Gifts from private donors for a new Robert Crown Center in Evanston have topped the $8.8 million mark, and a report from the city’s fundraising consultant indicates the ultimate total could “greatly surpass” the $10 million goal.

In a report to be presented to aldermen Monday night, Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons says another nine to 12 months of fundraising time is available before construction of the building begins. He added that completion of final drawings for the facilty around the end of this year should provide another boost to fundraising efforts.

A chart included in the latest report from the fundrasing consultants.

Lyons says city staff is beginning to assume the work of pledge redemption and administration as well as providing support for other city-related donor projects, including the Police and Fire Foundation, the library endowment and the parks foundations.

He says the city will soon need to decide whether to extend the city’s contract with consultant CCS Fundraising beyond its scheduled conclusion at the end of next month.

A year ago the consultants had projected that fundraising would hit the $10 million mark by last March, combining the $5 million match from the anonymous lead donor with $5 million in other community gifts.

Earlier this month architect Andy Tinucci showed revised preliminary plans for the center at a community meeting — plans that shaved 10,000 square feet from the building’s footprint, reducing it to 90,000 square feet.

The city has pledged to issue $10 million in bonds to help build the new facility, and the Library Board has pledged $2.5 million to include a 5,000 square foot library branch in the building.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. We don’t need no stinkin library at an ice rink

    Why is the Library Board pledging $2.5 million of taxpayer funds for a library at the Robert Crown Center?

    We don’t need a library at an ice skating rink. The city again is in the hole. Time to spend money wisely and maybe reduce property taxes a bit.

    I bet the donations came in because the city has already pledged $10 million. Too bad none of that money can go to the valuable Harley Clarke Mansion on the lake. A year round restaurant there would be grand.

    1. Library….not!

      Wow….me and all my friends and skater people agree!  What a ridiculous concept!   Think about it, city people…..If 7-11 pledged money, would the rink also have one of those?   Or a CVS, or Target?   And, how come other comparable burbs only have/need ONE library!.. Think about that one, also.  Wasting taxpayers’ money seems to be a priority….happens constantly.  Then think about upkeep and maintenance, parking, and the like.   Not to mention the fact that ice rinks, and rec. centers are very noisy…..all the time.  Libraries need quiet.  I can picture hockey kids flooding into the library when their partents are late picking them up..and making noise…which they do…..and playing with pucks.  I can also picture kids being dropped off at the library, and ditching to go to the rink part.   This is really a dumb idea…happening only because of promised taxpayer money.   There are also staff cutbacks…who is going to maintain this white elephant?   Private cleaning services, costing even more money?   

    2. Your Subject line proves why

      Your Subject line proves why we need a library!!!  

      The Library Board is pledging $2.5 Million because they recognize the importance of supporting Evanston youth with opportunities to read and grow.  Perhaps you should consider making a personal donation to our children’s future instead of daydreaming about sipping your martini in a mansion. That would be Grand!

      1. too many……

        The library board seems to feel the need for many branches?   Why, when all the other suburbs don’t.   Maybe because there is a problem with the Evanston school system?   

    3. Library…

      So offering a library to the south west side of town isn’t a great idea? Why keep the North Branch open then? Why put money into the South Branch? More libraries the better. 

      1. The unelected Library Board spends, spends, spends…

        Hi Sal,

        Catchy name. How original.

        The more libraries the better, you say? Shall we have one on every Evanston corner? How many branch libraries does Evanston need? Why do you think the brick and mortar book store industry is dying? One word – the Internet. Peeps are shopping and ordering stuff such as books online.

        Evanston has a huge and wonderful library downtown. That’s really all we need. If you want a branch library over there then there is vacant space available at the strip center at Main and Dodge. I bet it would not cost $2.5 million to rent it.

        But the UNELECTED and unaccountable Library Board is having a field day raising its taxes and spending like drunken sailors. 

        1.  What is in a name?

          What is in a name? 

