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

The meeting was scheduled to begin at 5:45 p.m. … and got underway a few minutes late.

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

5:48 p.m. – The rest of the committee members are waiting for the committee chair, Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, to arrive. They’ve been told she’ll be a few minutes late.

The committee tonight is expected to approve the purchase of additional parkway trees — some of them funded by private donations through an online crowd-funding program.

The committee will also review plans to spend $100,000 on new equipment for cable access channels and purchase a new voice over internet protocol phone system.

5:52 p.m.Meeting called to order by acting chair Delores Holmes.

Minutes approved.

Payroll approved. 

Vote on bills postponed.

A3.1 – Trees and planting services purchase … $57,055 … approved.

A3.2 – Front end loader repair service $33K contract from West Side Tractor Sales of Wauconda. Approved.

A3.3 – VoIP contract with Heartland Business Systems $68.8K contract. Approved.

A4 – Purchase of $100K in equipment for cable access channels from franchise fee funds. Approved.

Chair Rainey arrives and takes over.

Bills approved.

A5 – Single Audit for FY 2012 … of federal funds the city receives. Approved.

A6 – Sale of surplus vehicles. Approved.

A7 & A8 – Liquor license change as result of change of ownership of Flat Top Grill, 707 Church St.

Attorney for new owner says the new firm purchased the chain out of bankruptcy. No change in local management or staff anticipated.

Approved.

A9 – Liquor Control Regulation revisions.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, says the revisions make the code a lot more readable.

Corporation Counsel Grant Farrar says generally no changes in fees … but says there’s a trend toward restauranteurs either wanting to sell all types of liquor … or not selling any liquor at all. One consolidation of liquor classes would result in somewhat higher fees.

Says there’s no real rhyme or reason to the current fee schedule. Rainey says there was one — but she can’t remember it.

Rainey says should consider having fees vary depending on the size of the restaurant.

Farrar says could do that…or look at different rates for local and chain owners …or other possible variations.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, says he’s concerned about rates for catering — that they seem high, except for very large events.

Approved.

Snow parking fee discussion

Jim Maiworm from public works …  discusses possibility of increasing fines for towing.

Says hopes to be able to recoup city’s out-of-pocket costs.

Presents maps of  “snow towing hot-spots.”

Grover suggests that are only trying to cover costs of the towing with the fees. Don’t mean it to be a revenue generator.

Maiworm, pressed by Rainey, says he understands that forecasts call for a relatively average snow season this year.

Committee votes to recommend raising the fee for having cars relocated from $100 to $150. Proposal now goes back to staff … to prepare an ordinance for council action.

Proposed creation of Complete & Green Streets Ordinance

Public Works Director Suzette Robinson says the concept could lead to the city receiving more grant money for street projects.

Presentation from Susan Besson of the Environment Board makes presentation, saying …

“Complete Streets” meant to offer more balanced road system — rather than car-centric one. Meant to serve all users, regardless of how they trave.

About 350 communities have already adopted such ordinances.

Says hopes to have an ordinance ready for City Council consideration by the Nov. 11 meeting.

Grover says makes great sense to make this part of formal policies — says staff has been doing it informally for years.

Rainey says believes the mess on Davis Street is a crime. The condition now is almost criminal, she says, regardless of how good it may eventually look. Says valet parking doesn’t work now. Can’t ever do such a project ever again. Says she voted for it but had no concept of what it would involve.

“Why we are not being stormed by people living downtown, I don’t know,” she says.

Robinson says the Davis Street project is now 60 percent complete. Says this one was more challenging than the one on Church Street last year because there was much more utility work — including sewers and water main work.

Rainey says on weekend nights restuarnts donwtown had no water — says it’s been an absolute disaster.

Holmes says once it’s done the concerns will disappear. Says when have major utility work to do you have to tear up the streets.

Rainey says didn’t have to do it all at once.

Grover says the complete streets ordinance example from Cleveland looks like it’s not very hard to implement.

Robinson says the staffi is considering whether in future should to street projects in long stretches — as on Davis — or split into sections over several years — as has been done on Sheridan Road.

Wheel tax aka city sticker

Rickey Voss, parking manager, says plan is to phase out the physical sticker for 2014. Says makes it more efficient for residents — who don’t have to go out in middle of winter and put the sticker on their car.

Says will eliminate fraud problem — of people breaking into cars and removing stickers.

License plate recognition software for parking enforcement vehicles makes it possible to stop using physical stickers.

Will not eliminate residential parking stickers for 2014 … says hopes to do that in 2015.

City issues about 36,000 vehicle stickers a year.

Burrus asks about other uses … Voss says are looking at a resident prepay program for meter parking.

Marty Lyons, assistant city manager, says everybody will still get a paper form this year — but will be able to complete the registration/payment process online.

Meeting adjourned at 6:58 p.m.

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

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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