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

The meeting began about 6:05 p.m. and awards are being given now to students who participated in a art contest related to the 100th anniversary of the city’s water plant.

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

Payroll and bills approved.

A3.1 – Open Kitchens Inc. of Chicago contract for summer food service program. Estimated cost $86,200.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, suggests that in future should try to get an Evanston firm to run the program.

Joe McRae, parks director, says this is the last year of the current contract and will be going out to bid for next year.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, says she doubts any local vendor would want to assume the obligations and responsibilities that are required under this program which is funded by the federal government.

Says haven’t had any problems with this vendor. Says it’s very difficult to meet the guidelines — wouldn’t want to put most potential vendors through the hassles.

Approved.

A3.2 – Northeastern Illinois Public Safety Training Academy membership dues. $23,545.

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, asks how this compares with the relationship, new last year, with Skokie for training at their facility.

Fire Chief Greg Klaiber says its a separate operation. Says the NIPSTA site provides accredited training courses. City does regular weekly training at Skokie tower and in Evanston. Does training twice a year at NIPSTA as well as various classroom courses.

Approved.

A3.3 – Crack Sealing Contract extension $70K to Denler Inc. of Mokena.

Rainey asks staff to take a look at other ways of resurfacing or reconstructing streets. Says there shouldn’t be a need for crack sealing so soon after resurfacing. Says roadways in Europe don’t have these kind of potholes and problems after just a year or two after paving.

Seems we’re always fixing things after paying a fortune to have streets paved.

Should look at best practices — even it it costs more, Rainey says.

Public Works Director Suzette Robinson says she’s asked staff to take a look at the city’s process for paving. The polar vortex wreaked havoc on the roads. Has been some buckling of roads where wouldn’t expect it to occur.

Says may look at going to greater depth on grinding. Also looking at concrete as alternative for heavily used roads like Sheridan Road — but that’s a lot more expensive.

If grind and resurface but don’t catch problems with the base — they tend to reflect through back to the surface and break it up sooner.

Will cost more to do that, but road will last much longer.

Rainey says should look at other areas around the world — they have bad weather too.

Robinson says when doing state and federally funded projects have to use what those agencies require. Says have more discretion when are paying for the project with city capital improvement program funds. Will have testing program in place for paving contracts this year.

Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, says concerned that may be problems if pavement is laid when its raining. We’re paying lot of money for the work, Burrus says. Need lot better oversight of construction projects — building as well.

Robinson says city has a resident engineer in addition to a material testing firm. They are not physically present all the time, but are there at key points in projects.

Says a light drizzle tends not to be a problem but heavier rain can be, and city has shut down projects when there’s too much rain.

Sat Nagar, city engineer says asphalt and concrete mix has to be approved by the state.

Burrus asks whether there is what amounts to be a monopoly on suppliers.

Nagar says there are plenty of suppliers, five or six for asphalt and at least two concrete providers.

Says testing is done of concrete and asphalt samples.

Says probably need to do deeper grinding. Says the bottom layer of most streets in Evanston is concrete and when the asphalt top layer is ground down it tends to lead to shifting of the base.

Nagar says the its typical to do crack sealing on paving about three years after a road is repaved.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, asks for cost-benefit analysis of asphalt versus concrete.

Robinson says that that will be part of what the city consultant will be asked to do for the upcoming Sheridan Road project.

Approved.

A3.4 – Sherman Plaza rodent abatement contract with Landscape concepts Management Inc. $44K.

Grover says had 19 reports from 311 or rodents last year and 4 so far this year.

Rainey says heard concerns from Optima Towers, across the street, about rodents moving over to their side of the street.

Rainey asks whether the downtown special service district is involved in paying for the project.

Robinson says became aware of this during the Church Street paving project last year. Contractor made city aware of it. City asked what kind of system could be installed to keep the rodents out. Says seemed to work very well.

Says its just one element of rodent abatement. Says Health Department has baited various areas downtown and surveyed the area. The planter work is just one element in plan to abate the situation completely, Robinson says.

Rainey says restaurants and bars really need to keep area clean. Need to really crack down, she says.

Lot of problem is education, Robinson says, people are throwing food in the planters.

Rainey says every carry out restaurant is required to have a litter plan. Thinks enforcement is slight. They need to clean up.

Says staff and landscape people are doing a great job, but can’t overcome the trash and garbage if it keeps coming.

Approved.

A3.5 – Contract with Christopher B. Burke Engineering for Sheridan Road Design. $265K.

Rainey … wants more detail on who contractor was chosen.

Grover … says wants to include the university in the planning so can maximize benefits.

Robinson says NU will be included in the planning discussion. Project could change the face of Sheridan, which is their front door.

Will also be making tours to ward meetings citywide to get feedback on what people want to see.

Approved.

A3.6 Contract with Steiner Electric for Arrington Lagoon Lighting. $26K.

Rainey … why no quote from North Shore Lighting, local firm.

