Here’s a recap of our live coverage of Monday night’s Evanston City Council meeting.
The meeting is now scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
A packet with information on the agenda items is available online.
Meeting called to order at 7:03 p.m.
All council members present except Wynne and Suffredin.
Mayor Daniel Biss notes that today is Indigenous People’s Day.
City Manager Luke Stowe praises outgoing Police Chief Richard Eddington for 12 years of service to the city.
He introduces the new chief, Schenita Stewart, who takes the oath of office — which is greeted with an extended round of applause from residents in the packet council chamber.
Biss says Stewart is an excellent, skilled law enforcement professional who also knows the city of Evanston very well. He also thanks all the members of the police force who showed up for the ceremony for their dedication to the city.
The council meeting is recessed about 7:15 p.m. to give time for people who showed up just for the chief’s swearing in to clear the room. Meeting resumes at 7:25 p.m.
Mayor says speakers have 2:45 minutes each tonight.
Sari Kadison-Shapiro wants dog beach restored.
Charles Smith, of Jens Jensen Garden group, wants the Artists Book House lease revisions tabled until issues regarding the garden have been worked out.
Mike Vasilko calls the new proposed budget reckless and very disappointing.
Audrey Niffenegger of Artists Book House says the lease revisions are realistic and Council should vote on it tonight.
Vickie Pasenko, executive director of the Evanston Animal Shelter, speaks in favor of funding on agenda tonight for temporary housing for animals while new shelter is constructed.
A number of additional speakers
Pubic Comment ends at 8:17 p.m.
Special orders of business
SP1 – Refugee Resettlement Fund $50K
SP2 – Discussion of reopening dog beach
Deputy City Manager Dave Stoneback says staff is seeking direction for what to do the rest of this fall and next year.
Says there is danger in reopening the dog beach now — turning a blind eye to county ordinance that requires vaccinations, etc. City lacks control measures. Says current access walkway is unsafe.
For 2023, do want to have ADA access — which staff requires is required by federal law. Then would need to get a pass and check vaccinations, etc., and patrol the beach. Would require money to fund that — and have to hire consultant to design the ADA ramp.
Ald. Devon Reid (8th) asks whether county ordinance requires that the city enforce the regulations. Answer from Stoneback is “yes.”
Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) says Skokie has a system that requires a keycard that people can’t get unless they show proof of vaccination for the pets.
Reid asks if city could make it a “low priority” for enforcement. Says the community really wants it. But nobody wants it in their neighborhood.
Stoneback says it would take a long ramp to cover the four to five foot drop from the shoreline to the beach. Says it might cost $200K to build a ramp. Staff will do whatever City Council directs us to do, Stoneback says, but need direction.
Nick Cummings, corporation counsel, says city is required to comply with the county ordinance. State law delegates authority to the county’s health administrator.
Nieuwsma says he favors a laissez-faire approach to regulating a dog beach.
Kelly says Wilmette lets people use their dog beach without any regulations. Says shouldn’t have to hire a consultant.
Appears to be direction to get a quotes for consultant to properly design an ADA compatible ramp that likely would be constructed next year.
Off consent: A11, A12, A15, HC1, R1, R2.
(And A3 and A10 didn’t make it out of committee and so won’t be heard tonight.)
With those changes, consent agenda is approved.
A11 – Agreement with LEAP concerning the reimaging public safety project
Kelly says city should be able to do the work in house. Wants to hold the proposal until the new police chief has been able to give feedback on it.
Kelly moves to hold the proposal. Motion dies for lack of a second.
Nieuwsma says he would like to hear from the new police chief.
Burns moves to divide the question to separate the LEAP proposal from the hiring of a management analyst
Cummings says hiring of the analyst is not actually directed by the proposal before the council tonight.
Nieuwsma moves to hold the issues. Harris seconds. So the item is held until the Oct. 24 council agenda
A12 – Waiver of purchasing process for temporary housing of animal shelter animals
Kelly objects to spending so much on animal shelter. Says project is feeling rushed. Says anticipates recession next year.
Staffer says scheduled is being driven by the Cook County grant for $2 million. Total project cost $6.3M, with $1M raised by animal shelter association.
Vicky Pasenko, animal shelter association executive director, says fundraising effort is hampered by council members saying they’re not willing to proceed with the project.
