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May 24, 2018

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Posted: Monday, May 21, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Ms. Jimmie McRaith

Kindergarten Readiness
It is good that Evanston educators are finally going to address a fact they have always known, but largely ignored: no school can make up the difference in achievement between a child who has spent the first five years of life in a home with well-educated people and the child who has not had that advantage.
Those crucial years when the human brain undergoes its most rapid growth require enormous input to ensure a child’s best possible development.
May the grand undertaking by “more than 40 organizations” meet with great success. It will enrich us all!

Posted: Monday, May 21, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Richard Miller for Better Bridges

To All who have supported the Campaign for Better Bridges in Evanston
On May 11, Alderman Eleanor Revelle forwarded to Project Manager Sat Nagar the final decisions regarding revision of the Phase I design process for the Central Street Bridge.
I want to express my profound appreciation to Mr. Nagar, who has one of the most difficult jobs in the City of Evanston – providing effective management oversight to numerous engineering projects in the field, while attempting to explain those projects to residents in terms they can understand and will accept, while also moving things forward on schedule and within budget. It is an impossible job and he does it well. Likewise to Director David Stoneback and City Engineer Lara Biggs.
My equally profound appreciation to Ms. Revelle who, as alderman of the Seventh Ward, maintained a dialogue with me through thick and thin, and accompanied me on my quest to understand bridges and bridge-building in Evanston. She has developed a real base of understanding and the ability to exercise good judgment on bridge questions. That she can maintain a sunny disposition through it all, and has the stamina to maintain her grueling meeting schedule, is quite amazing.
Thanks to the board members of Central Street Neighbors, Canal Shores Golf Course, Sissilla Condominiums and Evanston Terraces, who discussed and debated bridge issues. Thanks to the many other individuals who joined in, and who contributed to the development of the ideas I promoted. Thanks to everyone who has thought more about bridges over the past five months.
Your support was crucial to our obtaining a 13th-hour hearing.
I want to express my very personal appreciation to all of the government officials in the City and in the Illinois Department of Transportation, who have taken time to read my submissions and to think about the concerns they raised.
My appreciation to Paul Schneider of Stanley Consulting for his professionalism under fire, and for his extra thirteenth-hour effort with Mr. Nagar to produce feasible improvements in the plans.
Finally, special thanks to the design professionals at Design Evanston who debated how to turn my discussion of values and principles into tangible images, and especially to architect David Galloway, who spent many hours he did not have available, thinking it through, turning ideas into beautiful drawings, and responding to the twists and turns of a confusing and frustrating process for which there just was no time.
While always hoping for the best of outcomes, I pursued the aesthetic issues knowing that it probably was too late to achieve what can only be achieved by having engineers and architects both involved from the outset. I was told that the door was closed for any changes in bridge type and established dimensions, and I made a deliberate determination that I would not seek to stop the project, but rather to use it as a learning tool to prepare the City and the rest of us for a radically different approach to the next bridge at Lincoln Street.
In the end we came remarkably close to achieving something really special. Ultimately, that was not possible under the presently applicable bureaucratic requirements administered by those who control the purse strings, who do their best to ensure that bridges and highways are as safe as they can be, but who lack working procedures suitable for in-town bridges with lower traffic speeds. Even they showed as much flexibility as they thought they could justify.
With their concurrence I believe we will have succeeded in removing some of the most glaringly-ugly features, like the corrugated steel guardrails that were to adorn each corner of the bridge. We have substantially improved the railing treatments. Improvements also are in the works for the lighting and landscaping during Phase II soon to begin.
We have gained a profound new understanding of how the system works, and how it can be made to work better in the future. We have demonstrated an ability to work productively with the City of Evanston, the nonprofit Design Evanston organization, and even the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Lincoln Street will be a new ball game, and we will be back.
Many thanks for all of your support.

Posted: Monday, May 21, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Emmanuel Jackson

Alum Thanks YJC and ETHS
Relationships are essential to building bridges to opportunities. There has been no stronger bridge for me than the relationships I built in Evanston that have lead me to a wonderful life.

Last weekend I attended the 35th anniversary for the Youth Job Center of Evanston (YJC). I sat at the table with the founder Ann Jennett. Ann, YJC and ETHS has played a significant role in my experience and success. At 17 years old I was asked by Ann to be a founding board member in 1983. I transferred to ETHS in 1981. I had a horrible speech impediment. I couldn't say my name, answer the door or phone. My stuttering in some ways crippled me, I remember crying myself to sleep at night because of it. ETHS would change all of that for me. As a student at Dunbar Vocational High School in Chicago I would rarely see a speech therapist. AT ETHS I would do so almost every day for two years. My speech therapist Marjorie Burkland was tireless in her efforts to help us. I can remember her collaborating with the communication department at Northwestern University to give me additional services. It was great getting exposed to the Northwestern campus.

The day I transferred to the high school I needed a job. I was happy to discover the school had job placement center. I met Ann Jennett who I felt had a genuine interest and compassion for students, especially the poorer ones like myself. Working two jobs while in high was hard work. Ms. Burkland used to say to me that she would know how bad I wanted to remediate my speech by how hard I worked. Being able to communicate gave me dignity. Work gave me dignity. Due to the resources from ETHS and the 38-year relationship I have with Ann Jennett and her family I am now the founder and President of Evanston Technology Partners (ETP). We were recently awarded a contract with Vizient to provide their 3000+ member hospitals with IT Security Services and Products.

