Evanston aldermen Monday are scheduled to approve a fundraising strategy for a new recreation center to replace the more than 40-year-old Robert Crown Community Center.

Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons told residents at a 2nd Ward meeting Thursday night that a new ice rink facility is likely to cost at least $30 million — more than 10 times the $2.5 million that it cost to construct the existing building.

Lyons said the City Council has committed $10 million in city funds toward the project and the library board has pledged $2.5 million toward the cost of a branch library planned for the new building.

He said the goal is to raise the rest of the funds from private donors — but that if the gifts fall short, the existing building could be rehabilitated for a cost of about $18 million.

To answer possible donor concerns about diversion of the funds to other city projects, the proposal to be discussed by aldermen Monday calls for creation of a separate foundation to oversee the capital fund donations.

And to provide some assurance that once the city has the new building it will maintain it adequately, the plan also calls for creating a separate city fund to provide for long-term maintenance of the new facility.

The fundraising plan developed by the city’s consultant, Community Counseling Services, provides naming opportunities ranging from the entire complex for a gift in the $5 million range down to a multi-purpose room for a gift at the $100,000 level.

It raises hopes that the city may be able to find one or more multi-million dollar donors to the project.

But it lays out a more detailed strategy for recruiting larger numbers of smaller scale donors — ranging from nine to 18 “leadership gifts” of $100,000 to $500,000 each, through 26 to 35 “major gifts” in the $25,000 to $50,000 range, to 175 to 180 “community gifts” of $10,000 or less.

It envisons four overlapping fundraising phases which would focus first on landing the biggest gifts and not start the “community gifts” phase until March 2017.

It calls for establishing a “Core Campaign Leadership” group of three to five people immediately and expanding that to a 10 to 20 member “Campaign Executive Cabinet” over the next 12 months.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Try first things first
    Before trying to make it a branch, try making a ‘study hall’ to find out what use will be made of it.
    The argument is always students need a place to study and a look at books at the North Branch and the old South Branch quickly shows they have none of the books even Middle School students would need for research or checking out. Putting books there would be a waste and make the collection at the Main Library even more limited–there is only so much money. If students need books while they are at Crown, have them request the Main send them over—one day transfer as Northwestern has done with much of their Reference collection and books they think are not used much [a bad assumption].
    Since there had been a branch on Simpson some years ago, someone should explain why it failed before creating another branch.

    If so many students need a library with books for class or even a study hall type facility, maybe have a bus that leaves Crown at 6 PM for the Main and returns to Crown at 9PM.

    1. Librarians or libraries?

      You assume that libraries are about books, not information.  Kids need a librarian who can help them find and evaluate what they need.  Their school librarians can give them a start, but more outside of school would help. Not just  (and not primarily) books.  So much of EPL is not even in the building.  Except for the librarians.

      1. Teachers Librarians Students
        Teachers rule all in terms of setting the evaluation of sources as they provide the final grade and they might not agree. Additionally, students are not necessarily going to ask a librarian for assistance.

      2. You make my point.
        How many students now ask for librarian support like you talk about at their schools or EPL ?
        You point seems to indicate reference or tutoring staff are needed more. Certainly much cheaper than also stocking with books that are no help.
        I am all for education but not just creating branches, or throwing money at projects without knowledge, feed-back and addressing real problems not imagined ones from people sitting in remote chairs and dreaming what “must be done.”
        Use pilot project to test what is needed and works.
        You still did not answer why they don’t go to the Main ? Will the Branch staff be as well trained as you imagine the North Branch is or even Main is as you suppose.

    2. This branch library would not
      This branch library would not just serve older children; there is a preschool program at Robert Crown. I’m sure they would love to have the resources that an on-site library could bring to them.

  2. 40yo building is not old
    This is a waste of resources to tear down and replace the building. If anything, the existing building should be remodeled. This seems like throwing away taxpayer money.

    1. Fixing-Up Crown?
      Have you been inside the structure? All the compressors, etc. are from 1975…as well as the electrical/plumbing items. There is a huge need for 2 more locker rooms. The building leaks, the day care area needs expansion and bathrooms, and the gym leaks as well. The building is not ADA compliant, and the list goes on and on……millions needed. It’ll pay in the long run to start over, than to keep making it a fixer-upper.

      1. zenone
        I assume that you or a person you know is an expert and know for sure that we will be better off spending 10’s of millions going with the new and pretty than spending millions on the fixer-upper.

        I don’t know which would be the best way to go. Maybe you can expand this in a way that could let all of us know why you choose the new and approved way.

        I don’t care about the library throwing in millions of taxpayer dollars to gain another library facility.

        1. Fixing Crown?
          That would depend on what the final architectural plans would include….library? larger preschool area? second main sheet of ice? As it stands right now…..there is leakage all over the building, it definitely needs to have 2 extra team rooms…(no place for girls to change, who play hockey…..or on the adult teams as well)…the existing 4 team rooms are in great disrepair….there is minimal storage for equipment of all types for all the programs…..the skating instructors and guards need a secure place with lockers for their equipment…there is barely room for skating equipment…..the participants’ lobby lockers are too small……and there is no way for persons with special needs to be accommodated regarding using the bathrooms, opening doors, entering and exiting the building, etc….the garage area is very cramped with the two ice resurfacers..and much more. Please refer to the study that was done, with proposed needs for a new facility…..I don’t feel any of this is outlandish. These are the basic items needed, (and more), in order to make the center meet the needs of the programming and participants. LOTS of things to consider, for sure. Sometimes it’s just not good planning to patch things when there is SO much that needs to be replaced.

          1. Thank You

            You made some good points but the new facility, if built, should be a functional facility. Lets hope that the city council shows that level heads will rule the day.

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