Evanston City Council’s hand was out looking for contributions on July 13, as many agenda items focused on federal government assistance. With a battered economy, seemingly endless foreclosures, and a looming and ominous budget year approaching, Council is seeking federal and state help on a scale that, in the words of Eighth Ward Alderman Ann Rainey (the City’s longest serving Alderman) has never been seen before. With the Council’s limited agenda, the federal funding applications dominated, prompting Ald. Rainey to request, “Those of you who pray, start now.”
Again, a one-page agenda greeted the Planning and Development Committee. As with the preceding committee meeting, federal funding dominated the discussion. The City is seeking nearly $40 million in Neighborhood Stabilization funds [see article elsewhere] with an application heading to Washington, D.C., later this week. The City is also seeking $500,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency to provide loans of up to $10,000 to local businesses to make improvements to reduce energy consumption. And Council received news of a sort regarding earlier requests for funding: Interim Community Development Director Dennis Marino reported that Evanston’s application for $3 million in Neighborhood Stabilization funds, submitted in May, was a “finalist” among the applications submitted.
As for actual permit and zoning issues, the pickings were slim. Neu Uber Burger was granted a permit for a sidewalk café. A Fruit Chill restaurant won approval for a new restaurant at 1223-1225 Chicago Ave. And Berglund Animal Hospital received a special use permit allowing it to demolish its current structure and rebuild a larger animal hospital on the same site. Council has held this matter over for several weeks because staff realized that Berglund had been using City property as a customer-parking area. The City and Berglund negotiated a lease of those parking spaces, and Council approved.
Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl opened the actual City Council meeting by passing around a pen used by Governor Pat Quinn to sign a bill that included $700,000 for the recreation department (secured by State Senator Jeff Schoenberg, said Mayor Tisdahl) and $350,000 for the water department (at the request of State Representative Julie Hamos, the Mayor said). Nearly every item then sailed through on the consent agenda, and with call of the wards and Ald. Rainey’s request for citizen prayers for federal money, the meeting adjourned.