About 20 people turned out Tuesday night for yet another meeting aimed at coming to consensus on how the city should rebuild Fountain Square in downtown Evanston
Public Works Senior Project Manager Stefanie Levine led the participants through a description of four conceptual designs for the square and sought their comments.
Public Works Director Suzette Robinson said staff hopes to summarize the community feedback for City Council late this month or in August and get the council to narrow the field to two concepts that could be more fully developed into preliminary designs with detailed cost estimates.
Some of the people who turned out for Tuesday night’s meeting.
After that, Robinson said, the goal is to settle on one final design and have it completed by next January, with construction to occur later in 2016.
In a previous open house session and in responses tallied by the city’s 311 center, residents were asked to say which of the four designs they liked least.
Of 33 people who voted at the open house, the largest number, 11, said they least liked the Red concept — billed as an all-season space for community programming.
But of 90 people voting through 311,, the largest number, 31, said they least liked the Green concept — billed as an innovative sustainable design.
About all the two groups agreed on is that the smallest number of people in each group — a total of 19 people across both groups — chose the Purple concept — billed as a vibrant, pedestrian-oriented event space — as their least favorite.
What any of the votes mean is further complicated by the reality that some features on one plan could be dropped into other plans, and there was little consensus around that Tuesday night, although one speaker was adamant that the square should not have a public restroom facility.
Several people did seem to really like the idea of locating a permanent holiday tree in the triangular traffic island south of the square so the city would no longer have to cut down a tree and haul it into the square each year.
The concept plans for the square also involve a variety of changes to Sherman Avenue in the block between Church and Davis streets — ranging from widening sidewalks to turning the entire block into a “shared street” that would eliminate curbs and make it easier to close off the entire area to vehicles for special events.
The “shared street” is part of the Purple concept — which also turns out, based on preliminary estimates, to be the most expensive, at $5.5 million. The price for other concepts starts around $3 million and heads up from there.
Much of the funding for the project is expected to come from the tax increment financing district that includes the square.