City consultants unveiled a new report Tuesday on options for repairing or replacing Evanston’s Civic Center.

But the on-screen presentation by architect Carol Ross Barney was filled slide after slide of print so small that nobody in the audience could read it.

And city officials refused to provide printed copies of the study to the audience, saying there were math errors in the available version that made it inaccurate.

The report, based on six months of work by consultants from five different firms, outlined seven options for housing city government, including rehabbing the existing building and constructing a new civic center either on the same site or elsewhere in town.

The alternatives include selling off portions of the full-block current site for residential development to generate some of the funds needed to pay for the project.

The aldermen, who did have printed copies of the report, briefly discussed which option they should favor, but decided to postpone that decision until a meeting to be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23.

City officials have promised that a corrected copy of the report will be available soon.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Squinting at the Civic Center’s future
    Dear Evanston Now,

    Thank you for keeping me informed about this issue. I am astonished that the City Council and other Departments at the city of Evanston continue to ignore the +80 % of the voters who told them in an advisory referendum last year that WE THE PEOPLE want to retain (and restore) the stately building and property which is Evanston’s Civic Center.

    It is an insult to waste our tax money on studies that rehash (over and over again) old ideas that comprise the “seven options”. I wish to ask the Council… that in light of the current budget crisis, please stop wasting our tax money – and asking me for more and more. Fix the roof ASAP and take the renovation one step at a time.

    Thanks I feel better now. Yours sincerely, Brian G. Becharas – Citizen, Activist, Volunteer, lifetime resident & overtaxed taxpayer !

    1. You the people
      ” I am astonished that the City Council and other Departments at the city of Evanston continue to ignore the +80 % of the voters who told them in an advisory referendum last year that WE THE PEOPLE want to retain (and restore) the stately building and property which is Evanston’s Civic Center.”

      According to the Daily Northwestern, 3970 voters supported keeping the Civic Center (82.3%), while 858 (17.7%) voted against the resolution. ( 4/17/07 article, online).

      It should also be noted that when asked if they were willing to pay for keeping the Civic Center, 1682 (48.35%) voted yes, 1797 (51.65%) voted no.

      Oh yes…I know what you are going to say…the bond issue was phony..the cynical aldermen put that there, with an exaggerated cost, to scare people and make it seem like repairing the Civic Center was too expensive when really staying in the Civic Center is less expensive than moving…whatever.

      OK..but that is not the point.

      According to the Cook County Clerk’s website, the number of Evanston residents who voted in the November 2004 general election was 36,164

      Even if we assume that voter turnout in November 2004 was 100% – which we know is not true – and that the population of Evanston remained the same ( contradicting the claims of ‘overbuilding’ )…this means that 11% of the voters of Evanston came out to support the Civic Center. The remainder either voted against keeping it, or did not think it was important enough to vote on.

      Not only that…even the figures above do not truly demonstrate Evanston’s apathy to your cause. Turnout was exceptionally high in the 6th Ward – and 7th, to a lesser degree- compared to the rest of the city.

      WE THE PEOPLE of Evanston, especially those of us outside the 6th ward, stayed home, because a non-binding advisory referendum was just not worth our time. A small group of people who feel passionately about keeping the Civic Center showed up at the polls. The aldermen are right to ignore them.

      I see that some of the anti-tower people want a referendum. I understand why ..most people will stay home, while the “activists and lifetime residents” – will come out, and they will win by a landslide (maybe 1200 votes to 300 ?).

      Aldermen should consider all the information, and do what is best for the city and their wards – not just pander to a bunch of ‘activists’ from the 6th and 7th ward.

      Another problem is that these ‘activists’ are never responsible for paying for their decisions. If the ‘activists’ want to repair the Civic Center, let them pay for it. Same goes for every other development project that the ‘activists’ want. If the ‘activists’ want to stop development at Kendall, let them make up the lost property taxes. If the ‘activists’ want a library on Central Street, they should pay for it.

  2. Squinting at the Civic Center’s future
    I’m in complete agreement with Mr. Becharas…Further discussion, studies, and meetings for a new Civic Center is a waste of time and money we don’t have. We are in a “budget crisis” and the mere thought of even more of a tax burden on Evanston residents as currently stands is mind boggling. Aside all past referendums or voting, our City Council members must certainly be aware that a new building or moving to a new location is financially out of the question. The current facility can and will continue to serve The People efficiently and efffectively until such day arrives when the ledger books show we can afford it.

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