Here’s a recap of our live coverage of Monday night’s Evanston City Council meeting.

The meeting now is scheduled to start at 7:10 p.m.

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

Meeting called to order at 7:18 p.m.

Ald. Tom Suffredin (6th) is absent. All other council members present.

Mayor reads proclamation honoring the 75th anniversary of the William B. Snell VFW Post #1786 Auxiliary.

Consent agenda

Off consent …


A6, A7, A12 (held in committee) A15 (amended in committee)

P1, P2 (amended in committee)

ED1, ED 2.

Remainder of consent agenda approved.

A4 – Forward Space office furniture contract

Lara Biggs says need more clarity on vendor qualifications, but believes both vendors would offer same price.

Kelly moves to hold. Fails for lack of a second.

Approved 7-1.

A15 – Overnight parking for commercial vehicles

Reid moves to hold. Not happy with amendment in committee that removed pickup trucks from the proposal. Says he’s also not happy that the plan would require Uber drivers to pay a $30 fee for a parking permit.

Burns seconds the hold. No vote to override. So item is held until next meeting.

P1 – Housing Subcommittee extension of time

Revelle notes that in committee the measure was sent back to subcommittee without a time limit. So no action required at Council tonight.

P2 – Plat of subdivision for 1224 Washington St.

Amended in committee to bar a curb cut on Washington.

Approved 8-0.

ED1 – $2 million grant agreement with Northlight Theatre

Reid says he’s happy Northlight is relocating to Evanston, but says he’s having a tough time supporting $2 million. Says it would take 20 years for city to see a return on its investment.

Says Northlight is a well-connected and well-financed non-profit. Says the donor class that would be supporting this project did not see a reduction in their wealth during the pandemic.

Says if tried to do a claw back would have to return the ARPA funds to the federal government.

Wynne says she whole-heartedly supports the Northlight project. Says have been trying for decades to get live theater back to the downtown.

Nieuwsma says he’s hoping to get Northlight back to Evanston as soon as possible. Says the ARPA money will be catalytic for Northlight’s fundraising and for revitalization of downtown.

Braithwaite says he’s been impressed that Northlight has always had Evanston in its heart. Appreciates that Northlight has done shows that have focused on the Black experience.

Revelle agrees with other council members favoring the plan.

Kelly says Northlight will be a great benefit to the downtown. But wants a 10-year claw-back. Moves that amendment.

Reid seconds, but says he doubts it’s practical

Geracaris says supports Northlight, and says he generally supports the idea of claw-backs in grants.

Reid asks Sara Flax, housing and grants manager, who says “there’s not any real clarity on this.”

Flax says you can only have loans that are paid back within the time period of the grant which is the end of 2026. Says could potentially put in a five-year clause, which is what is used in CDBG.

Would only get a percentage of the current value at time of sale — not what you put in.

Reid asks whether could have a penalty provision instead, if not around for 10 years.

Corporation Counsel Nicholas Cummings says the motion itself is not in order it doesn’t amend the resolution. But says she could vote against it.

Realistically if something happened to the organization — they would be in breach — city would have to take action to try to get money back — it wouldn’t be automatic.

Mayor Biss the resolution authorizes the city manager to discuss the terms of an agreement with Northlight — and the city manager could include discussion of a claw-back provision.

Cummings says the resolution is to negotiate and execute the agreement (so it would not come back go council

Mayor rules that the amendment, based on Cummings’ opinion, is out of order. So back to discussion of main motion

Nieuwsma says existing resolution calls for a two year

Braithwaite says he’s upset … says “this is the worst exercise of local government that I’ve seen so far.” Says have had so many discussions of ARPA over many months — “you don’t move the goal line with seconds left in the game.”

Says it’s especially insulting when it relates to our black businesses.

Says should move forward with the process — be a critical mistake to pause yet again.

Interim City Manager Kelley Gandurski says a simple solution — if city manager has authority to negotiate the agreement –could do a forgivable loan. Has typically been done before and record the agreement on the property.

But in any event is sounds like the funds wouldn’t come back to the city — but to the federal government.

Flax says forgivable loans aren’t in the toolbox, right now. May need revision of rules from the federal government.

Says Northlight is in one of the business sectors that were most severely impacted by the pandemic.

Wynne says this is negotiating in bad faith — it’s been before the Economic Development Committee for months. “What we’re doing tonight is just plain stupid,” she says. Says she didn’t hear about it until 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Says the likelihood that Northlight will fail is very slight. And that city would have to spend money to sue Northlight to get any money and then would have to give the money recovered back to the federal government.

Kelly says she began the discussion of the clawback idea in January

Burns moves the question, Braithwaite seconds.

Motion to call the question approved 7-1. Reid votes no.

Main motion approved 7-1. Reid votes no.

ED2 – $1 million grant agreement with The Aux

Braithwaite says making history this evening with program to incubate Black businesses from now to eternity. Likes the mental health component, healthy foods, etc.

Says it checks the box for building wealth and closing the racial equity gap. Also helps to expand the city’s tax base.

Reid asks about ownership of building (raised in public comment).

Jackie White, from The Aux, says the ownership of the building — owned by The Growing Season now but ultimately will be owned by the community. Can’t guarantee it will be 100% black owned, but that’s the intention and goal, hopefully by the end of 2022.

Wynne says this is something that hasn’t been done in Evanston but has been successful elsewhere and she’s strongly in favor of it.

Neuwsma calls the question. Braithwaite seconds.

Motion to call the question is approved 6-2. Reid and Kelly vote no.

Vote on main motion — approved 8-0.

Call of wards

Reid… ward meeting last Thursday of month at 6 p.m.

Nieuwsma … ward meeting this Thursday 7 p.m. at Robert Crown.

Wynne … condolences to Dar Francellno of city staff on the death of her mother.

Burns … ward meeting last Thursday of the month at 7 p.m.

Council votes to go into executive session and public meeting ends at 9:41 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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