Stephanie Levine, city staff architect, says they don’t represent the product, but they’re not a representative for that product and felt they couldn’t provide a competitive price.

Approved.

A3.7 A. Lamp Concrete Contractors water main replacement and street resurfacing project. $2.1 million

Approved.

A4 Community Choice Electricity Aggregation Supplier Agreement

Catherine Hurley, sustainable programs coordinator, 

36 month term with 100% renewable energy mix .076___ for first two years and .06923 per kwh for last year.

(Didn’t catch the name of the new vendor. Will add that later.)

A5 Amending the plan of operation for city electricity aggregation program

Approved

A6 Agreement with Cook County Assessor for GIS system access

Rainey complains about dated information in the system.

Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons says will try to get the information updated.

Approved

A7 Amending Minority, Women and Evanston-based Employer and local employment program

Grover says real question is how do incentivize local employment. There’s the carrot and the stick. Carrot is producing local employees who are qualified to do the work.

Asks if discussed other percentage amounts.

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Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, says committee looked at programs in other communities.

Lyons says got data just over past few month by hiring contractor to gather it.

Says committee liked percentage penalty because it was a similar hit regardless of the contract size. Flat rate $100/day penalty would be insignificant on a very large contract.

Lyons says no community our size has a program like this in Illinois. Chicago does, but towns like Peoria, or Springfield or other towns.

Already knew that peer communities in the northwest municipal conference — like Arlington Heights and Schaumburg — don’t have such programs either.

Grover says the 3 percent proposed seems to be a big jump.

At some point doesn’t that become a deterrent to doing business here? she asks. Would like to see Evanston workers employed not just here but in Skokie and Wilmette as well.

Holmes says since we’re such an exciting city, we need to set the pace. Doesn’t think we’re going to drive business away.

Braithwaite says 43 percent of contractors aren’t compliant with the requirements.

Says proposal doesn’t change the requirements — except for the penalty amount.

Says staff and committee have made a tremendous amount of progress on the issue.

Says there are qualified union workers in Evanston, but businesses choose to overlook them.

Rainey says there’s no reason why contractors can’t comply. Only thing changing is that the punishment is more severe. Says those who bid should accept the conditions.

Says when it comes to hiring contractors for the proposed theater project on Howard Street — some of the out of town contractors dropped out because there was no way they could compete with the five percent preference the city gives for Evanston-based contractors.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says he’s concerned about additional cost that may be passed on if contractors just increase their bids to cover the penalty cost.

Asks that hold the issue until late May meeting.

Rainey says would like to require contractors to put funds in escrow for the salary of the local resident.

Bobkiewicz says there’s concern that qualified bidders won’t choose to participate.

Would like additional time to gather data.

Braithwaite says it’s just for introduction at this point. Have had at least a year to discuss it. Part of concern is that are getting ready to go onto construction season. Doesn’t want to delay.

Rainey says wants to see data for the last three years or so. Make a billboard with their names on it.

Approved.

A8 – Charnge to parking rules for Howard Street and Custer Avenue. Approved.

A9 – Parkinc changes for Greenwood, Hinman and Forest. Approved.

Discussion item: Newspaper Boxes

Public Works Director Suzette Robinson says there are 223 boxes now … down from 298 in 2012.

Says bike racks and pedestrian lighting added to Church Street has reduced the number of available spaces.

Says wants to consolidate boxes to improve look of streetscape.

Looks to example of box clusters on Northwestern campus.

Now 46 different locations. Wants to reduce them to 17.

Says each location would have two sets of four boxes each. So total number of boxes would be cut not quite in half. Says there are now no more than 7 boxes at any of the locations, but about 30 different publications are represented at different locations around the city.

Says corral-type boxes cost $1,400 for a four-box units.

Cost $100 more to get ones with a gable-style roof.

Rainey…any freedom of speech issue with eliminating boxes?

Grant Farrar, corporation counsel, says doesn’t believe there would be because it relates to right of way issues. Given staff reports considers the proposal to have a reasonable basis.

Robinson says permit is supposed to be acquired for boxes in right of way, but that hasn’t been followed in the past. Now would have to apply to place papers in the box, but wouldn’t regulate who goes in.

Holmes notes that there are no boxes now on the west side.

Bobkiewicz says wanted to start with where there are concentrations now.

Says will reach out to the vendors to get permits for the areas. Says could certainly go to 20 or 22, but less than have permanentlhy.

Rainey asks who are you going to eliminate and not have a box. What are you going to do when two new raggedy boxes out there.

Robinson … will contact the business and ask them to remove within 48 hours.

Rainey asks how are going to decide who gets to have their literature in our box?

Robinson…looked at maximum number of different papers at the intersections, trying to provide diversity

Rainey says — its sort of like censorship — I love it she says, but getting into problems.

Rainey .. what keeps somebody from coming along and taking out the material that’s there and putting theirs in instead?

Robinson says looking for possible additional locations.

Discussion item, so no vote tonight.

Meeting adjourned at 7:30 p.m.

P&D to start at 7:40 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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