Play ball inside recycling center?

Evanston aldermen voted Monday night to set up a subcommittee to try to figure out what to do with city-owned properties on Oakton Street at the northwest corner of James Park.

The Evanston Recycling Center at 2222 Oakton St. (Google Street View image)

Encouraged by strong interest from private developers in creating a new ice rink and recreation center less than a mile away at the Robert Crown Center, several aldermen see the shuttered building that once housed the city's recycling center and the animal shelter next door as opportunities for recreation-related economic development and potentially doing it without capital cost to the city.

And leaders of the Evanston Baseball & Softball Association were ready at the meeting with a proposal to turn the vacant recycling center into an indoor sports complex that baseball lovers could use in the winter off season.

Aldermen weren't necessarily ready to endorse that plan though, with some apparently seeing opportunities for a larger facility at the site.

In addition, Alderman Ann Rainey, whose 8th Ward includes the site, said she wanted the interests of people in the immediate area considered -- "treated just as special as people living near the lakefront are treated when it comes to how land there is going to be used."

Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, said the council should focus on the economic development potential of any new use -- including how much additional business it might generate for businesses along Oakton.

Randall Mayne, 321 Lake St., a member of the city's Playground and Recreation Board, which recently endorsed the baseball group's proposal, said that as a parent of three kids involved in youth sports he has ended up taking his kids out of town for indoor recreation opportunities. Bringing that home to Evanston would provide economic development opportunities for restaurants and other businesses, he said.

While Alderman Rainey was skeptical about the indoor recreation concept, Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said that while thousands of youngsters and adults participate in sports activities at James Park in the summer, it's little-used in the winter time and the indoor sports concept shouldn't be ruled out.

The aldermen also discussed the possibility of moving the animal shelter, just west of the recycling center, to a different location.

Gail Lovinger, 2225 Simpson, a representative of CARE, the volunteer group that largely runs the shelter, said the group isn't opposed to a possible move.

The group has been raising funds for a shelter expansion for several years, and Lovinger noted that moving to a new site would almost certainly mean added costs which volunteer fundraising would be unlikely to fully cover.

She suggested exploring opportunities to cooperate with nearby communities, including Skokie, on an expanded shelter, if the aldermen wanted to move the shelter to a new site. 

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Comments

Skate Park

When it comes to sport we are missing a skate park. A lot of suburbs in the Chicagoland area have excellent skate parks. Right now the many Evanston youth that are passionate the sport have nowhere to go. Any teenager skateboarding on streets, sidewalks, in parks or parking lots run the risk of being picked up by the police. Evanston effectively criminalized one of the most popular sports for teenagers. Here is a chance to create a safe environment for skateboarders, get them off the streets and out of shady warehouse areas where they currently try to find refuge.
The Shred shop is just down the street and I wouldn't be surprised if they would actively sponsor a skate park in the neighborhood. Matter of fact there might be a number of skate board related companies that would possible sponsors.
If Evanston decides to build a bigger recreation center let's make sure there is space for skateboarding as part of the plan.

Evanston demand for indoor Sports space

As an Evanston resident who lives near James Park, I think an indoor sports facility for youth and adults would be a huge benefit to the City for four reasons:
 
1) There is huge demand for off-season indoor practice space.  Parents are currently taking their kids out of Evanston to indoor facilities.  This demand is exemplified by the fact that a consortium of youth sports leagues have banded together to propose such a use for this empty City-owned facility. 
2) It would activate retail on the Oakton corridor. The additional traffic generated by such a use- as parents drop off their kids- would serve to generate sales at nearby businesses as it would be a convenient time for them to shop so more money would stay in Evanston. Conservative estimates are that such traffic could drive an additional $600,000 in sales to Evanston.
3) Their proposal comes at no cost to the City.  The City is struggling financially and the opportunity to create a community cultural asset at no cost and privately financed seems like a huge benefit to the City.
4) It would be an indoor sports facility for all Evanston youth.  Many of the youth sports leagues promoting this proposal offer scholarships for kids to play in their leagues.  This facility would offer indoor time for all kids of Evanston to practice and not just those who can afford expensive privately run sports training businesses outside of Evanston. 
 
I entirely endorse this use and think it would be a legacy project that the children of Evanston would benefit from for many years to come.  And one that I think all Evanston residents would be proud of.
 

