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…that folks have a little less than two weeks to talk on their cell phones while driving. Beware the Ides of March, for that is when cell-phone talk will be banned. But the time for speeding in school zones (thankfully) has passed. While police are easing scofflaws into school safety by launching “educational enforcement,” TG hopes that no one will drive thoughtlessly or unsafely, putting our children at risk.

… that, effective next month, the City will offer six months of reduced-price parking on the top most deck of the Sherman Avenue garage. The parking day for this bargain fee ($50/month rather than $85/month) begins at 9:30 a.m., so most commuters will not find it handy. The City officials who designed the pilot program are hoping to get the downtown employees currently addicted to on-street parking and meter-feeding out of what should be customer street-level spaces and into the garage. Applicants have to prove employment with an Evanston-based business.

… that the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) will soon start its program of rejuvenating the Orrington Avenue Leg Intercepting Sewer in the downtown area with the CIPP method used by the City’s contractors as well. The CIPP is cured-in-place pipe. Briefly (and skipping over a lot of steps) a resin liner is placed inside an old pipe (and some of ours are a century old) and hot water is sent in, essentially melting or easing the resin sleeve into the pipe. This method saves a lot of digging. The chemical odor from the resin, says the City’s Water Guy, Dave Stonebeck, will be noticeable at times. He says although there have been complaints about the smell, no one has ever reported harm from it. Mostly the work hours will be 7 a.m. – 5 p.m., but during the curing itself, when water may have to be shut off temporarily, the crews will work overnight.

… that ComEd is applying to the City to install some overhead equipment pretty high above Prairie Avenue, adjacent to residences at  2675 (replacing the 35-foot pole with a 40-foot one and installing a disconnect) , 2709 and 2713 (replacing the 35-foot pole with a 50-foot one and installing a 3:1 transformer bank) 2723 (replacing the 35-foot pole in the alley with a new 45-foot pole to be located in the parkway. How nice.)

 … that Granite Investment Properties would like to subdivide the former Kendall College site into 19 lots for “single-family residential use.”

… that Presbyterian Homes is asking the City for permission to replace the 51 independent-living cottages built more than 50 years ago with 54 new ones and to construct a new 32-unit apartment building of all two-bedroom units.

… that Chiaravalle Montessori School is buying the building at 425 Dempster St., designed by Daniel Burnham and formerly housing District 65’s Miller School. Chiaravalle wants to tear down the north addition and construct a new 10,000-square-foot school addition. Seems the school is purchasing only the building; the park remains a public park.

… that two Northwestern University students, Christian Thiemann and Daniel Grady, won first place in the 2009 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge for their video that uses “Where’s George?” data to track how people spend money — and therefore move — across the country. Check out the video on NU’s YouTube site, Tiny bills stretch out from county to county on a map of the contiguous United States. Some places, such as Los Angeles, have many bills passing through from across the nation, while others, such as Anderson County in Tennessee — Grady’s home — have bills circulating mainly within a more local neighborhood. The “Where’s George” software allows anyone to record a bill’s serial number and then track its journey as other people spend it across
the country.

… that lots of people in Evanston seem to know about flying squirrels, as evidenced by these letters from our readers:

TG: The photo sent in by Linda Bechtle, shown in the 17 Feb. issue of the RoundTable, is indeed a flying squirrel – more specifically, the southern flying squirrel, Glaucomys volans. They are native to the area, and live in scattered places all around Evanston. They tend to live in places with large trees, especially oaks.  Because they are nocturnal and quite shy, they are rarely seen – but when they are, it is often at a suet feeder during the winter, when they crave fat to get through the cold weather. This is the time of year when they breed, so there is often an increase in activity.

– Lawrence R. Heaney, Curator and Head, Division of Mammals, Field Museum

TG: Linda Bechtle indeed took a great photo of a flying squirrel. We live on the other side of McCormick in Skokie and see them almost every evening when we put out peanuts for them. We bought a peanut feeder for the birds about five years ago and discovered that it attracted flying
squirrels. They aren’t very skittish around people, as Linda observed.
– Melanie O’Callahan

TG: Re flying squirrels: I have seen them for years. They feed at night and will scurry up a tree when frightened. I have seen them “fly” glide across three properties with arms outstretched – pretty cool. The picture above is of the one that got into the house. – Dave Reesh

TG: We have a steady presence of flying squirrels in the tree canopy around our house, at Bennett and Harrison. I have been aware of them for about ten years. On warm summer nights you become aware of their presence by their nearly bird-like squeaking as they move about. They have a distinct appearance, just as is seen in that photo on p. 17 of your Feb. 17 issue. – Stephen H. Carr

TG: It is a flying squirrel in the photo on page 17. They are about the size of the palm of a person’s hand. We have them residing in a large tree in our backyard on Grant Street. I’ve been seeing them for many years. They are nocturnal. They love to feed on the suet, as it is a high-energy food for them, especially in the winter. I keep my suet basket supplied throughout the year since I first discovered them in our tree. – Jim La Rochelle

And more wildlife: TG: This is one of the two coyotes that was taunting the Dewey Neighborhood the morning of Feb. 22, caught posing for Michael Molinaro. After a few moments they both disappeared into the abandoned rail line embankment west of Mason Park. – MM

From TG: Thanks for all the animal information. TG is interested in all critters that share our sidewalks, parkways and streets.

The Traffic Guy Thinks …

… that the City’s capital improvement budget will be a little less this year. TG longs for the day when the sidewalks of Evanston will again be walkable. They’re pretty good on a clear, bright day, but when it’s dark out or under a cover of snow, the sidewalks can be treacherous, because they are so uneven.

… that, since the City owns only two of the many bridges over the canal here, it’s great that one of them is the Bridge Street bridge. The other one, less poetic, is the one over Isabella.