Recap: Administration and Public Works Committee

Here's a recap of our live coverage of this evening's Evanston City Council Administration and Public Works Committee meeting at which aldermen considered hiring one firm to conduct the search for a new city manager and another to develop a strategic plan for the Parks Department. They also explored changing the rules for sidewalk snow removal.

The meeting is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. A packet with information on tonight's agenda items is available online.

Meeting called to order at 6:03 p.m.

Nobody signed up for public comment

Consent agenda

A1, A3 on consent

A4 - GovHR contract for executive search for city manager

Alderman Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward, says he thought aldermen had rejected the GovHR firm.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, says GovHR was by far the outstanding firm. Others were appallingly bad. GovHR was "head and shoulders" above the others.

Says not sure why some have a bone to pick against this organization, but we owuld have been shirking our duty to not choose them.

Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, says she didn't choose GovHR for this job. Says HR director didn't ask her opinion.

Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, said wanted a person of color and a woman on the committee selecting the firm -- says seems have a majority in support of GovHR. HAve had good candidates come from their work in the past. So will support the contract going forward.

Item taken off consent agenda.

A5 through A10 left on consent.

A11 - Contract with Berry Dunn McNeil & Parker LLC for Parks, Recreation and Community Services strategic plan

Off consent.

A12 through A18 left on consent.

A19 - Public safety drone grant

Off consent.

A-20 left on consent.

A21 - Purchase of 1829 Simpson St.

Being held

A22 - 1805 Church St. RFP/RFQ

Tina Paden offers public comment complaining about what she argues is lack of opportunity for public feedback. Says would like to see something else beside housing on the site.

Rue Simmons says its just a proposal at this point from a community partner that's come up with a thoughtful and viable plan. Has the financial capability to be responsive to the city's competitive process for developing the site. Says appreciate's the church coming up with a solution that provides more affordable and workforce housing.

Rainey says church will have to compete with other developers for the site. Is open to whoever has the qualifications.

Says will be an open process.

A23 through A25 left on consent

Consent agend approved.

A4 - GovHR contract for executive search for city manager

Approved 3-2. Suffredin and Fleming vote no.

A11 - Contract with Berry Dunn McNeil & Parker LLC for Parks, Recreation and Community Services strategic plan

Parks Director Lawrence Hemingway says $50K from good neighbor fund, rest from capital improvement funds.

Suffredin asks whether should be using bond funds for consulting studies?

Hemingway says last plan was done in 2001 and it was funded by capital improvement funds.

Fleming asks about parks scorecard -- says haven't updated the city's strategic plan. Wants more emphasis on which parks to repair versus policy goals and objectives.

Braithwaite says he's concerned about using bond money to fund the plan.

Rainey says the $127K consulting cost amounts to less than $2K for each of the city's 77 parks.

Rue Simmons says our park equipment is dated. Says have the opportunity to do better. Says the cost doesn't seem unreasonable.

Rainey says using the parks is free -- people have lots of fun -- should give everyone the best park experience we can.

Motion fails on a 2-3 vote. Briathwaite, Suffredin and Fleming vote no.

A19 - Public safety drone program

Related story.

Presentation

Fire Chief Brian Scott makes the presentation. Says hopes to have the program fully implemented by end of June.

Says plan to demonstrate the technology to the community to show its value.

Police Chief Demitrous Cook says will follow state law that details limits on surveillance.

Braithwaite says we don't have the luxury of not taking these things seriously  Appreciates the effort to get the grant.

Fleming says looking for more clarity on the regulations regarding drone use. Wants to get answers to a lot more questions moving forward.

Approved 5-0

A2 - Amazon credit card activity

Approved 4-0-1. Suffredin abstains.

APW1 - Snow and ice removal on sidewalks

Johanna Leonard, community development director, and Edgar Cano, public services bureau chief, do presentation on the snow problems.

Cano says ice storms require more staff and create additional problems that add to the cost of responding to storms.

Leonard says city code now only requires residents to remove snow when four inches or more has fallen.

Says get about the same number of complaints whether there's two inches or nine inches of snow -- if sidewalk isn't cleared, people aren't happy.

Says other nearby communities say have to remove any amount within 24 hours. Chicago requires it cleared even sooner.

Says now enforcement takes a lot of time.

Wants to require residents at corners to clear the crosswalks.

Braithwaite says would focus on targeting businesses and large residential buildings.

Fleming says concerned about the shovel the corner proposal.

Rainey says need to wrap up the meeting because of the late hour ... it's now 7:45 pm.

Meeting adjourned.

Planning and Development meeting to start at 7:55 p.m.

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