s agenda items is available online.

Meeting called to order at 5:49 p.m.

Minutes approved.

Payroll approved.

Bills and credit cards approved.

Public comment

Jon  Arndt says old theater seats are very uncomfortable and expensive to repair. Favors proposal on the agenda to spend $47K on new seats for the theater at the Noyes Center. 

Rob Andleman, 1218 Asbury, Next board chair says theater has employed thousands of performers over the year and attracted 8,000 patrons to performances last year.

Virginia Beatty raises concerns about the planned greenhouse addition at the Ecology Center. Says it’s not really a greenhouse and there’s need for more classroom space there. Says there are a lot of problems with the proposal and it’s very expensive.

Fire hydrant painting contract with Alpha Paintworks of Chicago. $28K. Approved.

Sidewalk replacement contract with Schroeder & Schroeder of Skokie for $157K. Staff says work will start in September, after people who’ve requested new sidewalks are informed of the 50/50 cost. Approved.

Recycling truck purchase from R.N.O.W of West Allis, Wis., for $233K. Approved.

Noyes Theater seating replacement contract with Larson Equipment and Furniture of Palatine for $47K. Includes removal of old seats and reconfiguration of the space. Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, and Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, say they’ve both been at the theater and agree the seats need replacing. Appoved.

Ecology Center Greenhouse Addition contract with Construction Consulting & Disbursement Services of Northbrook for $175K. Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, asks whether — if it’s not going to really be a greenhouse — do need to have it designed the way it is proposed?

Doug Gaynor, parks director, says the project started two years ago in the capital plan as a “greenhouse” but has evolved since then into more of a multi-purpose space.

Bob Dorneker, assistant parks director, says it will be more like a sunroom space — where kids can work with nature plants and animals — and do other ecology-related projects. 

Grover says have to realize what bad shape the space is in now — needs to be rebuilt — and making it a multi-purpose space, as proposed, will make it more useful.

Burrus says it seems to be a waste of funds. Cost per square foot for the 415 square foot spaces works out to $422.

Stephanie Levine, of parks staff, says the space doesn’t really include specialty greenhouse features. It’s typical construction features. Says the unfinished concrete floor will be sloped to the drain. Will have hose bib for hose to wash down the floor.

Burrus says expense seems to be way too much for a classroom space.

Levine says washrooms in Civic Center cost in the same per-square-foot range. Burrus says that’s not comparable.

Says to meet the city’s MWEBE standards are paying $40K more for the project, because the low bidder wasn’t able to meet the minority, women and Evanston-based business requirements.

Levine says the project requires upgrades to the building’s HVAC system — or the existing classroom won’t be inhabitable during the summer.

Public Works Director Suzette Robinson suggests going back to reconsider the design of the project — which might require rebidding the project  — and that would probably delay construction of the project until next year.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, suggests giving staff a chance to look at revisions to the project in time for the next council meeting.

Committee votes to do that and hold the project in committee until the next meeting.

Grandmother Park agreement amendment. Burrus says the park is not needed. Objects to giving $50K from the Economic Development Fund to the project. Says a lot of the privately-donated funds are just pledges — not cash in hand. Says seem to be continuing to throw money at a project that is not needed.

Rainey says the funds for the project have already been approved — the proposal is just to change the contractor.

Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons says most of the outstanding “pledge” money is from the city.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, congratulates the group for raising $200K in a very difficult economic climate … thanks other groups for participating in the project.

Grover says that in 2010 the city made a deal with Grandmother Park Initiative and now is pleased to see that the project is getting underway.

Rainey says has no problem acing out contractors from other communities — but sees no reason to not have a bidding process. Says if Nature’s Perspective is the only bidder, then OK. Says concerned that might be able to get another Evanston bidder for less.

Braithwaite says goal was to use Nature’s Perspective, which is in the neighborhood.

Alderman Holmes says she favors going out to bids for the work as well.

Braithwaite amends the proposal to require that park group to provide three bids for the project, which means the proposal is held in committee for tonight. Committee votes 4-1 in favor of that path. Burrs votes no.

Prevailing wage resolution. Approved.

Three-way stop at Lake Shore Boulevard and Hamilton Street. Burrus asks why alderman Wynne can get such a stop sign in her 3rd Ward and she can’t get one in hers at Washington Street and Dewey Avenue.

Robinson says she can do it.

Grover says Wynne told her it’s needed to address the one-way seasonal redirection of traffic there.

Approved.

Sewer rehab loan from IEPA $1.9 million. Approved.

Hilton Orrington liquor license change with new ownership. Approved.

Meeting adjourned at 6:53 p.m.

Planning and Development Committee meeting to start at 7:15 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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