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November 21, 2017

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Posted: Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Community forum entry by: Sari Kadison-Shapiro

This letter concerns the Albion project. The developers propose a 15-story building that is almost as wide as the entire block with insufficient parking and 273 rental units, most too small for families.
Citizens who are opposed to the building have packed several meetings with overflow crowds.
The incremental changes offered by the developer still require huge variances from the City's zoning codes. I am writing to urge our city council to reject this development not only because of the impact it will have on all of Evanston in population density and traffic congestion (already a problem) but also on aesthetic grounds. This is an ugly, outsized structure shoe-horned into a too-small triangular lot up against the CTA tracks...a behemoth on stilts, set over a warehouse-like box. Several architects have expressed how wrong this is for the lot and for the city.
The downtown plan cost the city a quarter of a million dollars in 2009 and was crafted by five consultant groups. The plan calls for this block of Sherman to provide a transition into the neighborhoods to the east and west. How can you ignore the woman in a wheelchair who has lived here for 5 decades and begged you to consider a vision of this block as friendlier to pedestrians? As the former zoning commissioner, Seth Weinberger, as well as the former council member urged you, "Follow the plan!"
As Mr. Weinberger said, "The proposed building is the antithesis of a transition. It continues the mass of the Rotary Building into the D4 district. The combination of the variances being sought for height, FAR and ziggurat setback would enable the developer to build a structure that is more than double the volume of what could be built on this property if the height, FAR and ziggurat setback requirements were complied with. That is not a ‘variation’ that is an obliteration of the zoning code.”
We can do better.



Posted: Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Community forum entry by: Mamata Reddy

Resistance Should Be Expected. I understand that some Council members were upset by the tone of Monday’s meeting.

Yet, Ald. Don Wilson could say that he considered the block on Sherman “essentially vacant”. That must come as news to the five existing restaurants on the block other than Nevins and Prairie Moon and other businesses. And no, given the fiascos at 1590 Elmwood (10 month street closure) and Fountain Square, assurances from the city lack credibility, sorry.

Is every block without high rises “essentially vacant”? Is this how Alderman Wilson represents his constituents?

Meanwhile, at the same meeting a proposed restaurant in the Central -Crawford area was rejected over neighborhood concerns about parking and safety.

Do such considerations not apply downtown?

If the existence of current downtown residents is not respected, their resistance should be expected.



Posted: Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Community forum entry by: Donna and Kuan Su

