Here’s a recap of our live coverage of this evening’s Evanston City Council meeting.

The meeting is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m.

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

Meeting called to order at 5:35 p.m.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, not present at the start of the meeting, but arrived later.

Mayor Steve Hagerty introduces Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Notes that County distributed $632K in federal COVID-19 funds to the city to help with pandemic-related costs and is working on additional aid. He also notes Housing Authority of Cook County mixed-income housing project at Emerson and Sherman.

Preckwinkle says county balanced its budget without raising property taxes and also provided funding for equity programs.

Thanks city officials for working with county on COVID-related programs.

Says HACC project will be the county’s first mixed income development.

Hagerty says city is doing “really well” on limiting COVID cases.

Says vaccine supplies continue to be limited. Have given first doses to just under 3,800 people 2nd doses to a little more than 900. (That doesn’t count the health care workers in phase 1a).

Will have another 2nd dose event on Wednesday. Says can varying the timing of 2nd doses from between 4 days earlier to six weeks later than the “normal” schedule of 21 days for one vaccine and 28 days for another.

Says have been vaccinating people down to age 77 and they will be getting second doses this week. Expect to be giving first doses to people down to age 74 soon.

Says IDPH says can expect an increase in quanities of vaccine by around March 1.

City Manager Erika Storlie introduces Annie Coakley of Downtown Evanston to introduce “Evanston Winter Games” program.

City Clerk Devon Reid mentions that early voting started today … continues through Feb. 22 … the day before election day. Says 38 people participated in early voting at the Civic Center today. (That’s a low number, though he didn’t offer any specific comparisons.)

Public Comment
20 people signed up, 2:15 each.
Public comment ends at 6:37 p.m.

H2 – Dino Robinson honorary street signs — Church Street, Hartrey to Grey Avenues
Robinson runs the Shorefront Legacy Center, which collects historical information about black residents in Evanston and the rest of the North Shore.

Is praised by many aldermen for his efforts.

Approved 9-0.

Dino Robinson, speaking from the Shorefront office, describes its growing collection of historical records.

SP1 – Clearwell 9 replacement project status update
Project is close to completion. $20.6 million cost funded with 1.84% loan from IEPA. Cost to be recovered from charges to other communities that buy Evanston’s water.

A view of the new clearwell under construction.

Public Works Agency Director Dave Stoneback says it substantially improves the performance of the water plant. “It’s a great project,” he says, and it “will really benefit the citizens of Evanston for a long time.”

Report is accepted and placed on file on a 9-0 vote.

SB2 – Lead service line replacement plan
Stoneback says over 55% of water mains in the city are over 80 years old. (That’s down from 59% a few years ago.) Working to replace 1.5 miles of lines each year — or 1% of the total maines.

City has replaced only part of residential service lines when it does water main replacements.

Federal rules will bar partial replacements of lead service lines starting in 2024.

City offers an interest free loan of up to $4,800 for replacing the homeowner’s portion of the water line. But only about 7% of residents opt for the program. (Average cost of replacing one is $6K .. with a range of roughly $4K to $8K.)

Suggests using part of the money for this year’s water main replacement program to supplement the loan program, which would mean doing fewer replacements.

Suggests several options for providing grant funding for lower income residents and other strategies.

Says city now has 4,300 existing partial lead service lines.

State legislature is looking at even stricter, more costly rules.

Hagerty asks whether there’s a health hazard now? Stoneback says, no it’s not. Says since 1992 lead levels in Evanston have been below the 15ppb action level. But level can spike when service lines are replaced.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, suggests using CDBG funding, when available, plus other strategies. Says these can be big ticket items for people.
Suggests coming up with a similar solution for sewer line replacements.

Stoneback says may need to have rate increases, though it’s not something he’s proposing at this point. Says meeting with CMAP later this month about an “affordable” water rate.

Stoneback says lead piping was used as recently as the 1980s.

Just a discussion item. More proposals to come over then next several months

Consent agenda

Off consent: A2, A4, P2, E1.

Motion to suspend the rules to allow for introduction and action on item A13 (1805 Church St.) is approved

Consent agenda (as amended) is approved 9-0.

A2 – Amazon credit card activity
Approved 8-0-1. Suffredin abstains.

A4 – Park mowing service contract
Braithwaite complained at committee meeting that company wasn’t local. Says he’s since learned that they have a very special mission statement (hiring ex-felons), so he’s withdrawing his objection to this one — but remains concerned that the city’s not doing enough local contracting.

Approved 9-0.

P2 – Five-story planned development at 718 Main St. (the Vogue Fabrics site)
Wilson notes that building will be ADA compliant. Says snow removal is of concern and done right. $1K per year for five years for trees in the area.
Amendment to that effect approved 9-0.

Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, complains about size of the units — too small, she says. Will vote against the project.

Approved 8-1.

E1 – 5th Ward TIF district study

Storlie says Civic Center is included in the TIF study area, but its only a long-range planning tool. No plan on the table now to sell anything.

Paul Zalmezak, economic development manager, says the study area proposed is designed to help support redevelopment opportunities west of the Metra tracks. That historic black community is the area where the investment is needed. Projects would benefit from public investment that could come from the Civic Center, if it were sold at some point, became privately held and generated taxes. Could fund projects on the west side of the tracks. TIF could still work without the Civic Center property, but wouldn’t be a robust. Says public process will take a minimum of six months — so will be after the election before any decisions are made.

Wilson says thinks this TIF makes sense. (Says he hasn’t voted for a TIF before.)

Braithwaite praises efforts of Alderman Rue Simmons in getting this effort underway. Says should help stabilize the community.

Wynne says Evanston has always done well with TIFs, unlike the experience in Chicago where they’ve been managed poorly.

Approved 9-0.

Call of the Wards

Revelle … ward meeting Thursday at 7 p.m.

Rainey … ward meeting Thursday evening.

Fiske … next week NU/City Committee meeting … other meetings coming up.

Braithwaite … ward meeting Thursday evening.

Rue Simmons … ward meeting Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Council votes to go into executive session.

Public meeting ends at 8:25 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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