Converting the Recycling Center is a great idea

 

As an Evanston resident who lives near James Park, I think an indoor sports facility for youth and adults would be a huge benefit to the City for four reasons:
 
1) There is huge demand for off-season indoor practice space.  Parents are currently taking their kids out of Evanston to indoor facilities.  This demand is exemplified by the fact that a consortium of youth sports leagues have banded together to propose such a use for this empty City-owned facility. 
2) It would activate retail on the Oakton corridor. The additional traffic generated by such a use- as parents drop off their kids- would serve to generate sales at nearby businesses as it would be a convenient time for them to shop so more money would stay in Evanston. Conservative estimates are that such traffic could drive an additional $600,000 in sales to Evanston.
3) Their proposal comes at no cost to the City.  The City is struggling financially and the opportunity to create a community cultural asset at no cost and privately financed seems like a huge benefit to the City.
4) It would be an indoor sports facility for all Evanston youth.  Many of the youth sports leagues promoting this proposal offer scholarships for kids to play in their leagues.  This facility would offer indoor time for all kids of Evanston to practice and not just those who can afford expensive privately run sports training businesses outside of Evanston. 
 
I enthusiastically endorse this use and think it would be a legacy project that the children of Evanston would benefit from for many years to come.  And one that I think all Evanston residents would be proud of.

 

Indoor Turf - YES!

 This community could easily support an indoor turf field.   The soccer community is constantly trying to piece together practice space and traveling out of town for games.   If the resources currently going to Highland Park, Palatine and Des Plaines stayed here in Evanston - that would be great.
 Indoor Soccer / LaCrosse, baseball -   If an indoor turf field could not support itself in this town, I'd be shocked.
Keep moving forward on this one.

Seems to me, baseballs and

Seems to me, baseballs and soccer balls can do considerable damage. (I dont know- I have not actually seen the interior design/layout. Just a snap reaction.) I am all for winter sports use. It just seems that somethin like tennis or hockey would be lower-impact on a facility that probably wasnt designed for heavy duty stick-and-ball sports. (Tennis and hockey are more apt to serve a wide range of age groups, as well.)

Cages

They use indoor batting cages for baseball.

We need a community water park!!

We should consider providing access to a community waterpark with the potential for an adjacent indoor facility for other activities for our community. Evanston has no outdoor community pool!
-Evanston already devotes acres and acres of land to baseball and soccer; we need to diversify our offering and land use. We also already have community gyms that are used for indoor soccer. Let's dedicate land use to a broader population of the community, including age spans of users.
-Currently, Evanston families need to travel to Skokie or Wilmette for this type of facility, which makes it difficult to access by walking or by bike.
-Not having a community facility excludes families from having access to water recreation because it's cost prohibitive for families to pay the exorbitant fees as non-residents in Wilmette, and the one-dayfees in Skokie (not everyone can afford a season pass)
-The beach isn't always appropriate as it's often closed on high-bacteria, high-wave days, or it's too cold, or you can't go in the water past your knees - "Swimming" at the beach is very limited.
-A community pool (if it's done right) can be a huge revenue generator as well as a draw for area businesses.
-There is inequity across people of different social-economic class and race with respect to the rate of drownings - offering a community pool will make water recreation more affordable and more accessible to EVERYONE and, I believe, help encourage more kids of all groups to learn how to swim.
This community is saturated with baseball and soccer, let's move on to offer more options to more people!

I think there are at least 8

I think there are at least 7 indoor pools in Evanston:
ETHS (2)
YWCA (2)
YMCA (2)
LA Fitness
Northwestern
You complain that you cannot swim at the beach, but if you really want to swim for exercise, an indoor pool is much better than an outdoor pool.  If you're swimming for recreation, most people would prefer the beach.  I would expect an outdoor pool to attract people only if they are recreational swimmers on summer days when the beach is closed due to weather or bacteria - a very small market share.
You have a point about drownings, but surely every ETHS student learns to swim if they have two pools? Perhaps cheap swim lessons for small children at the beach are a better idea.

Not sure 'affordable' and 'community pool' belong together

If you look around at other communities you'll see that none offer inexpersive pool experiences. The reason I presume is that the pool sits drained for nine months of the year, and that operating expenses have to be recouped in June/July/August.  We are blessed to have several very nice facilities nearby; yes, they are pricey, but to assume that Evanston would send millions on a similar (or better) facility and then offer a significant savings in comparison is a huge leap of faith.

Yes, I vote YES

We absolutely need a community outdoor swimming pool.  Our family gave up going to the one in Wilmette or Skokie because they are always so crowded.  I think there would be plenty of people willing to buy passes to a new facility right here in Evanston!

As a soccer player, Evanston

As a soccer player, Evanston is sorely lacking in available space during the winter. A group of us (40 players) are deciding whether we move our weekly soccer game to Highland Park for our indoor play. That's roughly $10,000 over the six months we play indoor going to another city.  There are plenty of other soccer groups like ourselves. 

Soccer

GR: didn't realize Evanston was a soccer player!!