Maintain Bessie Rhodes as a Global Studies School. Attending the November 6th District 65 school board meeting, the Bessie Rhodes community had just found out several days in advance that the District was going to add two strands of the Two-Way Immersion (TWI) program at Dr. Bessie Rhodes. When I first found out the news, I thought that it was a wonderful addition to our school until I realized that it wasn’t the school that was going to expand, it was the decrease in our current resources to make way for the TWI programming.
I was born in Evanston and grew up in the second ward, but to look at me, you would assume that I’m Asian because my parents immigrated here in the 1970s from Taiwan (if you have time, go look up the Chinese Exclusion Act where for 61 years, this law prevented a specific ethnic group from immigrating to the U.S. that wasn’t even repealed until 1943 but under severe limitations until 1965). I grew up with constant microaggressions of the fact that I am Asian-American. My husband and I have been Evanston residents since 2006 and chose to remain here to raise our family. We found an amazingly supportive community at Chiaravalle Montessori that saw us through some of our hardest times as parents struggling financially to provide a stable environment. The first time I toured Dr.Bessie Rhodes Global Studies School in December 2013, I fell in love with the school, from the diversity of the administrators, teachers and students to the Global Studies focus. For four years, we submitted our application to the lottery system. In 2017, we were finally accepted and it felt like a dream come true to provide that next step of educational stability to our two children, who are now in the 3rd grade and kindergarten. Isn’t that what we all do as parents? We provide stability for them with a place to sleep, food to eat, clothes to wear, and other essentials such as love, support, and pushing them to be better than us.
Entering the community, we have felt so welcomed by everyone. When my kids started, the joy that they found by learning Mandarin in school was a special one. For once in their life, everyone in the classroom was learning Chinese as part of the school curriculum.
There are a number of concerns that have not been addressed:
TWI is meant to be 50/50 TWS and TWE students and yet, District 65 currently has an inequity where there are more TWS students than TWE, so we need to rectify that issue by creating more TWI opportunities for these TWS
There is still a need for more TWI programming – currently, Washington Elementary has two TWI strands (two out of four classrooms are TWI), however the other elementary schools only have one TWI strand (Dawes, Oakton, Willard and Dewey) which creates an isolation for these students in the one TWI strand as they are together from K-5.
According to the report, there should be middle school support. However, under the current proposal, there is no middle school support for another 6 years since Bessie Rhodes would be starting from kindergarten only in Fall 2018.
Why was Bessie Rhodes selected? Is it because they are the smallest of the schools in District 65? Is it that they don’t have a particular dominant racial group or neighborhood with affluent taxpaying residents? Or is it due the turmoil of a revolving door with 7 different principals in only 9 years?
What resources are put in place for the TWI transition? What resources will there be to support the ‘old students of the global studies’ since they won’t be part of the TWI programming? What resources will be in place to ensure educational equity between the TWI students and the non-TWI students?
What assurances can be given to current administrators and teachers that have been highly valued by Bessie Rhodes families? How does this affect the lottery system for a magnet school? Does this decrease the chances to getting into a magnet school now that 50% of the slots will go to TWS families? And then, priority goes to younger siblings? How would that work?
Since this is a 9-year transition given that Bessie Rhodes is a K-8 school, what other resources will be in place to support the current TWI programming, especially the single strand communities?
What I have seen is a variety of parents come forward with concerns– if you look at those who attended that November 6th meeting–the speakers were primarily parents of color – African-American, Latina, Asian-American, and Caucasian. We may not always agree with each other’s priorities or viewpoints, but we come from different social identities and backgrounds. Bessie Rhodes parents made a choice to send their children to a global studies magnet school.
The parents that I have spoken to, we want Bessie Rhodes to have the diversity, stability and growth our children deserve. We also need to be brave to take the risk to learn new things and take the risk to keep trying. Either way, Bessie Rhodes is going to need support, whether they can overturn this District vote of Bessie Rhodes or if the school has to prepare for a transition of families leaving. My Evanston is diverse and rich in history, culture and striving towards equity of all types, and in this case, it’s about educational equity.
Please sign our change.org petition to petition the District 65 Board to slow down and take consideration of the situation first:
https://www.change.org/p/district-65-board-protect-our-teachers-and-preserve-our-diverse-community-at-bessie-rhodes-school?recruiter=4967793&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_page.share_redirect-control






Posted: Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Community forum entry by: Steve Cohen

Upset With Vote on Albion Project. I understand that some Council members were upset by the tone of Monday’s meeting.

Yet, Ald. Don Wilson could say that he considered the block on Sherman “essentially vacant”. That must come as news to the five existing restaurants on the block other than Nevins and Prairie Moon and other businesses. And no, given the fiascos at 1590 Elmwood (10 month street closure) and Fountain Square, assurances from the city lack credibility, sorry.

Is every block without high rises “essentially vacant”? Is this how Alderman Wilson represents his constituents?

Meanwhile, at the same meeting a proposed restaurant in the Central -Crawford area was rejected over neighborhood concerns about parking and safety.

Do such considerations not apply downtown?

If the existence of current downtown residents is not respected, their resistance should be expected.



Posted: Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Community forum entry by: Greg Williams

Open Letter to City Council Regarding the Albion Vote. It was truly disheartening to be present for the cursory commentary and final approval vote to allow the Albion Proposal for 1450 Sherman Avenue to proceed. Disheartening in the face of the outright dismissal of the Zoning Code, the massive presentation of the building on Sherman Avenue, the distorted tenant profile, and all the poignant protest of over 60 citizens, through several meetings.
Disheartening to look ahead to the chaos that will surely ensue with the onrush of oversize proposals that will certainly follow now that the Council has made this statement: THERE IS NO EVANSTON ZONING CODE.
I apologize for what may have seemed like vitriol from those of us deeply opposed but the Council should not be surprised given the magnitude of the issue, the valid reasoned outcry, the little reasoned discussion and finally to be confronted with stonewall silence from aldermen who through two meetings cannot produce even a single word to support their foregone acquiescence.
Truly astonishing was the admission that the Council has now provided the developers with a new mechanism to abuse the approval process: the “PUBLIC BENEFITS.”
First noting that Public Benefits which directly improve the development site itself do not actually comprise a “Public Benefit,” the Aldermen proceeded to divulge that through private meetings with the developer they had secured “Public Benefits” that were special to them and thus the expressed rationale for their otherwise unconsidered Yes vote.
I envision the developer community this day preparing lists of special items to curry favor with the Aldermen.
This revelation in itself should disqualify and nullify this approval “vote.” Real reasoned review should ensue.



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