Evanston alders Monday night approved plans to buy security barriers designed to prevent cars from crashing into public events.
But in doing so they cut the staff request for 60 of the Meridian mobile barriers to just 24.
The city tested the barriers at the Fountain Square tree lighting ceremony in December.
Meridian describes the devices as “the barrier of choice for Hostile Vehicle Mitigation,” saying they permit pedestrian access and can be easily moved to provide for emergency vehicle access.
Recent incidents — including one in Waukesha, Wisconsin, in which a driver sped through the town’s annual Christmas parade in 2021, killing six people and injuring more — have led to increased concerns about visitor safety at such public events.
In response Evanston has been parking dump trucks and other large city vehicles at the edge of some public events.
But those vehicles don’t present a very appealing sight for event visitors.
Evanston Police Sgt. Scott Sophier, in response to questions Monday, said it would take at least 18 barriers to secure Fountain Square — and that more would be required for events that spread over a larger area of downtown or elsewhere in the community.
The barriers are typically transported to event sites on trailers that each hold eight of the barricades, and Parks Director Audrey Thompson suggested that if the city bought just 24 barricades it could get by with just two trailers, because then only two employees would be required to deploy the barricades, even though one would have to make two trips.
Buying the 60 barriers and related equipment would have cost about $613,000. Sophier said the smaller bundle of equipment approved by the Council would cost about $303,000.
Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) initially suggested cutting the size of the purchase, and Ald. Devon Reid (8th) said he would only support a much smaller buy than staff had proposed.
He said the city could spend money on “a whole host of things” that would make the community safer and that the proposal reflected thinking that “the world is a much scarier space than it really is.”
But Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) said the barricades are a good solution to a very complex problem.
She said the city needed something that’s movable and quickly deployable and isn’t a snow plow or dump truck.
All six of the alderpersons present voted to cut the size of the purchase and then approve the smaller buy.
I saw this on Twitter from a tweet by @JohnEva80776257
Did we bid this out? We are paying $12,625 per barrier. Other cities are paying much less for the same product from the same company.
The city of Kingston NY paid $160,000 for 18 of the same barriers last month. That’s $8,900 per barrier. Here’s the proof — https://tinyurl.com/mptrfu7t
Last month the Feds got 8 barriers for $83,795 or $10,475 per barrier. Here’s the proof — https://tinyurl.com/yenu5wn2
And the city of Green Bay got 24 barriers for $237,000 or $9,875 per barrier. Here’s the proof –https://tinyurl.com/yvxx2mbm
An easy calculation using the average price paid by other governments yields savings to E-Town of just over $3,000 per barrier or more than $72,000.
I’d like an explanation. Really I would! I would like the city manager or the mayor to post a comment here and tell all of us simple tax-paying citizens why the city is spending $72,000 more than it needs to.
Good comments Paul. This question should be posted directly to the city Council!
Paul – you can email the city manager directly and he’ll respond. He responded to comments here in the past and said “my door is always open”. You should send this to him and see if you get a response.
Ald. Devon Reid (8th) said he would only support a much smaller buy than staff had proposed.
He said the city could spend money on “a whole host of things” that would make the community safer and that the proposal reflected thinking that “the world is a much scarier space than it really is.” That was 2 days ago, when Mr. Reid made a sweeping statement without backing it up with any facts. Last night at 8 PM a man was murdered at Clark Street Beach. Yep, making the city safe for folks to be at the beach would be great.
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