Here’s a recap of our live coverage of tonight’s Evanston City Council meeting.

A packet with information about tonight’s agenda items is available online.

Meeting called to order at 9:16 p.m.


Holiday tree pickup continues this month. Put ’em on the parkway.

No trash pickup Monday, Jan. 21, for MLK day 

Several MLK day events coming up this weekend. (And on NU campus Monday, Jan 28.)

Citizen comment

Junad Rizki objects to “giving away” money to City Lit theater group.

Jeff Smith says 1.7 million is an enormous commitment to a theater group. Says can’t imagine any theater group would have money to pay for that. Never seen so much money ready to fly out the door of this council chamber with so little financial backup for it. Says dramatic contrast in how this group and others are being treated. Says it’s all ad hoc, committing TIF funds that haven’t even seen yet.

Says the Chicago-Main TIF doesn’t generate free money — it takes money from other taxing districts.

Says doesn’t believe it meets the standard of being blighted to qualify as a TIF.

Carolyn Murray, 1930 Grey, thanks members of city staff for expressing condolences to her over the death of her son.

Says city needs strategic plan to combat violence.

Bennett Johnson, 708 Washington St., says he supports 1890 Maple project because it’s a worthwhile project (not just because he’s friends with some family members of the developer).

Says developer has committed to work with local minority contractors and unemployed tradesmen. Says having African American as key developer is important factor.

Says one of the reasons there is violence in the community is because of a lack of income to families. Says he was a juvenile probation officer and a high school teacher, so knows issues in community.

Need to have more jobs to help stabilize the black community.

Consent agenda

We’ll note items taken off the consent agenda.

Off consent:

  • Theater at 727-29 Howard 
  • Main Street TIF … off agenda until next meeting Jan 28.
  • Vacation rentals
  • Alden Estates special use amendment

Consent agenda approved.

Remaining items

Theater at 727-29 Howard

Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, says she opposed the project at the new $1.7 million project cost. Was OK with the original estimate of $600K. Says can’t support this much money on a single project on Howard when there’s still so much more to do.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, says she’s not comfortable with the price tag — especially when not clear whether the agreement with City Lit will work out. Says would like to see that agreement before funding the renovation work.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, says got experts to tell us how to build a small performing arts theater. Says are in negotiation with City Lit, which has been in business since 1979, says last year sold 6,000 tickets to their performances. Says they plan to have the new location open seven days a week. Believes they’re committed enough and motivated enough to be the theater.

But says there are plenty of other theater groups.

Says have restaurant proposed for 623 Howard. Have cocktail lounge next door already open that’s doing great business.

Says money in Howard-Ridge TIF has to stay on Howard Street.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, says no one advocates for her ward like Alderman Rainey does. Says she’d like nothing more than to see a theater on Howard Street. But thinks there’s more information that the council needs.

Suggests perhaps should approach Northwestern about participation in a theater of this kind.

Mayor asks city manager to describe a visit to NU officials.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says met about a year ago with the university president, was told the university is busy with its own buildings and didn’t see a role in supporting theaters outside of its campus.

Grover says she wants to know more about the other possible tenants for the space, other than City Lit.

Also wants to know more about how the project fits into the rest of the plans for the arts in Evanston.

Johanna Nyden, economic development coordinator, says has met with Chicago officials. Says large property is for sale on the Chicago side of Howard and Custer. Says work Evanston is doing has piqued the interest of developers on the Chicago side.

Says another vacant property on the Howard side of the 600 block in Evanston is being renovated for possible new users.

Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, says he’d like to support the project, but has a lot of unanswered questions from residents of his ward. Wants more information before voting.

Rainey says are finally getting inquiries about the use of the Sherwin-Williams space and other vacant spaces nearby.

Roll call … proposal fails 6-3.

Braithwaite, Holmes and Rainey vote yes.

Chicago-Main TIF items held for Jan 28 meeting

Vacation rentals

To hold workshop on a Saturday morning to discuss the issue with aldermen and residents.

Alden Estates

Amendments to special use permit

Approved unanimously

Call of the wards

Braithwaite — ward meeting the 3rd week of February (not 2nd week because that would be Valentines Day. Chicken and Waffles place to open in about two weeks. Says have hired 73 employees, of whom 83 percent are Evanston residents.

Holmes — Thanks to city staff for helping get the special event underway at the Chicken and Waffles restaurnat for the 100th anni. of her sorority. Crime and NSP2 updates at ward meeting.

Tendam — says Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 7p.m. at Three Crowns Park joint 6th and 7th Ward meetings — sewer upgrades and power upgrade issues.

Rainey — Wants to see panhandling ordinance amended to include residential locations. Also wants anti-soliciting ordinance.

Burrus — Says Ellen King plans to open bread bakery in 800 block of Dempster, looking forward to it.

Fiske — Hearing concerns from residents about dog beach…fences, dogs, and other things. Suggests workshop on the issues from folks who use the dog beach.

Council votes to go into executive session.

Public meeting ends at 10:48 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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