After two months of negotiating with the city, the City Council has finally approved an Evanston resident’s plans to start a daycare center downtown.
Since it gained the approval of the zoning board in May, Evanston resident Lori Kiser-McCourth’s application to open a daycare center at 526 Davis St. has been tied up by concerns over how parents would drop off and pick up their children and the issue came up again at Monday’s council meeting.
Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said that the special use ordinance should require the center to provide eight parking spaces that are accessible through a rear door and dedicated to drop-offs and pick-ups of children, a plan supported by the Parking Committee.
“We didn’t want to encourage drop off and pick up on Davis Street right at the intersection of
Davis and Chicago Avenue,” she said.
Alderman Donald Wilson, 4th Ward, said that he liked the ordinance as it was already written, explaining that it was already sufficient to meet those demands because it required Kiser-McCourth to stay true to her agreements with the city, which already included the parking spaces.
“It’s covered by the ordinance,” he said, explaining that making the ordinance more specific would make drafting it “burdensome.”
Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, disagreed with both of them, saying that the ordinance should instead be amended to require Kiser-McCourth to send letters to parents threatening them with expulsion if they do not follow the proper drop-off and pick-up regulations.
“We can put every restriction in here,” Rainey said. “If there is not a directive to the parents who are attending this school — where they have to park and how they have to park and when they have to park and drop off and not do this and not do this — any move we make is going to be just a waste of time.”
Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, suggested that in the first week or two of the daycare center’s operation traffic officers should concentrate on the area and bust parents who try to double park on Davis Street.
“A week of getting tickets for double-parking, which is a pretty significant fine, I think will cure any inclination to do that,” she said.
The ordinance is such that recommendations that were made during the council meeting to which the Kriser-McCourth agreed were binding as long as they were documented in the minutes.
But Fiske persisted.
“People don’t go back and find the actual transcripts,” she said. “I’m sorry, Alderman Wilson, but I’ve just have too many issues with special uses recently who have not been following their rules.”
Wynne proposed a new section to the ordinance on-the-spot that required the daycare center to remind all parents that double-parking on Davis Street is prohibited at any time.
The aldermen unanimously approved the ordinance as amended.
“It took forever but hopefully it’ll pay off in the end,” Kiser-McCourth said.