You know you’re in Evanston ...

…that the City will purchase more than a million dollars’ worth of equipment for upgrades to the 911 center. The City says that since the center was equipped in 1992 and inaugurated the following year, “advancements in modern communications technology have created the need for a more advanced system to access public-safety services that conforms to current standards.” Sounds like a plan. 

… that the City will again award its vending-machine contract to Mark Vend, the greener vendor. Mark Vend also shares 15 percent of its profits with the City.

… that again this year we hope to have enough salt to get us through the winter. We’re contracting to buy 6,000 tons of salt from Morton Salt. The rate is $57.35/T, which, the City says, is “equivalent” to Morton’s bid last year. Gone are the days we could have purchased Geomelt, the beet-juice concoction that also melts ice, but is, these days, too tony for our bank account.

… that the City is going to apply for federal TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) funds to help with the costs of the new streetscape along Church Street. The streetscape (McDaniel to Ashland) and Dodge Avenue (Main to Lyons) is part of the West Evanston Master Plan, which emphasizes reconnecting to the community, fostering new economic development, increasing the walkability of the neighborhoods and maintaining the green character of the community. “This project is intended to transform the entire streetscape of the Dodge Avenue and Church Street corridors, by integrating economic development, affordable housing, greater sustainability and safer transportation access.” Some of these changes will affect to the right-of-way near Evanston Township High School. New bump-out curbs will “allow thousands of students to arrive and leave school with greater safety.” The plan also aims to provide improved bus stops, enhance crosswalks, incorporate rain gardens, use alternative paving options (including recycled pavement), preserve and possibly add more open space, and possibly incorporate bioswale technology to treat and filter storm water before it is released to the storm sewer system. The cost of the project is estimated at $14.6 million, and, if we’re lucky, the TIGER grant will pay the lion’s share ($10.6 million).

… that the City is working to protect Evanston taxicab companies from interloping cabs that come into Evanston soliciting and obtaining fares. The City reports, “Cabs from Lincolnwood, Wilmette and Skokie are regularly positioning themselves within Evanston to exploit the greater demand for taxis here.” So we are strengthening our “prohibition against the solicitation of business by outside cabs.” The City will license and inspect cabs and has now instituted a $750 fine for unauthorized soliciting of taxicab business. Watch this ordinance carefully; it could prohibit residents from calling non-Evanston taxis, as it would make it illegal for non-Evanston-licensed taxis “to … operate as a public passenger vehicle within the City.” Wonder if it means that residents who use other taxis must be dropped off at Howard, Isabella or McCormick, for example, then make their way home otherwise. Of course, a good circulator bus could solve that problem.

… that the Office Depot on Green Bay Road may be getting a facelift. The company would like to demolish that second-floor parking lot, reconfigure the ground-floor lot and “make changes to the façade of the existing building.”

… that there was a bit of discussion at the July 26 City Council meeting regarding the award of a contract to a company from Zion, Arthur Weiler, Inc., to install landscaping around the AT&T eyesores (VRADS). As you doubtless recall, when AT&T received permission from the state legislature to bring those boxes into municipalities – to foster competition in cable service – the deal was that AT&T would pay $1,500 for landscaping around each VRAD. Those affected could either do the landscaping themselves and submit a bill for reimbursement or have it done through the City/AT&T. One alderman thought the award should have gone to a local landscaping company, but she was told that Weiler’s was the most competitive and responsive bid submitted.

… that a lovely great blue heron alighted in the canal near Evanston Hospital last week.

 … that the Democratic Party of Evanston was the target of Rush Limbaugh’s derision a couple of weeks ago for holding a birthday party for President Barack Obama.

From our readers: TG: I respectfully disagree with Tricia Scott’s submission regarding the “overgrown” intersection at Payne and McDaniel on several points:
As a longtime resident, I have watched that corner evolve from a scraggly patch to a series of intricate pathways and terraced planting areas – all of which have been laid, built and planted by the owners. They begin work on the yard in late winter with cleanup, pruning, etc., and they continue through until the snow begins. It is not at all unusual to see them weeding, planting and pruning until dark or even during a heavy rainfall. To say that it is untended is inaccurate. The picture is misleading, because it is not taken at the actual intersection but farther back, which makes it appear as if it is overgrown. In reality, the majority of plantings in that photo are hostas, and this particular variety rarely exceeds 24 inches in height.

This is a nice-sized intersection, with all stops signs placed clearly, albeit a little higher than found normally. If you were to pull up to the actual intersection, each crosswalk in all directions can be seen without obstruction. The owners also have children and are careful to make sure that they, as well as the other neighborhood children, are kept safe.

I am always pleased when I see a homeowner take an active interest in beautifying their tract of parkway. It adds value to their home, as well as the surrounding community. As long as drivers respect the rules of the road and do not exceed the 25 mph speed limit, there isn’t an intersection in this little neighborhood that should pose a problem.

From TG:  TG has gone by this intersection by car and on foot and thinks the plantings are lovely. It is up to public safety officials to make the other decisions.

TG: Have you noticed the aggressive bike riders in general? On a nearly daily basis bike riders are riding double-wide in traffic along Lincoln Street and on Ridge Avenue, I won’t even mention the bike-riding texters. Please send out an APB to all bike riders that they should proceed single file only, as it is hard for motorists to share the road with you when you don’t.

— Thanks, JH

From TG: TG could not agree more. TG has seen a group of bicyclists crowd in front of a car at a stop light, a lone bicyclist riding the white line of Ridge (where bike-riding is prohibited except during Bike the Ridge) and others swooping in front of cars and blowing through stop signs and stoplights. TG loves to ride a bike but thinks that if bicycle riders wish to be respected, they in turn must respect the rules of the road and be courteous to pedestrians and vehicle drivers. We all have to share this planet and conserve fuel, but we don’t have to be jerks in doing it.

The Traffic Guy thinks …

… that some of the left-turn signals here are timed in nano-seconds. Among the shortest left-turn lights are those at Dodge/Dempster (for northbound traffic, anyway) and at McDaniel/Golf. Outside  Evanston, TG votes for those at Skokie and Golf, where construction is making a dusty, congested mess. Any other thoughts?

… that everyone needs to remember that pedestrians in crosswalks – no matter how annoyingly slow or how important the driver’s mission – have the absolute right-of-way. Oh, and be sure to signal before turning, to give others a chance.