It’s now 9:50 p.m.
A15 – Lease amendment for Harley Clarke mansion
Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) says the amended fundraising targets are much more realistic and she urges approval.
Kelly moves to hold, to give the coach house to the Jens Jensen garden group.
Cummings says staff would need more time to redraft the lease.
Kelly withdraws her motion to hold and instead moves to refer the issue back to the Administration and Public Works Committee.
Revelle says says the Jens Jensen garden issue is separate from the fundraising targets that are included in the current lease.
Audrey Niffenegger said the garden is a separate issue and they should not be bundled together.
Kelly says wants separate leases … and referral back to A&PW.
Approved 5-2 … to refer back to A&PW.
HC1 – HOME Investment Partnerships Program
Nieuwsma asks what happens if the city doesn’t get an application for the funding.
Flax says city would have to go back to get HUD approval for a reallocation of the funds.
R1 & R2 – Requiring co-sponsorships of referrals
Reid moves to hold. Wants a new rotation schedule for membership on the Referrals Committee first.
Biss says Rules Committee has sole jurisdiction over assignments to committees. Wouldn’t come back to council. Says hopes won’t table the items tonight.
Reid now moves to amend R1 to require two cosponsors for all referrals (as discussed at Rules Committee last week). Approved 7-0.
Reid now moves to table both proposals to the second Council meeting in November.
Burns says the hold would give time to set up a Referral Committee rotation schedule.
Approved 6-1. Geracaris votes no.
Call of the Wards
Revelle … 7th Ward meeting 7p Wednesday… new Ryan Field on agenda
Reid…. 8th Ward meeting last Thursday of month at 6 p.m. Moves to have Council eliminate city ban on possession of cannabis in city buildings as an arrestable offense. (References Biden’s pardon of persons convicted on federal charges of possession of cannabis) Wants it as special order of business on Nov. 21. Burns seconds. Approved 7-0.
Geracaris … 9th Ward virtual meeting on Oct. 26.
Harris … 2nd Ward meeting Oct. 27 7p @ Crown.
Burns … 5th Ward meeting last Thursday of the month.
Council moves to go into executive session at 10:31 p.m. to discuss personnel, sale or purchase of property and setting of reserves for claims.
An ADA ramp would be nice but more important at people beaches first, no? Dog beach in Wilmette is not ADA compliant. ( Shoot, many of our public sidewalks downtown are a menace to everyone with the poor paving. )The dog beach should open as it was, with a goal of ADA compliance. In the meantime you have dog owners illegally using the people beaches,facing little (to no?) enforcement as opposed to paying a fee. How does this make sense?
It appears that in Evanston if something doesn’t “make sense”, more money is simply appropriated for the “problem”… in this case possibly hire a “consultant” for dog beach ADA compliance, and then $200K to build a ramp
The Shoreline Management Department of IL is the entity that regulates Lake Michigan’s Shoreline. The ADA regulations state *specifically* that regulations are *not* required for every public facility! The dog beach is an existing facility that was closed due to high water levels. Those water levels are now down 28 inches since 2020, revealing the entire beach, which had not been the case for several years. The city engineer said that the Smith Group was signed to rehab our shoreline in two to three years, along with the Army Corps of Engineers. (Many dogs who like to swim will not be alive then!) The Smith group added a proposal for the dog beach at the end of their plans for the shoreline: ADA compliant ramps and “seating” for 1.9 million dollars. This appeared to be a needlessly expensive afterthought that the City could easily decide to eliminate. Additionally, although the ADA regulations include fishing piers, swimming pools and play areas, there is zero mention of dog beaches. The Wilmette dog beach provides seating with a couple of round metal picnic tables. One or two park benches would also work. The neighborhood protests were about a proposed new dog park at Clark Square, where people and their dogs could see the lake, but not have access to it. Those protests were never about the dog beach.
Things have changed, with the pandemic and the receding lake levels.
The existing plastic ADA-compliant ramps at the people beaches no longer reach the shoreline, and, at least one person who likes to swim and is in a wheelchair cannot reach the water. If the ADA regulations require “true equity” this should be addressed next summer. Finally, the ADA regulations say that city officials should consult with the public, which would include the handicapped community, as to their needs.
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