Recap: City Council

Here's a recap of our live coverage of tonight's Evanston City Council meeting.

A packet and additional presentations with information on tonight's agenda items are available online.

Meeting called to order at 7:29 p.m.

Eight aldermen present, Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, is absent.

Presentation of "award for extraordinary service" to Public Works supervisor Hank Daniels for assisting another city employee who fell seriously ill at work.

Luke Stowe does presentation on new "Open Evanston" data portal.

Says has live connections for some data sources, requires periodic exports of data from some other sources.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, says "this is fabulous." Says would be great for neighborhood meetings to gather information on their neighborhoods.

Public Comment

Mayor says have so many speakers, each will get only about two minutes

Brad Dunlap, on behalf of Evanston Youth Hockey Association, supports proposal to update Crown. Says the association is the largest buyer of ice time at the rink. Would love to have facility renovated — but new two-sheet facility would be the preference. Says a new facility would provide economic development opportunities, bringing more visitors to town.

Ruth Hudson … says 100 percent behind renovation, 1000 percent behind new facility.

David Ballard says physical space at Crown is falling behind, says other facilities have commercial opportunities suggests there should be opportunities to generate revenue.

Peter Kaplan, commisisoner for Evanston AYSO, says supports improvements for all sports. Says fields have fallen way behind. Fully behind supporting improvements to Crown, as well as the fields.

Robert Crown Center — special order of business

Related story

John Ronan, of Ronan Architects, does presentation of possible renovated or new Crown centerl

Copy of presentation here.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, says she's totally opposed to another — a fourth — library, especially at a cost of $2.5 million — for a proposed 5,000 square foot library branch. Says have a bunch of schools with libraries and a university — why do we need another library?

Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons says still in a design stage — whether to have a library is a decision for the council.

Observation is that the library would be almost as big as a half-sheet ice rink.

A rendering of a possible renovated and expanded Crown Center.

A rendering of a possible new-construction version for a new Crown Center.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, says the renovation project– which would take the main ice rink out of service for a season — would be a huge setback for the city's ice recreation programs.

Wilson says wants to make Crown a real community center that won't smell bad and leak any more.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says seeking tonight for approval of issuing request for proposals for a professional fundraiser to help raise funds for the project.

Mayor says believes city should commit $10 million in general obligation bonds for the project, plus $2.5 million for the library branch.

Mayor says that as a hockey parent for many years believes Crown is an essential part of the community — but also believes $10M is a major commitment for the city.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, says likes the idea of taking the rest of the year to see if can raise the funds to move forward..

Grover moves approval of SP2 — the proposal to hire a fundraiser.

Rainey says wants more information on how the fundraiser would be paid, before the vote.

Says thinks there's a professional code for fundraisers and doesn't think it's considered ethical to pay them based on how much they raise.

City manager says whichever way the council is comfortable with could be included in the RFP.

Proposal to seek fundraiser is approved unanimously.

Rainey says city has hired fundraiser before to support a city-built performing arts theater downtown … that fundraiser, I don't think, raised 25-cents, she says. One of this issues, she says, is that we didn't work closely enough with that person.

Motion to also direct staff (as proposed by the mayor)to work with the fundraiser with a tentative deadline of the end of this year and updat the council next January on progress. Carries 6-2 with Holmes and Rainey voting no.

Public Comment

Dan Joseph, 1510 Greenwood, says Emerson-Ridge-Green Bay intersection should have the lights all turn red so pedestrians can cross any way they want. Existing triangle is like a roach motel, he says, if pedestrians get there, they can't get out.

Nancy Streenan (sp?) says proposal is inadequate for bikes — that should make this dangerous intersection safer for all users.

Jim Larochelle, 2104 Grant St., opposed plans for new bike path through Ladd Arboretum, says doesn't want to see it turned into a "transportation thoroughfare."

Various other people speak against paving the arboretum path.

Cindy Beeby argues that reducing traffic lanes on Green Bay will snarl traffic.

Others also complain about Green Bay proposal.

Nathan Halliburton, says kids are walking down McCormick and he's concerned that children will end up being killed for lack of sidewalk through the arboretum.

Public comment ends at 9:22 p.m.

Consent agenda

We'll note anything taken off the consent agenda. Off consent agenda:

  • A 3.9 – Emerson/Ridge/Green Bay engineering contract
  • A 6 – Sale of property to National Towel Service
  • A 8.2 & A 8.2 – Ladd arobretum bike path
  • O 1 – TIF forgivable loan agreement with Azzurri of Evanston

Consent agenda approved.

A 3.9 – Emerson/Ridge/Green Bay engineering contract

Holmes moves approval of option three (two-way traffic one lane each direction with center turn lane).

Says there were five public meetings on the issues — says she's very comfortable with the feedback she's received.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, says she's going to vote against the proposal. Says she doesn't see it working, not practical.

Approved 7-1. Fiske votes no.

A 6 – 1821 Ridge sale to National Towel

Holmes says staff to prepare new ordinance (not specifying purchaser).

A 8.1 – Ladd Arboretum bike path funding agreement with IDOT

Holmes moves. Grover seconds.

Tendam says he's fundamentally opposed to the proposal. Says can make arboretum more accessible, but are approaching it the wrong way.

Suggests declining the grant and using the money set aside to do other handicap accessibility projects. And approach the arboretum accessiblity issue at a later date.

Rainey suggests considering A 8.2 — the engineering contract first. If council wants to do a path, she says, then we need the grant. Should decide what thep plan is first.

Fiske says that Rainey's proposal makes perfect sense to her.

A 8.2 – Ladd Arboretum engineering contract

Holmes moves to temporarily withdraw the motion regarding A 8.1 and moves approval of A 8.2, the engineering contract.

