Dara Munson.

Dara Munson, the new chief executive officer of Family Focus, told residents at a 5th Ward meeting Thursday night that the group plans to continue and expand its services in Evanston.

Munson says the agency, which had been seeking to sell its building, the former Foster School, now is looking for ways to ensure the safety and maintenance of the building, continue services with the existing tenants and find new tenants for the 40% of the building that is now unused.

The plans to sell the building at 2010 Dewey Ave. led to a successful effort to landmark the property — which diminished the property’s redevelopment potential.

Munson, who came to Family Focus when the group merged with the Chicago Child Care Society a year ago, says she’s looking for help in thinking through the scope of the project — which could mean “pretty significant construction” — and will continue to seek input from the community.

The agency offers child care, home visits and youth development programs to provide support to low income families.

Among other features, the building has a gymnasium, a computer lab — and a theater that Munson said “really needs renovating.”

“I won’t sit at our headquarters in Hyde Park and think that I know what should come out of that center” in Evanston, Munson said.

Rose Johnson.

Rose Johnson, who heads the auxiliary board for the Family Focus site in Evanston, said the board is seeking new members and “is still working on getting the best out of our grand old building — Foster School.”

“The whole atmosphere is very positive now,” Johnson said. “At the next community meeting I think we can expect some very good news from Family Focus.”

Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) said the creation of the new tax increment financing district in the neighborhood should help provide a funding source for possible expansion of programs and for renovations at the center.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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