Evanston’s City Council is scheduled to approve an intergovernmental agreement later this month with the Village of Skokie for shared use of the village’s fire training facility.

The Skokie Village Board gave preliminary approval to the deal Oct. 1.

Under the agreement Evanston will pay $286,000 toward capital improvements for the drill tower at Skokie’s Fire Station 17 at 8157 Central Park Ave.

Evanston Fire Chief Greg Klaiber says that under the deal Evanston will get to use the facility for its own training a quarter of the time. Skokie will us it for its training a quarer of the time. The two communities will use it for joint training a quarter of the time, and the rest of the time will be reserved for maintenance.

“This is a great opportunity for our community and we are very grateful to the Village of Skokie for their consideration,” Klaiber said.

A tour of the facililiy for Evanston officials is sheduled for 3 p.m. Monday, ahead of a City Council vote on the plan scheduled for Oct. 22.

The training tower was built when Skokie’s Station 17 was constructed in 2003.

Skokie Fire Chief Ralph Czerwinski said the two departments have conducted joint training exercises several times a year over the past two years, which led Evanston officials to recognize the advantage of having a dedicated training area.

Czerwinski estimated that a new drill tower would cost nearly $900,000 — not included land for the site — and said he’s pleased Skokie was able to offer Evanston “a cost-effective alternative” to building its own tower.

He said the collaboration is financially responsible and functionally appropriate and improves the abiliy of each agency to serve its community.

Skokie currently has a class one fire insurance rating from the Insurance Services Office, the highest available. Evanston recently improved its rating from a class three to a class two on the ten-level rating scheme.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Where is the cost of this in the budget?

    Where is the cost of this in the current budget?  Or will it be added to the 2013?  I thought the city already had a facility?  Where are the firefighters presently training?

    Given the capital plan is such a mess, and so much of it is really going for debt payment, and Wally needs to sell park land on the lake, does it matter? 

    I think it will be interesting when the firefigthers go to turn on a hydrant in the downtown  to fight a high rise fire and no water comes out since the 100 year old pipe under the street broke, all the training in the tower will not solve that problem. ( how many breaks of the water line on Central Street did we have this summer? )

  2. Enough with the negative

    Enough with the negative comments Mr. Ponzi.  This is a great opportunity for the fire department, and the city will be much better off because of it.  The water department in Evanston is one of the best in Illinois.  They will resolve the issue on Central.  And for downtown…the water mains are not an issue to my understanding.

    1. I agree

      I agree 100% about the negative comments.  Ponzi's consistently negative comments got old a long time ago. If the city said the sky was blue he would argue it was red.  His comments are too predictable.

    2. To Chris F from Ponzi RE: Water mains

      Chris – you state the water mains are not an issue in the down town – go to page 223 of the city budget -looks to me the city is wanting to use almost 5 million dollars out of TIF funds in the down town to replace water mains in 2014

      What have they been doing with the TIF funds all these years, beyond giving them to developers and putting down cheap concrete brick that last about five years?

      Looks to me all the streets in the down town have been paved over with new pavement which they will now tear up to replace the water lines.

      By the way will they do it in 2014 – not likely – due to lack of staff, and leadership.


  3. Ponzi never has a constructive alternative

    It is truly tiresome to see the endless criticisms that Ponzi offers.  I challenge you to be able to ever find a time that Ponzi actually offered a constructive alternative to any program or spending he opposes.  And the snideness of tone and superiority he uses is just plain hateful. 

  4. Another mistake or good use of public funds?

    The three comments on claiming I am a critic of the city, are true. Yes, I am a critic of wasteful spending and the continue level of screw ups and mismanagement. 

    The fire tower is interesting, the three of you should go to the city budget that was issued last night, Wally has already put this into his summary as a done deal!  I thought the council was suppose to vote on it?  By the way council members are suppose to be visiting the fire tower prior to voting on it, appears to be a council meeting – yet the city has not invited the public. ( not following  the open meeting act )

    Is this a good use of tax dollars or not, I would like to see some numbers beyond the capital costs. As this as being presented it continues to show me how little staff does their home work.

    One commenter on here suggested I never make a positive comment, go take a look at the so called council goals, one goal on there is one I have been stating for several years now, I think Wally well understands it, council or the Mayor did not put it on, that is the lack of Capital Planning. Wally cut Capital for almost two years, to try to get it straighted out. 

    The three of you who suggest I mean and hateful, Wally has cut capital, he is using operating expenses to fund capital.  Think of it this way, you are up to debt to your eye balls, you can't get a new credit card, so now you are using you pay check, taking money for food for your children to fund  your other expenses.  The expense of the $300,000 for the tower isn't much in the scheme of things but given the really poor budget situation the city is in, were is it coming from?  Go take a look at the budget, Wally is taking operating funds to fund capital.

    I did find it interesting this year, that most of the unions have settled with 2% increases, although I wonder about the steps, I think the union are realizing the poor situation  the city faces.

    By the way I have no position on this tower pro or con, I think employees should be trained, I just like to see, things done in a cost effective manner, given the fire fighters were already being trained, what was that cost versus the new cost? This is just a simple question, maybe one of you knows?







    1. Ponzi critics

      Many may harp on Ponzi, but they miss the essential point — he is really involved. He actually reads the budget. How many of his critics actually do that? He shows up at council meetings and tries to get his message across. Do you? Grammar over finances?

      Many criticize his negative views. Given our financial situation (pensions anyone?) and the state's, what is there to be positive about? Chatter about banning plastic bags? Wind turbines in the lake? How are they going to be connected to the grid — near Church Street and Edens? Powerline down Lincoln?

      Keep up the good work Ponzi!

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