          I have no problem with tax dollars going towards putting a library in an area where maybe folks may use it. Sure we have a nice one downtown, but it is not as easily accessible to some as folks think it is. Would’ve it been better if they bought a bookmobile? Why not add to make Robert Crown more than an ice rink and gym. I’m all for more people frequenting our community centers for more than just sports.

          It’s sad to see that residents feel the need to put up neighborhood pop up libraries just to give access to books rather than the library open one more branch. 

          I guess I am just one opinion.

  2. Fantastic!  My only surprise

    Fantastic!  My only surprise is that something which data has proven to be so un-equitable as ice hockey and ice dancing (which appears to be the majority of this space) is moving forward with such ease when there are so many other issues to tackle.  I can’t imagine that only the 13% Republicans are financing this arena…

    1. all un-equitable

      Frankly, all skating is really un-equitable if you think about it.  It’s an expensive sport for all skating venues.   Even public skating, which is offering many hours each week, is expensive.  

    2. Ice rink for skating—not vicarious thrill

      If the rink for kids getting exercise, maybe ok. but not for parents and others vicarious thrill. Get rid of the seating—don’t repeat the mistakes of high school and professional sport—people who watch i.e. couch potatos.

      I have to wonder how much would have been raised if it was required you be black and live west of Asbury ? Instead children of rich whites will flock to the rink—look at the costs for hockey equipment/uniforms. 

      1. Have you ever heard of Shani Davis or been to Crown?

        I’m not sure why “Guestt” is bringing up race, but lets be clear about Crown.

        It is the most visited community center in the city.  It has a multiplicity of programs–including a VERY INEXPENSIVE pre-school, a gym that kids can use for free, etc…

        The rink is used by people from all backgrounds. It was the training ground for one of Evanston’s greatest Black atheletes–Speed SKater Shani Davis.

        Skating is very inexpensive. You can get an annual pass for $90 and pick up a pair of skates for $20 at Play It Again sports.

        This site is totally inclusive. Pay a visit sometime!

        1. So $110 is nothing ?

          But cost to get to EPL Main is too great for people ?

          Do we thus need a branch at Howard and McCormick ?  Isabella and Crawford ? Isabell and  Sheridan ? South Blvd and Sheridan ?

        2. passes

          a pass for one or two is doable…families with a few kids have to pay $90 for each person’s pass…….a LOT of people can’t afford $360 for a family of four to skate.   And that’s not including rentals……problem is, there are a lot of free ways to exercise alone or as a family   

    3. rink usage

      I think you meant to say, figure skating with ice hockey takes up the majority…ice dance is one wwekly class..hardly a majority.   And hockey is a huge organization, well-run, and always growing…even the part that’s not EYHA.  Both programs are un-equitable, though, as are any other unique, costly sports…..that’s always been that way……figure skating is costlier than hockey, also…with all the extras going on to be a top-level skater.   I would doubt that the new rink would get fully used by heavily paying patrons.

  3. Crown library to repeat old West branch fate ?

    West Branch Library closes, its annual circulation having never reached the level of the nearby North Branch’s monthly figures. In retrospect the Branch location – too close to other Library facilities and outside of a busy retail business district – made success unlikely. The Library cooperates in the founding of the Foster Reading Center as a more effective means of promoting reading in the neighborhood. The Library Staff and Board develop a comprehensive building program document.


    Likewise is Crown to close to the Twig ?

    Was a study done to estimate the number of patrons to be expected ? Who K-12 children after school to 6(?)  PM, return 7-9 PM ? Books to stock—books  K-12, college level need for classes [K-12 schools not have], or pop novels ? Cost of books and how that reduces the books at EPL Main ?

    Will pre-K and K-12 children prefer Crown to Main ?  Will kids go to Crown to ‘read’ but really go to use/watch sports ?

    Probably some liberal groups have said black need and flock to Crown to read but have they done research ?  Likely it sounds Progressive and facts are not relevant.

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