Here's a recap of our live coverage of this evening's Evanston City Council Administration and Public Works Committee meeting.
A packet with information on tonight's agenda items is available online.
In addition to approval of the city budget for 2017, a key item on the agenda tonight is a proposal to lease the city's former recycling center to Smylie Bros for a brewery.
Meeting was scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. It's actually getting underway at 6:13 p.m.
Minutes, payroll and bills approved.
A 3.1 – Purchase of insurance renewals for fiscal year 2017. Total cost $528K. Approved.
A 3.2 – Purchase of water treatment chemicals … five different vendors. Total ost $371K. Approved.
A 3.3 – First Night Evanston city contribution $5,000. City has done the same the past two years.
Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, asks about cost of police, fire, etc. services for the event.
City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says it's a city special event so there are no budget items for the group. Says the city costs for the services were under $5K last year.
Rainey says its "really bad financial statements" from the group. Says there's no detail about administrative costs … and no audited reports.
Bobkiewicz says city has hoped there won't be city support needed for the future. Says would like to get some direction from the council for future. Asks whether the proposal should go through the Arts Council.
Rainey says they should be commended for doing the project — do a great job with the money.
Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, picks up on the idea of running the proposal through the Arts Council for future years.
Approved… with sense that the proposal should go through the Arts Council in future years.
A 3.4 – Third quarter financial report for 2016. Revenue 78.5% of full year budget … expense at 74%. Approved.
A 4 – 2017 City Budget $311 million.
Public Comment … Barbara Janes from No Park Sale opposes spending $400K to repair the fog houses behind the lighthouse. Says agrees that the repairs need to be made — but "just not now." Says concerned that mold abatement isn't included in the project. Without that, it's a waste of taxpayer money, she says. Suggests moving summer classes from the fog houses to the Harley Clarke mansion.
Aldermen decide to hold discussion of budget detail until the full City Council meeting
Vote to advance the budget to the full City Council is unanimous.
A 5 -Thirty-one lease agreements for Noyes Cultural Arts Center studio spaces. Approved.
A 6 – Smylie Brothers lease of former recycling center at 2222 Oakton St.
Alderman Miller asks about the $850K parking lot cost.
Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons says there will be a lot of improvements — streetscaping as well as the parking space. Says belives that at 65 percent occupancy level the parking revenue will offset the cost of the parking space.
Says it includes parking for the animal shelter. Says will be metered parking available for James Park usage.
Miller says — to look at it another way — if the rebuilding of the parking lot was considered part of the lease — the city would not recover — from the rent and taxes and parking revenue — to recover the cost of the parking project.
Alderman Rainey says the recycling center was where the city hired a bunch of people who had no opportunities to recycle glass and paper and other stuff. Says Evanston was the only city in the state that did it. After a few years the project because economically unviable. Has been only used for storage for more than 15 years.
Says have soccer moms and gardeners lining Oakton — standing in the street to unload. Says any night during the summer there are no parking spaces around James Park. Says the parking lot will be for everybody — and will be a green, permeable lot.
Says it will also be for the sports dome and for the animal shelter.
Says Smylie Bros. could expand to Skokie instead. Says they'll pay $13K a month to the city. Nobody's ever paid us rent like this. And will pay taxes on the building. Says this is "the deal of the century." What more could the city ask for, she says.
It meets economic development goals. Says talking about the parking doesn't make any sense. Be thankful we have a business that wants to stay, and expand here.
Miller says wouldn't be providing the parking if weren't doing the brewery. Says had the same issue with Trader Joe's of providing parking at taxpayer expense.
Says won't see a return on the investment for the first four or five year.
Johanna Leonard, economic development director, says the parking lot will continue to be city-owned, even if Smylie Brothers were later to purchase the property. Has an option to do that after 10 years subject to City Council approval.
Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, says its an example of a good, active reuse. Says a built-up community like Evanston needs to do that and this is a terrific example of it. Says this will bring more retail activity to another area of the community — not just downtown.
Says the city is fortunate to have the opportunity to add more parking at James Park. Says animal shelter folks want more parking. Says sports dome also needs more parking.
Says Trader Joe's wasn't coming to Evanston at all — city had shown numerous sites. Had a rigid formula they follow — must be near another grocery chain, on a major artery, and x amount of parking.
So city bought the parking lot and provided the spaces — cost $2 million. Trader Joe's sales tax amount to $600K a year — says city would never have seen Trader Joe's except for the city's willingness to spend money on parking.
Says this is a perfect example of how we should spend our money.
Miller says we're kidding ourselves if we think this is for James Park. Says need to be honest with the taxpayers. Weren't discussing it before.
Rainey says it's an opportunity to do it now. But says discussions have been going on about the park, the sports dome and the animal shelter need for parking.
Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, says agrees with Miller that wasn't discussed before, but while Smylie Bros is the catalyst or buiding it — it does benefit the other people as well.
Rainey says it will be a fabulous opportunity to have a new business on Oakton.
Approved 4-1. Miller votes no.
A 7 – Authorizing city clerk to solemnize marriages. Approved.
A 8 – For Pita 1, 1926 Central. Approved
A 9 – For Dave's New Kitchen , 815 Noyes. Approved.
A 10 & A 13 – Changing hours for sale at Quad Indoor Sports, 2454 Oakton (from 10 p.m. to midnight as the closing time). and granting license.
Discussion ensues regarding whether should have two-drink limit for the Quad Sports site — because, unlike other liquor licensees in Evanston, the business doesn't offer full food service.
Business owner says will have some food service but not a full kitchen.
Rainey says its like Dance Center Evanston, which also doesn't have full food service either.
Owner says original intent was to limit to two drinks per trip to the concession stand.
Miller moves to strike the limit on service.
That's approved by the committee.
Braithwaite questions the $4,000 fee for the liquor license. Says another licensee up for approval tonight is only being charged $500.
Wynne says the $500 only authorizes sale one hour before performances (at Dance Center Evanston).
Miller says restaurants get charged $5,000.
Rainey suggests $2,500. That's approved 4-1. Holmes votes no.
As amended the item — A 10 — is approved unanimously.
And A 13 is approved unanimously.
A 11 & A 12 – Change of liquor license class for Stained Glass at 1735 Benson. Approved.
A 14 – Amending Class U liquor license (for Dance Center Evanston) to permit sale of alcohol as well as beer and wine. Approved.
A 15 – Revising definition of abandoned vehicles. Approved.
A 16 – Removing reserved parking and increased number of meters in city lot at 1621 Oak. Approved.
A 17 – Decreasing sewer user rates by 3 percent.
Richard Lanyon, chair of utilities commission, says commission supports proposals to decrease the sewer rate and increasing the water rate.
A 18 – Increasing water rate by 6 percent.
(Net result is no change in combined cost for water and sewer charges.
A 17 and A 18 approved..
Meeting adjourned at 7:22 p.m.
P&D meeting to start at 7:30 p.m.