Here’s a recap of our live coverage of this evening’s Evanston City Council Administration and Public Works Committee meeting.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

A packet with information on tonight’s agenda items is available online.

Meeting called to order at 6:11 p.m.

Minutes approved.

Payroll approved.

Bills approved.

A3.1 – Aerial Ladder Fire Truck purchase.

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Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, asks whether any not-for-profit property tax exemption are contributing to the cost. Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons says no.

Rainey says staff should go out begging, or shaming, to get help with these purchases.

Says anyone who gets service will know how valuable it is.

Fire Chief Greg Klaiber says the oldd truck the new one is replacing will be sold for scrap.

A3.2 – Wheel tax fulfillment service with Third Millenium Associates. Approved.

A3.3 – Insituform Technologies contract for Cleveland Street sewer rehab. Approved.

A3.4- Rock salt purchas contract extension — at higher price — of $84.56 per ton. Approved.

A3.5 – Dempster Street beach boat rack expansion project $73K Midwest Fence Corp. of Chicago. Approved

A3.6 Baltic Marine Services Inc. contrat for water craft maintenance. Approved.

A3.7 – Methane monitoring systems for Levy Center and Dawes School $42K Approved.

A3.8 – Payment for additional James Park landfill testing for underground methane. $106K. Approved. Assistant city attorney says this is a more sophisticated round of testing to determine definitively what’s the source. Current thinking is that it’s probably not from the landfill, but that’s not confirmed.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, asks what if the source is something else.

Told that in that case city will pursue claims against whatever entity may have caused the gas.


A4 — postponed for the moment

A5 – Chicago Avenue improvement project design. Presented by city engineer Sat Nagar. (Details are in packet.) Says plan is to provide bikes with their own traffic signals for new bike route between Davis Street and Sheridan Road.

Nagar says will provide a comfortable and safe connection from the NU campus and create a loop between the existing bike lanes on Church and Davis streets.

Rainey asks whether any additional meetings are scheduled on this. Nagar says are planning to discuss at an upcoming 7th Ward meeting.

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Nagar says there’ll be no street widening and no impact on trees.

Some on-street parking will be removed and other parking that’s now un-metered will become metered parking.

Says less than half of the spaces in the Church Street garage are now being used and therefore it should be able to make up for the lost parking. Plan is to limit parking on the first level of the garage to two hours, with first hour free.

Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, says she’s extremely opposed to the plan. Says haven’t been enough meetings on it. Worried about eliminating parking downtown — because people want to park at meters close to businesses.

Says project is in conflict with economic development goal to bring more people downtown.

Says its dangerous to add bikers on Chicago Avenue because there’s so much congestion already.

Also doesn’t like the plan to add more bike traffic at the Sheridan/Chicago intersection.

Says it’s not coordinated with the proposed bike route along Sheridan Road.

Suggests using Hinman Avenue, where it’s a lot less congested.

Grover says connection from downtown to lakefront is the next phase — not part of this project.

Says safety is a paramount concern — says cyclists and pedestrians are aleady on Sheridan and Chicago. Says question is how to engineer a solution that provides protection for them.

Says have to balance all the factors — cars, pedestrians, bikes, and parking.

Says bike-friendly city is good for business, too.

Says need a north-south connection from downtown to campus. Says cyclists are already on Chicago Avenue … not on Hinman. Says its like what ETHS did in putting sidewalks where the students were already walking. People will take the shortest route, she says.

Says have great engineers working on it and have come up with a good solution.

Rainey says at her ward meeting there was extreme concern about the way bike lanes have been done all over the city. Asks how people are supposed to know that bike lanes are going to be discussed at a 7th Ward meeting.

Public Works Director Suzette Robinson says there was a city-wide meeting on July 19. Says city has $1.4 million grant to do the bike-lane portion of Chicago Avenue. Adds that there is streetscape work that is also desperately needed.

Says timing is the issue — that’s the first project that consultant is going to start building in the spring — need to get IDOT approvals so can start working in April next year. Planning to do the Sheridan Road part starting in June of next year.

If can’t do it next year, will have to wait until 2017 because have Emerson, Ridge and Green Bay projects coming up in 2016.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says he’s concerned that staff and council are not in sync. Says staff needs a clear direction. Says need direction from committee or full council.

Grover says a couple of weeks ago preliminary discussion of bike plan got derailed (in discussion of one stretch of Davis Street).

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, suggests going to full council, not just the committee.

Rainey moves that the overall bike plan and this project be special order of business at a special meeting.

Grover says that would be helpful

Bobkiewicz says could have special meeting on Sept. 29, a fifth Monday, now free night now for the council.

Holmes suggests switching it to third Monday of September instead.

Committee approves a motion to that effect.

A6 – TIF redevelopment regarding Evanston Plaza. Moved to hold to next meeting (Sept. 8).

A7 – IEPA borrowing. Approved.

A8 – Surplus vehicle sales. Approved.

A9 – Mumbai Grill liquor license. Approved.

A10 – Ten Mile House liquor license. Approved.

A4 – Police and Fire Pension Actuarial Report

Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons says report offers two assumptions regarding interest rate — 6.5 percent and 6.75 percent.

Says Moody’s is recommending 6 percent and Fitch is a 7 percent regarding what they consider to be a responsible assumption regarding investment return on pension funds.

(If the assumed rate of return is lowered, it means an increase in the required amount that has to be contributed to the pension funds next year.

Art Tepfer, the city’s actuary, says he believes 6.5 percent is an appropriate rate to use. Says hopes will do better — but can’t assume the market will cooperate.

Says want to build up assets, provide a managable approach for the city, and have the current generation of taxpayers pay for the benefits of the current staff.

Burrus says she favors using the 6.5 percent rate.

Rainey says there’s lots of quibbling over what’s the right percentage.

Committee votes to accept the report … with the 6.5 percent recommended rate … which means about a $700,000 larger contribution to the funds next year than if had used the 6.75 percent rate..

Meeting adjourned at 7:12 p.m

Planning and Development Committee meeting to start in about 10 minutes.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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