Wilson says doesn't want to pursue the path project (in line with what Tendam said). Says he originally voted for the asphalt path, but upon deeper reflection and revisiting the area —  says this money is for a transportation corridor, not for recreational service or parks. Says makes sense to desire to do that — but doesn't think this space is well designed to do that. Says he's persuaded that preserving that environment is more significant that creating the transportation corridor. Says should be better maintained, though. But doesn't know that it needs to be done 12 months a year.

Fiske says she agrees with Tendam. Says it is an arboretum. Says understands people wanting to get from one palce to another, but the path is designed tu support the arboretum and that there are other ways to get around. Says city does terrible job of maintaining trails that are not of some hard material. We're just not keeping them ADA compliant because we're not doing a very good job of maintaining them.

Holmes says she's conflicted by way talk of "community." Says there were 11 speakers at last meeting. Says we have very vocal people who speak out. There's a ton of other poeple out there who may never show up to speak. Feels very strongly about who can and should use anything that's paid for with tax dollars.

Says she's not going to vote to spend a lot of money — I voted for the asphalt, she says. Believes the trees will keep it cool. We have learned how to maintain those, she says.

Says has three point — not so much about a transportation mode for bikes –though understands what grant is for. But the kids who walk in the middle of McCormick and the Over the Rainbow, where the wheelchair using residents live. Says wants to speak on their park.

Any taxpayer who pays taxes. Says her knees are so bad that she needs the asphalt path or will fall down.

Says its all taxpayers money — irresponsible to say don't do anything. It's unacceptable for me as a person, she says to not do anything.

Sometimes make decisions based on the number of peole who come to pseak. that's unacceptable, she says.

She says she wants to go with the cheapest option for a new path.

Grover says she's worked with Holmes to get residents to cross the channel and make connections between the neighborhoods.

The channel, she says, operates as a psychological barrier. Says arboretum doesn't belong only to people who live north of the channel — but all of us.

Quotes resident who says she wants to look at the trees, but is too busy watching her footing.

Says path project was approved last year. Staff has invested a lot of time and effort in developing the project. Says its not inexpensive to maintain a gravel path. Will be turning away almost $600K in public funds from the feds.

Says her first choice would be permeable concrete, but not sure can afford that and her second choice would be asphalt. Need to put it in motion and get it done.

Mayor Tisdahl says was vehemently opposed to the sidewalk. Police did study says no need for sidewalk, arboretum is very narrow. Another path not needed. But is heartbroken about comments on diversity and inclusion … that have not been present in this discussion or debate. Says very sorry to have heard what have heard over past few months. Says arboretum committee needs to work on diversity and being inclusive.

Wynne says grew up in town with magnificient arboretum in Pennsylvania. Loved to play in it. But says feels very strongly that this should be available to everyone in Evanston. Recalls wheelchair bound resident form Over the Rainbow who says "Greetings temporarily-abled people."

Says would hate to think that arboretum would be inaccessible to people

Says asphalt is not her favorite surface, but she's going to support this project to make everything in Evanston as accessible as possible. Also doesn't want to turn down money. These granting agencies look at your track record, she says.

Rainey says to assume that current path is not accessible is a false assumption. Says it could be accessible most of the year with proper maintenance and care. Says staff's track record in securing grants is wonderful. Moves that not hire the consultant and vote in favor of maintaining the current pat.

Holmes objects that there's a motion on the floor.

Substitute motion made to speicif asphalt.

Vote ties 4-4. Mayor breaks tie voting yes.

Votes against the resoultion were Fiske, Wilson, Tendam and Rainey.

8.1 – Arboretum bike path funding agreement with IDOT

Amended to specify asphalt. City manager says will come back with specific budget at future meeting.

Vote again ties 4-4, and mayor breaks the tie voting yes.

P 3 – Frio Gelato special use (final approval)

Approved unanimously.

O 1 – TIF forgiveable loan agreement with Azzurri of Evanston (Valli Produce)

Wilson says disappointed that nobody's sticking around for the $2 million item on the agenda.

Says he didn't vote for the TIF to start with and not inclined to vote for this request. Says it's phase one of a $9 million ask.

Says the previous owner purchased the propoerty for $8 million and sold it for $16 million. Thrilled with the project, but sorry that the profit is going to somebody else.

Braithwaite says wants to thank council for the foresight in approving the TIF when Dominicks was still there.

Says the new owners show up ready to work every day, don't show up in fancy suits, have been responsive to the neighbors and the local business community as well.

Says he too gets concerned when we write these big checks … but when look at jobs created and the sales tax revenue thinks the dollars will be well spent.

Wynne says she's supporting the agreement, but wants to amend to negotiate with Azzurri to hire youths for summer youth program. Believe they're happy to participate in the program, though may be difficult for this summer.

Holmes accepts amendment to that effect.

Tendam says he voted against the TIF, but will support the request this evening. But has reached his limit for what can put into this parcel. Thinks was ill-conceived to begin with. But think company will do great things for the neighborhood.

Holmes says will vote for this, but not predicting whether will vote for more. Will depend on type of vendors brought into the community. Mall is a great place but needs some attractive vendors to come in there.

Approved 7-1. Wilson votes no.

Call of the wards

Fiske … 1st ward meeting Tuesd, March 3 and EPL 7p.

Wilson … 4th Ward meeting Wednesday, 7p at McGaw Y.

Holmes … event for renaming of Boocoo building Saturday, March 28 at 3p

Grover … Housemoving next week, she thinks. From the Whole Foods Green Bay parking lot. Very early in the morning.

Rainey … Says next to ending the low income fuel assistances program, the Rauner cut to muncipalt revneue sharing is about the worst thing the governor has done. "He's absolutely dangerious, as far as I'm concerned," Rainey says.

Meeting adjourned at 10:23 p.m.

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