Here’s a recap of our live coverage of tonight’s Evanston City Council meeting, which featured a presentation of the “evanstARTs” report and a vote on the lease of city-owned property for a new bar and restaurant on Howard Street.

Meeting called to order at 7:04 p.m.

There are no committee meetings tonight.

A packet with information on tonight’s agenda items is available online.

Top: Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl awards plaque to Eddie Lakin of Edzo’s for its recognition by the Zagat Survey for having the “Best Burger” in Chicago.

Public Comment

Jeanne Sanke says Howard Street now has the coolest neighborhood bar in the city (Ward Eight) and is thrilled at the prospect of Peckish One opening next door.

Special Order of Business

Report of “evanstARTs” initiative.

Judy Kemp, groups chair presents introduction to report.

Judy Kemp.

The consultant on the project, Amina Dickerson, says many arts groups in Evanston are operating on a shoestring. Says there’s need for facilities, branding, marketing and promotion, and funding help as well as collaboration with businesses.

Said there was strong interest in a major cultural facility downtown.

Amina Dickerson.

Calls for creation of a “comprehensive plan for cultural development.”

A copy of the report’s executive summary is available online.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, asks what’s the next step.

Dickerson says the next step is to bring all the groups together and hire a top-level official in the city to coordinate efforts.

Grover asks about funding. Says need dedicated fund across all types of arts.

Dickerson calls for a “united fund for the arts.” Says large percentage of participants in the study said they would contribute to such a fund.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, calls it the most exciting presentation she’s heard in a long time.

Says there’s probably nothing she knows less about than arts administration. But says a performing arts theater on Howard Street will “make everything change. I know that for a fact.”

Dickerson says should have a senior person who’s able to shape policy — that coordination internally is a major step.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, says the enthusiasm people are bringing to the project is “so Evanston.” Says there should be somebody in the city manager’s office who can provide the coordination

Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, says similar in depth study of child care needs in Evanston had great results. Think this shows great promise as well.

Tendam says need to get the message out about how much the arts contribute to the economy.

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, asks whether there was any consideration given to some entity other than the city taking the lead role.

Dickerson says there’s also need for sustained involvement of the private sector.

Says it’s not just lobbing the ball to the city and saying “now you do it.” Everybody has to be a part of the planning process, she says.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, says her minister suggested that churches could provide additional venues for the arts. Says it’s been done a lot in Philadelphia through a group called Sacred Places in the Arts.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says he’ll return to the council in May or June with a list of arts-related issues to discuss.

Council votes to accept the report.

Consent agenda

We’ll note anything taken off the consent agenda. Off consent:

  • Peckish One construction agreement.
  • Howard-Ridge Overlay District items (P3-P4) (Postponed until nexxt regular council meeting.)
  • Special Events Calendar.

Peckish One

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, says he’s not supporting the allocation of $200K in TIF funds, although he wishes the project success.

Approved 7-1. Wilson votes no. Burrus is absent tonight.

Howard-Ridge Overlay District (both ordinances)

Rainey moves to table it to next regular meeting. Approved.

Says there are unfortunate rumors circulating about. Says she guesses she hasn’t done a good job of explaining it. So wants to postpone action.

Special Events Calendar

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, says memo on p. 257 says non-lakefront park events are not changing.

Says policy is to have 12 special events on the lakefront. Says is one event not returning and one new one this year…so the number won’t be exceeded this year.

Says doesn’t believe have enough information about a proposed additional event sponsoring a Halloween fun run… says it appears to be a for-profit company…Jet Events LLC.

Says doesn’t believe there’s been a for-profit group as a sponsor of a lakefront event before.

Rainey says …we’re not saying “no” to the Jet event … just approving the others.

Wynne says she’s asking the Director of Parks and Recreation for a lot more information about its operation. Wants more information on paper.

Wilson says representatives from Jet are here, should at least attempt to address the questions now. Doesn’t want to do the events list piecemeal. Says they’ve taken the trouble to be here.

