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

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:45 p.m.

A packet with information on the agenda items is available online.

Meeting called to order at 7:45 p.m.

Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) and Ald. Tom Suffredin (6th) are absent.

Mayor Biss notes that this is Parks and Recreation Month.

City Manager Luke Stowe announces appointment of Liam Bird as the new organizational performance and equity manager for the city.

Also recognizes Evanston Cradle to Career’s new Advocates for Action group.

Public Comment

Mayor says 15 speakers tonight. Public comment ends at 8:33 p.m.

SP1 – Evanston Ecology Center repair options

Related story.

Lara Biggs, city engineer says project — which could total $3.4 million — could be done as part of the 2024 capital improvement program.

Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) says he supports the environmental goals in the proposal.

Biggs says the Evanston Environmental Association has already committed to raise $1.4 million for the proposed canoe launch — and probably not reasonable to

Ald. Krissie Harris (2nd) says need to prioritize the projects to deal with the “disasters of our buildings” … including the Fire and Police Station and the Civic Center.

Ald. Devon Reid (8th) says this highlights a structural issue in the way we finance facilities. Says there should be a facilities maintenance fee charged to each department for use of city space — so can set aside money each year to finance the maintenance of city buildings.

Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) says she’s concerned about the cost of the consultant fees. Suggests bumping the issue to the Parks and Recreation Board.

Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) says it seems clear that city wants to keep the Ecology Center in its current location. So this is different than the Civic Center and Police/Fire Headquarters rehab needs — where the decision might be to build new and on a different site.

Ald. Juan Geracaris (9th) supports meeting CARP goals and getting the building LEED certified. Asks what cost savings would get from those in continuing energy costs.

Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) agrees with Geracaris about environmental goals. Says maintaining facilities is the responsibility of the City Council — OK to have Parks Board discuss, but it’s Council’s decisions. Says there are cost savings to doing all the work at once — waiting for some work will just mean higher costs later.

Reid says infrastructure clearly needs to be a priority for the last two years of the Council’s term.

No vote on this issue.

SP2 – $4M for HODC 1811-1815 Church affordable housing development

Harris objects to taking so much money from the TIF, says she has other projects that need funding from the TIF in her ward.

Reid suggests amendment to give more flexibility in funding sources, possibly layering in some HOME funds, perhaps $250K — as a fourth source. (Original proposal is $1.5M from TIF, $1.5M from ARPA and $1M from the affordable housing fund.)

Motion approved to table this item until later in the meeting, to give Community Development Director Sarah Flax time to work out the funding options

Consent agenda

Off consent: A6, P1, P3, P4, HCDC1 and HS1.

With those exceptions, consent agenda is approved.

HS1 – Safe gun storage act

Nieuwsma says there have been 30 mass shootings in the U.S. just in the last two weeks. It’s insane and shameful, he says. Glad city can do some on the issue.

Approved 7-0.

A6 – Purchase of Nissan Rogue for parking enforcement

Not an electric vehicle — but city lacks its own charging capacity. Also concern that the EVs would cost more. Reid says need to expand EV charging capacity for municipal vehicles as part of next year’s budget.

Approved 6-0. Harris is not present for this vote.

P1 – Plat of subdivision for HODC/Mt. Pisgah subdivision


P4 – Sale of city-owned property at 1805 Church St., 1708 and 1710 Darrow Ave.

Kelly moves to hold both items. Concerns about the HODC-owned Claridge, at 319 Dempster St.

Says are getting close to some permanent improvement, but don’t have them nailed down yet.

Kelly moves that, Revelle seconds. Reid moves to overturn the hold. Burns seconds. (At least a 5-2 vote would be required to overturn the hold.)

Burns says there are fundamental differences between HODC and Kelly on how many hours worth of security. Says one person is responsible for 80% of the issues and that that person is scheduled to be evicted early next month.

Burns says Kelly wants much more security much longer. Says for a not-for-profit that provides housing under market rate — it just doesn’t make sense.

Says doesn’t think the hold will amount to much.

Burns says if city wants the security, then city should chip into pay for it.

Reid says shouldn’t hold funding for Church/Darrow project because of issue with the one other building.

Motion to overturn the hold fails on a vote of 2-5. (Reid and Geracaris voted to overturn.

P3 – PD for 1621-31 Chicago Ave.

Moved by Reid but fails for lack of a second.

HCDC1 – Increasing the demolition tax

Reid calls it as a deterrent to property demolition and incentive for adaptive reuse.

Nieuwsma says he’d like to incentivize “deconstruction” — but doesn’t seek to amend the ordinance tonight so as to exempt that from the ordinance.

Approved 7-0.

SP2 – $4M of city funding for HODC development at 1811-1815 Church.

Flax says now comfortable that can take $500K off the TIF request (reducing that to $1M), but she requests flexibility to use combination of HOME and additional affordable housing funds close that gap. (Affordable Housing Fund had already been providing $1M.)

Reid withdraws his previous amendment and makes new one reflecting Flax’s proposal.

Harris seconds. She thanks staff for figuring out the option for reducing the amount taken from TIF.

Amendment approved 7-0. Main motion approved 6-1. Kelly votes no.

Call of the wards

Reid … suggests should have allowed 1621 Church project to be scaled down and approved. (“I’m not a developer-friendly person, some would call me a Marxist,” he says, “but that’s not true.”)

Biss says he’s totally sympathetic to the point. But there’s a procedural matter — doesn’t think should handle it as a two-week hold

Reid says might be a three or four month hold, but doesn’t want it to have to go back for a complete review.

Burns says he’s willing to second. If it’s just about the height, for this body.

Moves to table it to Sept. 26 Council meeting

Burns seconds that.

Motion to table fails on a 3-3 tie vote.

Reid withdraws the motion to introduce the measure.

Reid says, “Need more housing, more affordable housing, and more folks in our downtown.”

Kelly … ward meeting July 6 on patio of Graduate Hotel at 4p.m.

Harris … ward meeting July 13 in Parasol Room

Nieuwsma … ward meeting Tuesday, July 11, 7 p.m. at Crown.

Revelle … meeting on Ryan Field tomorrow in Parasol Room.

Council votes to go into executive session to discuss litigation, building safety, security review and a fourth topic your reporter didn’t catch.

Public meeting ends at 10:40 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. Reid says, “I’m not a developer-friendly person, some would call me a Marxist,” he says, “but that’s not true.” Probably that’s so. I certainly would call Reid something else.

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