Here’s a recap of our live coverage of this evening’s Evanston City Council meeting at which aldermen are scheduled to take action on a plan to sell the city’s former recycling center for conversion to a climbing gym.
A packet with information on tonight’s agenda items is available online.
Mayor says have people who live in Evanston and work for the federal government who aren’t getting paid. Says the city manager will have an update on that tonight.
Mentions that Bishop Carlis Moody Sr. of Faith Temple Church died last week. Will be a memorial service on Thursday and services on Friday.
Mentions upcoming Martin Luther King day events in Evanston.
City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz introduces Sarah Flax from the community development department on impact of the federal government shutdown.
Flax says the shutdown is really confusing. Only parts of the government are shut down — nine agencies.
Biggest impacts …
SNAP (food stamp) and WIC (food benefits for women, infants and children) will be released for February on Jan. 24. Says will be challenging from a scheduling standpoint.
Says ETHS expects to be reimbursed as some point for lunch program benefits.
Says Housing and Urban Development contracts for project based subsidized housing program contracts aren’t being renewed.
Says seems to have funding through February, but after that likely to be problems.
Funds for senior housing and housing for the disabled come directly from HUD — says there’s nobody at HUD for agencies to submit requests for reimbursement to.
Other housing programs also likely affected.
Says unclear how many federal employees there are in Evanston. American Community Survey says there are 3,300 government workers — but that’s for all levels of government.
Says the city’s general assistance office will be able to check whether federal employees who inquire are eligible for emergency aid, food pantries are also available — and don’t have paperwork restrictions.
Mike Vasilko opposes sale of city property at 1729 Dodge and 2222 Oakton.
Calls for halt to construction of Robert Crown Center.
Doreen Price suggests video coverage of affordable housing steering committee and housing and homelessness committee meetings.
Shawn Jones objects to spending on mayor’s discretionary projects fund.
Junad Rizki objects to sale of 2222 Oakton property. Says city is not getting enough money for it.
Clare Kelly says doesn’t think residents understand the cost of the Robert Crown Center project.
Ray Freedman says council should address comments from people who speak at public comment sessions
End of public comment
Mayor details how allocated funds from NU’ Good Neighbor program. Related story.
Says will detail in future how remaining $150K from the program will be allocated.
Says the five year program, now in its fourth concludes with funds to be distributed in 2020.
Special order of business; City Council Goals
City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz suggests going to a two-year program for goals.
Suggests adopting a program like that used by Santa Monica, California, to measure progress toward achieving goals.
Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, says its been confusing how city goals are used. Says don’t seem to think about them all the time, “except when we come into the building and see that pretty poster.”
Says economic development needs to be our top goal. Says decisions on spending and revenue raising affect residents every day.
Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, says goals are extremely important. Says should have a special meeting on them.
Says have 500 page agenda and a 200 page executive session agenda tonight.
Says seems like bad planning — too much to add. It’s 10 to 9 and just getting around to it.
Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, suggests having a special meeting in the aldermanic library to discuss. Says don’t need to have a facilitator for the session this time.
Aldeman Eleanor Revelle, 7th Ward, says she sees stablilizing long term city finances as the overarching goal. Would like to have manager and staff come up with some of the strategies to implement the goals. Agrees with manager about integrating the CARP plan into the rest of the goals.
Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, says if wait too long will be half way through the year before setting the goals. Wants to have discussion sooner rather than later. Need to think more about how to measure progress on the goals.
Fiske says there’s a lot of interest in investing in Evanston — and should make better decisions and have a better model for forecasting where we’re going in the future.
Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, wants a greater focus on workforce development and increasing support for local businesses. Says that can help respond to affordable housing and violence prevention. Also need more support for young parents.
Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, says she much appreciates the Santa Monica examples.
Agreement is to meet on Wednesday, Jan 30, at 6 p.m. in aldermanic library.
Items A 2, A 3, A 16, A 17, A 18, A 21 and A22 off consent agenda.
Items P 1 and P 3 held in committee.
Consent agenda approved.
A 2 – Bills List
City Clerk Devon Reid offers to respond to questions about grant writing service.
Alderman Braithwaite says great idea, shows innovation. Wants to have city manager report back at next APW meeting.
Discussion postponed until then.
Bills list approved.
