The Green Building Ordinance has been sent to the City Manager for adaptive re-use, but the Clark Street Beach restrooms are a go. And the new City Manager (see adjacent story) sat through all five hours of City meetings on June 22 without appearing to flinch.

Green Building Ordinance

Proponents and opponents of the proposed ordinance – which requires, among other things, that new construction and rehabbed buildings obtain silver certification of leadership in energy and efficient design (LEED) by the U.S. Green Building Council – still appeared too far away to effect a compromise on their own. Although there were many points of agreement on the proposed ordinance – that the City needs a green building ordinance and that builders and developers should be encouraged to incorporate sustainable elements and practices – most aldermen said they felt it was too heavy on the stick and too light on the carrot. Many objectors said they felt the requirement that builders put down a $50,000 deposit in effect to guarantee their obtaining LEED certification, was too steep and that it sent a message of distrust rather than encouragement.

Alderman Donald Wilson, 4th Ward, said, “While I do very strongly believe that we need an ordinance like this, I feel this is punitive.” Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, said, “I want an unambiguous, enforceable green building ordinance, and I don’t think we’re there yet. Can we consider pegging the deposit to be a percentage [of the cost of the proposed development]?” She also asked whether owners of existing buildings had been included in the discussions.

Aldermen then agreed to ask Interim City Manager Rolanda Russell to, as Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said, “make things work.” She added, “I’ll do all I can to help.” Ms. Russell said the aldermen would have a new version of the ordinance “by the first City Council meeting in August.” She has said she plans to leave office on Aug. 14.

Clark Street Beach Washrooms

First Ward Alderman Judy Fiske and some of her constituents requested aldermen to delay the vote on $1.7 million for the new facility at Clark Street Beach that would house restrooms, a concession stand and a beach-token check-in. Third Ward Alderman Melissa Wynne led (and won) the battle to approve the funds at the meeting.

Ald. Fiske said she thought timing and safety issues should be reassessed. Ald. Wynne said she felt the project incorporated three goals of the overall lakefront project – passive use of the lakefront, incorporating sustainability and making the washrooms and the lakefront accessible.

Township Budget

By a 7-2 vote the aldermen, sitting as trustees of Evanston Township, approved a $1.2 million budget for the township. Aldermen Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, and Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, voted against the budget, saying they did not think it had been sufficiently discussed. Under an intergovernmental agreement between the City and the Township, the City will use $300,000 of Township funds for its social services funding.

New Start for Wine Store

Sandeep Ghaey, one of the owners of Vinic Wine Company, which would like to open a specialty wine shop at 1509 Chicago Ave., received a warmer reception from Council than he did two weeks ago. Council members appeared likely to approve the shop – which would be considered a special use for that area – with certain restrictions: There would be no sales of cigarettes or hard liquor and the sale of soda pop could be only 20 percent of sales. The special use will likely be on the July 13 Council agenda.

Housing Assistance

The Council also approved three measures to help Evanstonians struggling with housing costs. About $5,000 in rent subsidy was approved for a client in the Families in Transition program of Connections for the Homeless. The single-family [home] rehab program, under which qualified homeowners may receive financing assistance to rehab their properties, was extended to include owner-occupied three-flats. In addition, Council approved a two-part package for Housing Opportunities Development Corporation (HODC) for its proposed rehab of 1929 Jackson Ave. HODC will receive a grant of $175,000 and a loan of $124,000 to rehab the two-unit building into two affordable rental units. Alderman Delores Holmes, in whose Fifth Ward the property lies, said, “We intend to change the neighborhood – we really intend to take this block back.”