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Residents gather for new Crown Center dedication

Evanston residents gathered in brisk fall weather today for the coronavirus-delayed dedication of the new $53 million Robert Crown Community Center.

After years of planning and effort along with the help of more than 1,350 donors, the Robert Crown Community Center had its ribbon cutting ceremony today.

Lawrence Hemingway.

Lawrence Hemingway, Director of Parks and Recreation and Community Services for the city said the Center “offers us the opportunity to deliver diverse programming to the community.”

The Crown Center.

The Center includes a 6,000 square foot library, a DCFS-licensed, certified pre-school, a high school regulation size gymnasium, two NHL-size ice rinks, an indoor running track, art facilities, three artificial turf fields and more, Hemingway said.

Jeremey Bargianear and Chelsea Ridley.

Chelsea Ridley, a skater and skating coach said, “I grew up skating here at the old building. I’ve been skating here for 23 years, and it is amazing to see this new building. This is our new home! I’m so excited!”

Steve Hagerty.

In a speech, Mayor Steve Hagerty said, “So many life building skills can be built here. This is an investment in our community. This is the crown jewel of Evanston”.

Miguel Ruiz, manager of the new library branch, said, “The center provides access to resources and helps build connections in this neighborhood. We want to build and create a space that welcomes everyone, so that they can say ‘This is my library’. We’re excited its finally real.”

Karen Danczak Lyons.

Library Director Karen Danczak Lyons said, “Our library programs represent what you asked for. We want to do our best to serve you. We’re your library and we will continue to build a library to serve all of Evanston”. She also said the Robert Crown Branch includes bilingual staff.

Evelyn Ramirez with her daughter Esmeralda.

Resident Evelyn Ramirez, who visited the new library branch with her daughter Esmeralda, said, “We live down the block and we said ‘Yes!’ when we heard about the new library.”

Hockey players using one of the center’s two ice rinks.

Pete Giangreco, a board member of the Friends of the Robert Crown Center, said, “There are a lot of people who thought this could never come true, but we have nearly 1,400 donors who saw the need and stepped up.”

“Our goal was to raise $15 million and we have raised $14 million. It wouldn’t have happened without our donors.”

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Barbara Freeman

Barbara Freeman

Barbara Freeman is an Evanston-based photographer and video producer and owner of Freeman Pictures.

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