Grover says next meeting isn’t until April 22 … says lead time is really key for planning events so shouldn’t postpone it.

Tendam says agrees with Grover.

Fiske says this appears to be a new direction for events on the lakefront. Says has asked Gaynor for more information…perhaps be more than what applicants could provide tonight.

Says its an entirely new direction for events on the lakefront … allows a commercial organizer to come in. Requires more discussion by the City Council.

Wynne says established a lakefront policy 10 years ago that called for 12 events on the lakefront. Have 12 other events on the list. The Halloween event would exceed that limit.

Holmes says had discussion in Human Services about looking at expanding the number of events on the lakefront.

Wynne says she wasn’t informed that that plan was underway. Says there are neighobrhood groups in her ward that didn’t know about it either and they’re very concerned about it.

Elliot Weinberg from Jet says the group is not a 501c3 says its a publishing company that’s developed events business. Says lifelong Evanston resident and has done a turkey trot event here in the past. Says spent $60K on that and only generated $50K in revenue.

Says Bank of America is not a not for profit and it produces the Chicago Marathon.

Says turkey trot raised fund for several not-for-profits last year.

Says running events typically are produced by for-profit organizations with goal of aiding non-profits.

Mayor Tisdahl says that when she was 7th Ward alderman was involved in setting public policy after a lot of public discussion… suggests should invite people who live on the lakefront to comment if we’re considering changing our own policy … transparency, she says.

Holmes says had discussion last year about changing the number of events. Says doesn’t have a number in mind.

Tisdahl says she’s not advocating for any particular number.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says during the course of the year Wynne, Gaynor and he have had several discussions about changes. Got to the point as this year’s calendar was coming forward that the number of events was at the cap in the policy. Was misunderstanding about that.

Says for several months the lakefront neighbors and aldermen were under the impression that it was again going to be 12. Says was misunderstanding. Says will have two special meetings…on April 1 and April 16. Could have discussions about this at that time. Staff, he says, bears some responsibility in what apparently was a misunderstanding about the number of events.

Grover says additional events are just what have been talking about in economic devleopment and community wellness efforts. Says it’s in October — when there aren’t any other events happening. Likes the idea of doing it on the lakefront because don’t have to close streets.

Motion is to approve the 12 … with discussion of the 13th to be had on April 16.


Call of the wards

Grover makes reference to Rules Committee to try to get city to connect with neighborhood list serves and discussion boards.

Rainey says restaurant won’t actually be called Peckish … actual name is a secret. Says expects now will move more swiftly on development of the Howard Street theater, in wake of tonight’s evanstARTs report.

Fiske suggests First Night Evanston should be a recipient if there is any Evanston 150 grant money. Says volunteers are quite far along in plans to revive the New Year’s Eve event.

Wynne says had 150 people for ward meeting last week — new record.

Holmes. .. Ward meeting Thursday at 7 p.m. at Fleetwood … school board and township supervisor candidates to be there.

Tendam … makes references to Human Services…wants city-ETHS discussion regarding artificial turf fields … and continue discussion of events along the lakefront so can have clear direction for next year.

Meeting adjourned at 9:02 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. Alderman Rainey – Please show us the “facts”

    At the City Council meeting i attended last night, Alderman Rainey made a comment that is worth investigating.

    Per the Evanston Now quote (i use their quote for accuracy), Alderman Rainey "Says there's probably nothing she knows less about than arts administration. But says a performing arts theater on Howard Street will "make everything change. I know that for a fact."

    So a performing arts theater on Howard Street will "make everything change"? How will it change?

    "I know that for a fact" – where is your evidence? what "fact" are you citing?

    Is this "fact" based on "hope" or "evidence"?

    If this performing arts theater is so compelling why is money needed from the City of Evanston ?

    Did Alderman Rainey just watch, "The Field of Dreams?"

    U.S. governments at all levels have made significant mistakes when "facts" have been confused with "fiction"




Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *