Evanston aldermen Monday decided to go ahead with plans to install four blue-light police emergency phone call boxes in areas near the Northwestern University campus, despite continuing objections from a few neighborhood residents.
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Blue markers show approved phone locations. “X” marks the proposed location that was rejected.
In October the aldermen had approved plans to install nine phones, including five at CTA stations, but reversed course and said no to the four phones in residential areas in November after a half dozen residents spoke out at a council meeting in opposition.
The university has agreed to pay the $82,000 cost of purchasing and installing the phones, which would connect users to the Evanston Police Department’s 911 center. The city will be responsible for ongoing maintenance of the phones.
At a special meeting of the city’s Emergency Telephone System Board on Nov. 29, the board accepted a suggestion from university officials to relocate a phone proposed for the intersection of Orrington Avenue and Noyes Street to the corner of Sherman Avenue and Emerson Street.
Barbara Janes of 802 Colfax St. Monday suggested postponing a final decision until “a real neighborhood meeting” for the area which straddles the 1st and 5th wards could be held sometime early next year.
But Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said the issue had been discussed at her November ward meeting and at several other events over the past month. “I think we have tried very hard to get feedback,” Holmes said.
Alderman Cheryl Wollin, 1st Ward, said she’s convinced, based on conversations with law enforcement officials, that the blue lights are effective in deterring crime.
Alderman Edmund Moran, 6th Ward, said the head of the Northwestern police department had provided him with academic research reports showing that the blue light phones are one of the most effective strategies to reduce crime near campus areas.
He also said NU students “were very eloquent” at public meetings in saying they would safer with lights installed in the neighborhood.
Alderman Steve Bernstein cast the only vote Monday against the phones, saying he believes they create an illusion of safety rather than real safety. Vigilance, not phones, is what keeps people safe, he argued.