In just over four weeks a team of workers is scheduled to start keeping downtown Evanston and other business districts clean.

Paul Zalmezak, the city’s economic development manager, told residents at a 1st Ward meeting Thursday evening that the half-dozen clean team members plus a supervisor will begin work on Monday, Nov. 14.

Paul Zalmezak.

“They’ll work five days, 40 hours a week, cleaning our business districts,” Zalmezak said.

Each worker, he said will have broom and dust pan and will sweep sidewalks and curb lines.

He said they’d also tackle tasks like removing “the dead pigeon at the curb next to Colectivo.”

Once they’re done with the sidewalk cleanup, Zalmezak said, they may have a special assignment each day — like cleaning stickers off light poles or removing all the gum stuck to the sidewalk.

City Council approved a one-year, $500,000 contract with New York City-based Streetplus to run the program on Sept. 12. The program is being paid for with federal American Rescue Plan Act funds.

Zalmezak said the team will start each day downtown, but then cover other business districts later in the day.

They’ll also be trained to call 311 to report issues like burned-out street lights, dead trees and rat burrows to prompt a response from other city crews.

They’ll be “additional eyes and ears to support all of us who live and work in Evanston,” Zalmezak added.

During the winter, he said, the new workers will clear snow from crosswalks at intersections. But, he added, clearing snow from in front of storefronts will remain the responsibility of property owners and their tenants.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Am I “missing something”? Aren’t these tasks the duty of a normally – functioning municipal government? Why do we have to hire some outfit from New York to perform this routine maintenance? Instead of an outside company being hired, why not choose a locally – based one? The Chicago – based CARA workforce agency has just such an excellent program, called “Clean Slate”, employing ex – offenders/addicts/homeless to get back on their feet and into the workforce; it’s very successful at re – integrating folks into the world of work and self – sufficiency. Contracting Clean Slate for this would have been a win – win for everyone. “Oh, well…”

    Here is some info on Clean Slate [I see that the City of Evanston has been one of their past “customers”]:

    “We do the dirty work that makes our city beautiful. Our crews see their work as more than a job: it’s an opportunity for their talents to shine. Every block swept clean or graffiti tag removed represents another step toward gainful employment for one, and a stronger community for all…”

    1. Hi Gregory,
      If you want to know more about the city staff’s rationale for recommending the contractor, you could read the information in the packet for the Sept. 12 council meeting. It’s item A9 and starts on p. 168.
      I suspect the reason for contracting out the project is that the it was believed to be cheaper — and quicker — than hiring and training a similar number of city employees.
      And I think it’s fair to assume the workers are being hired locally, not flown in from New York.
      “Normally functioning” municipal governments contract out a lot of services. For example, Evanston and many other communities in the Chicago area contract out trash hauling to private firms.
      None of that means this program will necessarily be a success — just that it doesn’t seem to be an obviously wrong-headed move, which seems to have been the thrust of your comment.
      — Bill

  2. Can the sports leagues have a clean team of their own? There is so much trash that has blown into the fences at Robert Crown Center. Better yet, teach the kids and parents to clean up after themselves.

  3. This is a good thing. I own a couple of businesses in the city and they have “clean crews” that work 9-5 Monday-friday. Keeps our neighborhood clean and it’s also ears/eyes on the ‘hood’ as well.

    Trust me – I LOVE bashing local gov’t spending when it’s bad, this isn’t one of them. Of course, this is my opinion. I am very glad to see my tax dollars going towards this.

    In the winter when we get snow dumped on us they will shovel the sidewalks and salt them. That alone is worth every penny. I rarely shovel my front sidewalk.

    Trust me, this is good for everyone in Evanston.

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