Evanston’s Economic Development Committee this evening recommended the City Council approve five $10,000 grants to improve neighborhood business districts.

The Central Street Merchants Association asked for $10,000 to begin development of a streetscape improvement plan.

Ald. Edmund Moran, 6th Ward, said a full streetscape improvement project could cost a thousand times that amount.

Ald. Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, said the city several years ago hired a consultant to develop a streetscape improvement program for the Chicago Avenue corridor, much of which is in her ward.

The consultant cost $75,000, Ald. Wynne said, “and we now have a prototype block in place and are gradually funding the rest of the project.”

Committee members urged the merchants to work with city staff on developing the overall streetscape project, but they approved the $10,000 to be used for initial improvements.

The Dr. Hill Business Association won approval for a plan to landscape the triangular parcel of city-owned land bounded by Green Bay Road, Noyes Street and Ashland Avenue.

John Leineweber said the group hopes eventually to be able to erect a sculpture at the site honoring Dr. Elizabeth Hill, the director of the former Evanston Community Hospital, for whom the association is named.

The Chicago/Dempster Merchants Association won approval for plans to replace 14 deteriorated planters in the business district and create a four-color brochure promoting the neighborhood.

The Evanston Community Development Corporation won approval for brochures and a web site to promote the Church/Dodge community.

The Main Street Merchants Association won approval for a proposal that envisions adding planters in front of stores and banners on light posts.

The proposals are scheduled for review by the full City Council on Monday, April 11.

The committee also scheduled a special meeting for 7:30 p.m., Thursday, April 6, to review plans for the Bristol high-rise apartment development on Howard Street.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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