Indoor Soccer facility

There's a huge demand for an indoor soccer facility in this area. Team Evanston sends teams to Highland Park, Palatine and beyond to play indoor soccer through the winter - and they pay good money for it too. They have some excellent facilities in some of the other distant suburbs, but nothing closeby. Not to mention the amount of adults who play soccer too. An indoor soccer facility in Evanston would be hugely popular.

excellent idea

Happy to hear that they're considering, um, "recycling" the recycling center.
I have to agree with the many who have posted here that we need an indoor turf field/soccer field in town. During the winter, much of the D65 gym space goes to basketball leagues, so soccer is "out of luck."
Besides, soccer is best played on a turf field, so better to leave the basketball in the gyms and make a turf field for soccer and baseball.
 
 
 

Turf Sports Center an Excellent Idea

I think converting the  recycling center into an indoor turf sports facility would be an excellent idea. 
Having children who grew up playing soccer in Evanston, I am aware of the lack of indoor soccer space for games and practices.   Driving to Palatine, Highland Park or DesPlaines, or playing in a small gym, as is done now, is clearly not ideal. 
A key advantage to a turf field is that is can also be used as a game or practice facility for a variety of sports; soccer, lacrosse, baseball, football, etc.   Due to the huge demand for this type of space for soccer alone, I know the facility would be put to good use, and provide a solid benefit to the community and its sports and recreation programs. 
Let's make it  happen.
P.S. I am also in favor of a new/updated facility at the Robert crown location for skating/hockey, etc, but feel the recycling center could most readily and cost effectively be converted into a turf type sports facility.

I think that there should be

I think that there should be a skatepark built there. There arent any skateparks in skokie or in evanston and I think it would bring a lot more buisness because kids after a long day skateboarding would buy food across the street at steak n shake and at plenty other places. Not to mention that there is a skateboarding shop down the street and I think that would bring a lot more buisness. Or If there is an indoor skatepark built a fee can be charged for entering and that would bring a lot of buisness because as a skateboarder there arent any places to go skateboarding during the winter and there arent any indoor parks near by

Yes, please, please build a skatepark for them

And get the little boarders out of downtown Evanston, where they wreak havoc for pedestrians and vehicle traffic. It would be patronizingly amusing to watch them in Fountain Square and on the planters in front of Barnes&Noble, if only it weren't so stupidly disruptive: They have to go to considerable effort to be there (dropped off by moms?), as opposed to their own driveways, cul de sacs and school playgrounds, and yet they feel so defiant and display such self-righteous attitude.

I agree that sometimes

I agree that sometimes skateboarders can get annoying downtown, I have skated downtown myself, but most of the kids including me skate there because we have nowhere to go. Driveways just dont cut it, and our mothers do not drop us off 99% of the time we either take the bus or skateboard to downtown and it not only takes very little effort but it also helps the Earth by not using a car to go somewhere. And we dont skateboard to be "bad" or "defiant" we skateboard because its a passion and a lifestyle and for many of us its a way to escape bad home situations. When we are to nicely leave somewhere we will leave. But I do agree that a skatepark would be a great way to get us out of everyones way.

Skateboarding is not a crime

despite what these old neocons would have you believe. skate on man.

Skateboards not just on sidewalks

They don't just use the walks, they go on plazas and courtyards and try to 'fly' over the steps. Twice my building has has step broken by skateboarders landing on them. You see them at Rebecca Crown and at least one large potted plant holder was broken. Same at steps at Norris and the library and Fountain Square.

Sell It

The city should sell the property outright to private investors and interests and use the proceeds from the sale to pay down (or off) the $1.5 M budget shortfall the city has.
Any left over proceeds should be used for community economic development or civic usage (i.e. skatepark, whatever).
Really amazing when an opportunity like this presents itself, how the city and others seem to completely forget that we are in debt.  Instead, it is what can you do for me and my special interest?

skate park

We desperately need an indoor skate park in Evanston. It could be a money maker if done well. I drive cars full of kids to Tinley Park and Milwaukee almost every weekend in the winter and there are tons more that want to go. It is good year-round exercise for kids who love a sport that does not have a huge infrastructure like AYSO is for soccer. There are sponsoring companies that would be thrilled to invest. Please please please at least assess the interest in an indoor skate park here or at the new Robert Crown.

A indoor turf facility

A indoor turf facility would be more than beneficial to the city of Evanston.  There are tons of football, lacrosse, and soccer leagues that would go crazy over the idea of being able to practice in the winter, close to home.  A pro shop along with the facility would generate a good amount of income as well, due to the lack of any sporting good store in Evanston, rather than travel the 25 minutes to Dick's Sporting Goods.