ETP is located in the Bronzeville community where I am originally from. This spring we will open the Bronzeville Cyber Security and Innovation Center. We will provide CyberSOC services to companies throughout the United States. I am often asked to consider changing the name of my company. I always tell them my Evanston story and it becomes clear that I will never change the name. We were recently awarded a $500,000 TIFWorks grant by the City of Chicago to get our employees trained and certified to become Concierge Security Engineers. I still have a dream of opening a similar operation in West Evanston. In many ways for me West Evanston and Bronzeville will always be connected.
Ann Jennett and ETHS kept the hope and the promise of Evanston. It is my hope that the community continues to support YJC and ETHS and honors the legacy of Ann Jennett.

Posted: Monday, May 21, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Jeff Balch

Strong Support for PBLs
In a May 3 article titled “Dodge Avenue Bike Lanes To Remain Unchanged,” which covered a city committee meeting on April 23, you reported that “numerous residents spoke, about two-thirds in favor of maintaining the protected lanes and one-third in favor of the proposed tweaks.”
Actually, of the 13 residents who spoke, only one did not support maintaining the Protected Bike Lanes. I tracked the speakers myself and also double-checked the City’s video after reading your article. While it’s true that in other forums multiple speakers have lined up on both sides on this issue, at the April 23 meeting the level of support for PBLs was 12 out of 13.
But I see a broader problem here than tabulation. A number of local articles have tended to underreport public support for the PBLs. This feeds a perception that the core issue is one of balancing close-call interests. I don’t see it that way. While I understand the challenges created for some residents by the PBLs -- they frustrate me too sometimes -- I see the core issue as sustainability. Emphasizing motorist accommodation is not a sustainable approach. Emphasizing alternatives, such as cyclist accommodation, is more so.
I write as both a motorist and a cyclist. I drive Dodge sometimes. I also bike it. When there’s congestion and friction and you’re at the wheel, you tend to define the problem as the other drivers and the PBLs. But the chief problem is too many cars in that corridor. How to address this? In the long run, difficult as it may be, the core answer will be to reduce car traffic (and the related demand for curbside parking) while creatively assisting residents with less car-centric accommodations. Generations hence, current policies of motorist accommodation will be seen as regrettable at best.
Because the problem is deeply rooted, solutions are hard. The main solution is a shift toward sustainability. The dozen residents who spoke in favor of PBLs on April 23 reflect a growing acceptance of this difficult truth.

Posted: Monday, May 21, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Lucia T. Miller

Make the Harley-Clarke Mansion Accessible
As the discussion about the future of the Harley-Clarke Mansion drags on, I continue to wish that the interior will become accessible to all, including seniors like me, who would enjoy being able to sit by its large windows and enjoy the wonderful views of sand dunes and lake, with children playing on the beach in summer and gulls and terns gathered in winter. And always the lake, the elegant, sustaining waters of Lake Michigan.
This marvelous structure reminds us of days long gone. I love the reminder of a leisurely, gracious life-style few of us lived but which is preserved there in its carved blonde woodwork and intricate stone. At 90 I can’t romp through the dunes or play on the beach, or even find a good spot to sit and enjoy the lake, but I yearn for the privilege of enjoying them all again from a comfortable vantage point.
Whatever other good uses the building is put to I hope that my peers and I would be able to enjoy the view.

Posted: Monday, May 21, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Ed Bryant

Lessons From the Harley Clarke Debacle
The RoundTable and the Evanston Review both carried stories this week detailing how the City Council opted out of a proposed lease agreement with a local nonprofit conservation group with no funds to live up to the terms of the lease. All of the options for preserving Harley Clarke Mansion have been explored. Not one is left. The mayor implied that there may be no alternative left to demolishing the mansion and moving on.
Regardless of what happens in the future, this should be an educational moment for all of Evanston. Back when many options were on the table, Jennifer Pritzker proposed buying the mansion and turning it into a top-notch hotel. She also promised to preserve the adjoining parkland for public use, to place parking under the remodeled structure and, in the process, to end the otherwise endless City expenditures by the City for the building. Her proposal would have also placed the mansion on the tax rolls, producing a win-win situation for the City, its taxpayers and those who use the parks.
Instantly after the Pritzker proposal, Evanstonians mobilized a public relations campaign to object to the sale of parkland. Lawn signs went up across the City. The campaign was successful to the extent that the City Council was cowed into rejecting the proposal, despite its obvious advantages to Evanston taxpayers and park-goers. For the sake of a generally good principle, the campaign did a terrible job of analyzing the alternative courses of action. Ignoring the fact that the City did not have the funds to maintain the mansion and that there were no other groups or people on the horizon with sufficient funds, they pressured the City Council into keeping a huge wasting asset. They forced their elected stewards to be terrible stewards.
The City Council should have made the rejection of the Pritzker proposal contingent on the willingness of the Save the Parks Committee to finance the remodeling and to be responsible for the leasing of the mansion. But, alas, the campaign served only to leave the City high and dry and in a position to spend more tax money to demolish the mansion. An educational moment indeed.

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