Evanston aldermen Monday night failed to reach agreement on two issues involving the city’s relationship with Northwestern University.

Lincoln Street beach

Several aldermen complained about terms of a staff-negotiated 10-year agreement with Northwestern to govern operation of the Lincoln Street beach at the north end of the university campus.

Ownership of the beach is in dispute, with the state Department of Natural Resources expected to issue an opinion regarding ownership sometime in the next few months. It could say it belongs to the state, or to the university, City Attorney Michelle Masoncup said, although some aldermen are convinced the city should gain title to it.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, proposed limiting the agreement to two years, and aldermen Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, and Eleanor Revelle, 7th Ward, said they believed any deal should last only for this year.

Revelle also objected to a provision in the agreement that appears to limit public access to the beach itself to the hours when lifeguards, to be paid by the university, would be on duty.

She said other Evanston beaches are available to residents in the morning and evening hours and outside of the summer swimming season, and the Lincoln Street beach should have the same open access.

Masoncup said she believed she could negotiate terms with the school that would expand the hours the sand was accessible to match the other city beaches, and aldermen voted to hold the agreement until their next regular meeting on July 22.

Meanwhile the beach remains in operation this summer under an informal agreement between the city and school and beach token holders have access while lifeguards are on duty.

Liquor sales at arena

At Revelle’s request aldermen voted 6-3 to table an ordinance that would create a new liquor license category tailored for use at Northwestern University’s Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Revelle said the plan to sell liquor was closely related to the school’s pending request to change the arena’s zoning to permit up to seven professional sports or entertainment events annually at the 7,000 seat arena and shouldn’t be acted on until that measure was also before the City Council.

The zoning change is scheduled for a hearing before the Plan Commission next month and will likely reach the City Council in September or October.

Some neighbors living near the school’s athletic complex have objected to both plans, citing fears of more traffic congestion and of drunken fans disrupting the neighborhood.

Creation of the liquor license category would require a simple majority vote of aldermen. If the mayor, as liquor commissioner, then recommended issuing a license to the school for the arena, it would require a two-thirds vote of aldermen to reject issuance of the license. They mayor has recommended approval of creating the new liquor license category.

Related stories

Vote set on liquor sales at arena (7/5/19)

Council to vote on Lincoln Street beach deal with NU (7/5/19)

Neighbors complain about NU arena events plan (6/26/19)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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