Evanston aldermen reacted coolly Wednesday Wednesday to a Park Board plan to limit the City Council’s power to dispose of city park land.

“I have a problem with this,” said Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, at the Human Services Committee meeting.

“Speaking for myself, I can’t imagine I would approve of any park land being sold,” Fiske said, but she added that the proposal would  tie the hands of the council “in a way that’s not entirely appropriate.”

The Park and Recreation Board’s proposal would require that before the city could sell any park land for development it would have to acquire another suitable parcel of land for park use at no net cost to the city.

But Fiske said, “I can’t imagine where we would get a suitable piece of property if it was for sale” given the high cost of land in a built-up community like Evanston.

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said “I think this is overstepping the authority of the Parks and Recreation Board. This is a council responsibility.”

She added that while she wouldn’t want to sell off park land she didn’t want to “tie the hands of future councils.”

Park Board member Larry Raffel said the board wasn’t trying to put itself in a position to veto a transaction, but wanted to be able to make recommendations before any sale might take place.

But Holmes said that the board is free to make recommendations now.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, said she shared the park board members’ concern about the potential loss of park land and green space.

She suggested redrafting the proposed ordinance to require that the board review a proposed sale, without the provision that would require a land swap.

Committee members agreed to discuss the issue again at their next meeting on Oct. 3.

Related story

Parks panel wants to block land sales

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. sale of land

    i don't know if this is in reference to selling the property on the lake that currently houses the evanston art center or some other property.  however, i feel that the alderman need to realize that many evanstonians are not if favor of this sale.  once a piece of lakefront property like that is sold, it will be next to impossible to acquire something equally as beautiful!!!!  why would evanston even consider selling such a jewel on the northshore?  balance your budgets like the rest of us, don't spend money you do not have.  i see so much waste.  too much signage suddenly everywhere, costly and unattractive.  no new artwork is needed.  do we really need to build a new school, when we're are in debt?  learn to differentiate need from want, do only those things that MUST be done, once the budget is balanced….then you can add the wants.  just one person's opinion.

  2. Well, DUHHHH! James Park has

    Well, DUHHHH!

    James Park has been nibbled away it steadily in the 38 years I've lived in south Evanston.  First came the recycling center–a seemingly good idea in its time.  For the past decade or so, however,  that building and its parking lot have become a garage for the City, housing, at various times, city vehicles, trees for planting (at least they're green), garbage vehicles, etc.  The upshot:  A net loss of green space.

    Then there's the Levy Center, an example of an efficient use of parkland.  This brainchild of Ann Rainey's has enhanced the area and, I expect, improved the health of Evanstonians despite its destruction of more of James Park's green space.

    Meanwhile, the city has done between little and nothing to improve the remaining green space in James Park.  Yes, they've upgraded the ballfields.  However, instead of planting real trees (except within the ball field area) they've planted twiglets which have either died or lived stunted lives, not much larger or greener than they were when planted 5 or 6 years ago.

    Put the City more in charge of park land?  Hell, no.  Wrest even more control from them?  Definitely.  Establish a citizens committee for the parks (assuming one does not already exist), absolutely.  Plant some real trees in James Park?  PLEASE!

    Judy Fradin

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