Evanston aldermen are scheduled to get an update tonight on long-delayed plans for a new ice rink facility at Robert Crown Park.

It’s been nearly four-and-a-half years since City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz first proposed that the city find a private partner to build and operate a new facility — an idea officials turned to after plans to collaborate on a new rec building with Evanston Township High School bit the dust.

In deciding to seek proposals, officials argued that the now 39-year-old rink is undersized and in need of substantial repairs or reconstruction.

Initial inquiries brought responses from eight firms. The city sought more detailed proposals from the three that looked most promising and agreed to spend roughly $150,000 on environmental studies and other research for the project.

But the more detailed proposals from developers ended up with widely varying features — and price tags ranging from $20 million to $55 million.

They also called for the city to provide revenue guarantees for the project, which could further strain Evanston’s credit rating.

And, amid reports of financial woes for similar projects in other suburbs, the project seemed to go into the deep freeze — with no updates from officials in over a year.

A city staff memo promises tonight’s report will review other centers in the state, analyze financing options and other project alternatives and recommend “next steps to move the Crown Project forward.”

But it provides no further clue about the substance of the report.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. This project appears dead
    I thought Wally was talking to one of the bidders? He had 3 bids. Ofcourse whats interesting the bids were a mess.The reason there was no real scope of work they were bidding on.

    Anyone see a pattern here? Similar to Harley Clarke. That is you put out bid documents that are incomplete with no well defined scope of work.

    The Bidders create thier own bids which are all over the place. Remember Harley Clarke was not for a large Hotel to be built. But to reuse the existing mansion.

    Twani spent their own funds creating a bid document, when the city should have in the first place created a clear bid document. In this case Wally paid three bidders our money to prepare bid documents, when it was clear staff did not even prepare one complete set of bid documents.

    The city is a mess. The errors in staff’s work is continual brushed over by senior staff and council members who past in on the consent agenda.

    One has to wonder what silly stuff we will see tonight about Robert Crown, I just got a letter in the mail for a 7th and 5th ward meeting to discuss skipping on the sidewalks, while I suspect the recent number of ward meetings is for polical purposes with the election coming, people should sent these public officials a message don’t vote for judges they support and vote against ending the township.

    1. What the heck are we doing????

      I really don’t understand our City Manager and our city elected officials.  The City of Evanston is broke!!!  That means we don’t have enough money to pay our bills, current debt and the under-funded pension plans.  What are we doing even looking at a 50 million dollar project?  Spending money we don’t have to design a place and take bids on a project we can’t afford!  It would be wonderful if we could afford these upgrades to Evanston’s facilities.  But we can’t! It may not be the best solution long term but we must fix things we have and get by until things get better.  It was not long ago, I was approached by someone to support the selling of bonds to build a new school and do some school remodeling in Evanston.  I told him I could not support borrowing money in this economy.  His response to me was: (We are not borrowing money. We are issuing bonds.).  Some people just don’t understand. Bonds need to be paid back! 
      I would love to turn our city over to some of our hard-working moms and dads that are living and surviving on fixed incomes.  They understand that you don’t even talk about buying new car or a new TV if you cannot pay for groceries and your pay mortgage and/or rent.  What the heck is going on here? Stop the madness!

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