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Port-a-potty, Wi-Fi planned for Independence Park

It's an effort to replace amenities lost when the nearby library branch closed.

Independence Park at Central Street and Stewart Avenue. (Google Maps image)

In the wake of the Evanston Library Board’s closing of the north branch public library, the city hopes to provide some public amenities across the street at Independence Park.

At Thursday night’s 7th Ward meeting Parks Director Lawrence Hemingway said that in response to a request from Alderman Eleanor Revelle, 7th Ward, his department is prepared to work with a contractor to locate a handicap accessible port-a-potty at the park as soon as the start of next month.

Lawrence Hemingway.

Each portable toilet costs the city $350 a month to rent, and Hemingway said the only park that now has one year round is Penny Park on Lake Street.

The port-a-potty at Penny Park. (Google Maps image)

Rosalie Ziomek said, “Port-a-potties make me nervous. Are they safe?”

Hemingway said that while the city can’t provide supervision or staff at the site, the contractor does clean the portable toilets two to three times a week and that if there’s an issue, residents can call 311 to report it. He added that there have been no problems with the one at Penny Park.

After some discussion with residents, Hemingway said he would plan to locate the port-a-potty along the alley at the east end of the park.

Revelle said she’d heard from residents that there’s a need for a public restroom and Wi-Fi access in the area now that the library has closed.

Luke Stowe, the city’s interim director of administrative services, said the city has applied for a grant from Comcast to provide Wi-Fi service at Independence Park and some other locations around the city.

He said he hopes to hear whether the grant will come through within the next several days.

He added that other internet service providers now have similar programs that could provide funding for the service if the Comcast deal falls through and that the city could also provide it using its own infrastructure.

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