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City Council faced a crowded agenda Monday night. Wide-ranging and rapid fire, the meeting covered shifting topics across a spectrum of City services leading Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, to comment at the end of the A&PW meeting, “This agenda [was] too big to give responsible consideration to. To do justice to it is asking too much tonight.” By night’s end, most of the work had been done in the committee meetings, leaving the Council meeting itself for proclamations and appreciations.
Council recognized employees with 25 years or more of service to the City with Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz handing out specially designed pins. About 15 employees will receive the pins, highlighted by Glen “Speedy” Sanders who began working for the City in the Streets and Sanitation department on June 23, 1969. Mr. Sanders plans to retire this year. Director of Public Works Suzette Robinson said, “Speedy has a fan club out there [among Evanston residents]… he will be missed.”
City Attorney Grant Farrar presented a “broad-brush overview” of the amendments to the state’s Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Act laws. The amendments, he said, make “providing records” in response to requests “a primary duty of public bodies.” Mr. Farrar concluded that the City is doing “the absolute best we can to comply with the law in all aspects.”
All through the committee meetings, the topic of nudity and sagging pants kept resurfacing. Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, closed out the meeting cycle “continuing the pursuit of the sagging pants issue” by pointing out that a physician’s report he read indicated that after 10 to 15 years of sagging, an abnormally high percentage of young men require reconstructive hip surgery. Joined by Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, he called for more dialogue and a focus on the “value system” of the community. Though sagging pants will not constitute nudity, Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, said, “I think we ought to define nudity.” (See adjacent story on Human Relations Commission.) An amended law will be coming in the next few weeks, and dialogue will continue in the battle against sagging.
The crowded A& PW agenda began with the contract for a new roof for the Civic Center. Finally, the scaffolding will be gone. Construction will begin within two or three weeks and the project will be completed by the end of October. The cost is less than $1.5 million –$2 million had been budgeted – and the contractor, G.A. Johnson, says he will hire an Evanston resident as a laborer for at least 790 hours.
The street resurfacing contract for the fourth year of the City’s five-year plan to replace water mains and resurface streets went to A. Lamp. Once again, they were not the low bidder, but won the contract because the low bidder failed to provide complete paperwork.
New bond counsel and bond financial advisors were hired on three-year contracts to assist the City with the release of general obligation debt. Bond counsel is changing from Katten Muchin Rosenman, LLP to Chapman & Cutler, LLP. The new financial adviser will be Public Financial Management. The cost will be based on the level of debt issued, but the City has budgeted $200,000 for bond issuance fees this year. Based on the documents provided, that would equate to about $200 million in bonds.
At Planning and Development, recommendations for the distribution of funds for the homeless were held in committee. The distribution of over $80,000 received from HUD under the McKinney Emergency Shelter Grant Program stalled when no one recognized one of the proposed recipients, Family Promise, and questioned their zoning. Council asked for more information. Likewise, Families in Transition funding was awarded for an existing family but held for a new applicant for the City to explore other funding options, including the McKinney Grant.
Sidewalk Café season is back, and that means Las Palmas on University Place returned. Residents lined up at the podium, supporters and opponents split roughly in half. The result was the same this year as last: Council granted the café’s application and amended the more restrictive hours recommended by SPAARC to the hours approved last year. And a new sidewalk café, Donatella’s Mediterranean Café at 1512 Sherman Ave., was approved easily. Donatella’s is the new location of a beloved Chicago-side of Howard restaurant that closed about a year ago. Finally, a new restaurant, Wings Over Evanston, was approved and will open soon on Emerson.