A 3 – Amazon credit card activity
Approved. Suffreden abstains.
A 16 – Taxicab stand … removing the one on Howard Street
Given final approval with suspension of the rules at request of Alderman Rainey.
A 17 – Certain trucks to park in residential areas
Rainey says a lot of people are using four-door pickups as famiy vehicles. Change would let them park in Evanstion-resident passenger vehicle parking zones.
Given final approval with suspension of the rules at request of Alderman Rainey.
A 18 – Sidewalk cafes ordinance update
Would let DAPR approve most sidewalk cafes, unless were serving alcohol
Wilson asks for appeal provision to Council of DAPR denies the permit.
City manager says can add that before final approval at next meeting.
Approved for introduction.
A 21 – Authorization to negotiate sale of 2222 Oakton St.
Rainey says the buyer is a very aggressive shopping center and real estate developer. Says it will open up the opportunity of expansion to additional properties nearby
Says the offer of $1M shouldn’t dazzle the council The property shouldn’t be sold.
Says should negotiate a lease to own at the very least.
Would love to have the developer invest elsewhere in Evanston — but shouldn’t be turning over land next to a public park.
Suggests lease-to-own and approval of rock climbing as special use.
City attorney says ordinance could be rewritten to incorporate that.
Wilson says three year lease doesn’t guarantee a return on the capital investment. It’s like fake news. Unless give the a guaranteed option to purchase. But that effectively gives them an out afte three years.
Masoncup says it’s similar to the deal the city did with Peckish Pig.
Wilson says — that still gives them an option to get out of the deal in three years. Then we get to take over a climbing gym to go along with Harley Clarke.
Fleming asks about the parking lot. Says she doesn’t see anything that says the city is planning to build the parking lot.
City manager says the proposal is to negotiate a sale of the property — no discussion in the proposal tonight of the parking lot idea that had been part of the Smylie Bros. proposal.
Wilson says city manager could negotiate a deal that amounted to a lease with option to purchase — with the existing language in the ordinance.
Andy Steinem of Clark Street Real Estate says not trying to do anything other than provide a benefit to the city of Evanston — putting the property back on the tax rolls and produce sales tax. There’s no world class climbing gym like this in the north suburbs. Says it will support other retail and restaurant businesses in the area.
Says a lease proposition would not be favorable in the capital markets — it’s not financeable. Says there’s no tricks up our sleeve. Says has a long term relationship with First Ascent.
Rainey proposes amendment for three-year-lease-to-own … similar to properties on Howard Street … and that the parking lot will be a public pay-station parking lot for all to use.
Rue Simmons seconds.
Wilson says he views that as a subversive way to kill the deal. Very clever, extremely creative. If it’s changed to what Rainey wants you’ve already killed the deal.
Rainey’s amendment fails on a 6-3 vote. Rainey, Fiske and Rue Simmons voted for it.
Rainey says are selling out a public building that sits on the edge of a park to a developer. Says she’s mortified that this council would do that. “I think you’re going to regret it, I really do.”
Revelle says will have another chance to vote on it when city manager comes back with the results of the negotiations. Says hopes zoning change won’t be part of the proposal, since that wouldn’t be required for the rock climbing gym.
Fiske says she apprciates Rainey’s concerns. Says is concerned about what happens to public land when it’s redeveloped.
Ordinance is approved on a 6-3 vote (The minimum required for an ordinance involving sale of public property.
A 22 – Resident only parking districts
Jill Velan, parking division manager, says city code allows for someone who lives within the district — if they have a vehicle that’s not registered here — to purchase a permit to be able to park on the block.
Suffredin wants parking limited to residents of Evanston.
Ordinance approved 8-1. Wilson votes no.
Call of the Wards
Suffredin suggest moving wheel tax payment deadline to July, rather than December.
Revelle has ward meeting coming up Jan. 24.
Fleming has ward meeting at Jan. 24.
Fiske asks for report on the DAPR committee. Not sure whether should be having votes at DAPR.
Wynne … ward meeting Jan. 24.
Wilson … community meeting about Robert Crown coming up on date TBD in February.
Rue Simmons praises Bishop Moody who served community for 64 years … and also was an international missionary.
Council votes to go into executive session at 10:10 p.m.