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City eyes shrinking advisory boards

Evanston’s city manager will ask aldermen tonight to consider consolidating or eliminating eight of the city’s 36 advisory committees, boards and commissions.

Perhaps the most interesting proposed change would consolidate two panels that have sometimes been at odds in their recommendations — the Plan Commission and the Preservation Commission.

Evanston’s city manager will ask aldermen tonight to consider consolidating or eliminating eight of the city’s 36 advisory committees, boards and commissions.

Perhaps the most interesting proposed change would consolidate two panels that have sometimes been at odds in their recommendations — the Plan Commission and the Preservation Commission.

The Plan Commission reviews major new development proposals in the city, while the Preservation Commission is charged with overseeing enforcement of the city’s ordinance designed to preserve designated landmark buildings and properties in the city’s four historic districts.

The package of proposals City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz will present to the City Council’s Rules Committee tonight also suggests combining:

  • The Arts Council and the Public Art Committee.
  • The Housing Commission and the Housing and Community Development Act Committee.
  • The Parking/Transportation Committee and the Taxicab Advisory Board.
  • The Playground and Recreation Board, the Ladd Arboretum Committee and the Lighthouse Landing Committee.
  • The Site Plan and Appearance Review Committee and the Sign Review and Appeals Board.

The proposal also calls for:

  • Reviewing and restructuring the Human Relations Commission.
  • Eliminating the Board of Examiners of Stationary Engineers.
  • Replacing the Energy Commission with a more broadly defined Utility Commission.

The proposed changes are in part an outgrowth of a three-year study completed last year conducted largely by the Evanston League of Women Voters. It reviewed operation of the city’s mostly citizen-volunteer-staffed panels and proposed a somewhat different and more limited set of modifications.

Even if all the proposed changes are adopted, Evanston will still have considerably more advisory boards than many neighboring towns, including Skokie, which has 15, and Wilmette, with 17.

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