Neighbors to discuss Mayfair development options

Envisioning the future of the industrial corridor along the former Mayfair railroad right of way will be a major topic of discussion at the June meeting of Smith Park Neighbors.

The city is about to move planning for possible redevelopment of property along the corridor into high gear and has pre-qualified four firms to work on the project.

The city is trying to get the work done before a 120-day building permit moratorium imposed by the City Council expires on August 12.

Smith Park scheduled for renovation next year

The City of Evanston reportedly has set aside $440,000 to renovate Smith Park at Lyons Street and Ashland Avenue next year.

The city has been spending at a level at which it renovated parks on average only once every 18 years. The City Council is considering beefing up its Capital Improvement Program spending for parks to move to a 12-year cycle for park renovations.

Block party planned for Aug. 19

Smith Park Neighbors attending last Wednesday's group meeting decided to schedule the annual community block party for Saturday, Aug. 19.

Smith Park will be the center of activity for the party, and party planners anticipate only asking the city to close off Lyons Street in front of the park during the event.

The group discussed a number of possible activities for the party ranging from an appearance by the police department's McGruff the Crime Fighting Dog mascot to face painting and and possibly an appearance by a magician.

Passion for community service

Remarks at a reception Wednesday night honoring School District 65 principals and administrators ...

Although this is an evening of celebration, I think we would be remiss if we did not recognize that just seven hours ago, many of us here celebrated the life of a great volunteer, mentor, and contributor to the District #65 schools.

Services for Charles 'Chuck' Remen

Evanston businessman and community activist Chuck Remen died Friday at the age of 75. Mr. Remen served with distinction for six years on The Evanston Chamber board of directors, was involved in the Governmental Affairs Council and in other areas of the organization.

Canoe launch for the canal?

The Chicago Tribune reports today on efforts to clean up the Chicago River and the North Shore Channel – and the growing use of both for recreational boating.

Skokie has opened a boat launch on the canal just off Oakton Street.

Evanston has just leased land from the Metropolitan Water Resources District to expand Twiggs Park on the canal banks to Green Bay Road.

Jane Jacobs: An appreciation

Two days ago, an important voice, who challenged the status quo, died in Toronto, where she had lived. Jane Jacobs was a social critic who redefined and championed cities. Jacobs, who wrote the seminal work, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” in 1961, was a hero of mine and of many others who believe that urban centers like Evanston must be diverse, dynamic, and dense, in order to be successful. By congregating people and activities and promoting more social interaction, Jacobs offered prescriptions that questioned the often-destructive and popular urban renewal methods.

Fact patrol: The consent decree

The consent decree that ended Northwestern University's suit against the city over creation of the Northeast Evanston Historic District two years ago was back in the news last week.

Some residents charged at the City Council meeting that the university violated the consent decree this month when it paid $600,000 for a single family home at 1945 Orrington Ave.

The house in question. (County Assessor photo)

Inclusionary housing: Sticking it to newcomers

The Inclusionary Housing Ordinance our aldermen are considering would stick buyers of new condos in Evanston with the bill for the loss of affordable housing here, while all property owners reap the profits from the rising home values that created the affordability issue.

Proposed Bee Ban

Evanston's Health and Human Services is already proposing a ban on beekeeping in Evanston, and the Monday, May 1st meeting has not even convened...My initial contact with the City of Evanston regarding beekeeping showed me how little was understood about honeybees and their habits when I was given erroneous information regarding permits and regulations.

Evanston needs stronger affordable housing ordinance

Remarks before the City Council Planning and Development Committee meeting Monday night:

I want to make it clear this evening that I support the alternative proposals of the Housing Commission regarding the set aside percentage, the fee-in-lieu option, the affordability period and allowing not-for-profits to purchase inclusionary units. However, I also wish to raise other issues about the ordinance, dated 3/22/06 to which I will make reference.

Inclusionary housing plan won't solve the problem

The Inclusionary Housing Ordinance our aldermen will consider Monday won't solve Evanston's housing affordability problem. It seems that, at most, it might solve 10 percent of it.

The draft ordinance says the council has concluded, after studying a complicated state formula, that the share of housing units in town that are affordable dropped from 25.9 percent to 19.1 percent between 2000 and 2005.