With the economy tanking and tank prices skyrocketing, one could do worse than vacation in Evanston this summer. Outsiders say the City is attractive because it is such a quick train ride from Chicago. We say it is intrinsically attractive because of its local beauty and culture.

Need we say lakefront, arboretum or parks? Should we mention our four local theatre companies – Fleetwood-Jourdain, Next, Piven and Piccolo? Or the Evanston Art Center and the Noyes Cultural Arts Center? In addition, many coffee shops and restaurants allow local artists to exhibit their works. The unique décor or atmosphere makes dining there an enjoyable cultural detour. Others offer outdoor dining or simply wonderful food.

We have houses and institutions with local or national landmark status. We have a museum dedicated to a pioneer for women’s rights and founder of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union – the Frances Willard House – as well as one celebrating the great mugs in ale-drinking history – the Toby Jug museum. We have a fossil museum and a museum dedicated to the American Indian.

And the Chicago Architecture Foundation has just added a walking tour of downtown Evanston to one along the Lakefront.

It would probably take more than a day to appreciate Evanston’s many public art pieces.

And that is just the permanent stuff. In summer, almost every weekend is dedicated to a festival – Custer’s Last Stand Festival of the Arts, the Fountain Square Art Festival, the Fourth of July celebrations, the Ethnic Arts Festival, the Lakeshore Arts Festival.

Are you exhausted just thinking of the possibilities? Then grab a fishing pole and head to the pier off Church Street or get your beach token and your library card and choose your own summer adventure.

Memorial Day observances this year took place at Fountain Square, with a test-run of the new bubblers for the fountains.

It was during last year’s Memorial Day services that Mayor Lorraine Morton said publicly she was embarrassed by the look of Fountain Square and asked the City Council to see that it was fixed up in time for services this year.

The tug-of-war continues between the pro-tower and the anti-tower factions – which may ultimately determine the long-term fate of Fountain Square – but the weak real estate market may temporarily put plans to either move or rehab Fountain Square on hold for a few more years.

If that is the case, we suggest the Council revisit a suggestion made several months ago by the Parks/Forestry and Recreation Department: Fill the fountains and the area with potted trees and plants.

This would not only make the place beautiful again, it would accommodate the temporary status of the place, so that when final plans are made the trees and plantings can be carted off and planted permanently to beautify another section of Evanston or perhaps at a rehabbed Fountain Square.