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City may sunset its parking panel

City staff suggests other groups could better handle the Transportation and Parking Committee's work.

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Evanston's city-owned Maple Avenue garage.

Evanston city staff will ask members of the city’s Transportation and Parking Committee tonight whether they favor dissolving the group and turning its work over to other city committees.

In a memo to committee members, Community Development Director Johanna Nyden and Interim Administrative Services Director Luke Stowe note that the committee’s recommendations regarding parking already are sent on to the Administration and Public Works Committee before being acted on by the full City Council.

They also note that few members of the public have participated in recent meeting of the committee and suggest that issues related to transportation policy might be better addressed by other groups, including the Plan Commission, the Environment Board, the Equity and Empowerment Commission and the Planning and Development Committee.

The current committee was originally formed as the Parking Committee in 1993 when the city was faced with severe issues regarding the deteriorated condition of its original downtown parking garage on Sherman Avenue.

That garage was eventually demolished and replaced with a new one as part of the Sherman Plaza development.

The city now owns three downtown garages and over the years the committee has focused on trying to assure appropriate oversight of garage operations to make sure they are properly maintained to avoid deterioration and generate sufficient revenue to cover the maintenance costs.

The committee picked up its broader mandate regarding transportation issues in 2015.

The staff memo suggests having city staff reconvene a technical advisory committee of city staff that would meet with stakeholder groups to discuss transportation policy issues and also create public outreach events, once the pandemic is over, to solicit feedback.

The memo also suggests that eliminating the Transportation and Parking Committee could save staff time that could be better utilized for other purposes.

The committee is currently composed of three aldermen, Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward; Eleanor Revelle, 7th Ward, and Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, plus four non-aldermen appointed to the panel by the mayor.

The virtual meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. tonight.

The dissolution issue is to be voted on by the City Council Rules Committee at its Sept. 9 meeting.

Evanston has an unusually large number of boards committees and commissions, and eliminating any of the roughly 40 groups has proved to be a difficult and highly contentious issue for years.


Update 11 a.m. 8/27/20: The four Transportation and Parking Committee members present for Wednesday night’s meeting appeared to generally support the staff plan to dissolve the committee.

But Transportation and Mobility Coordinator Jessica Hyink told committee members that the September meeting of the Rules Committee has been canceled, so the issue won’t move forward to the Rules Committee until its October meeting.

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