Amendment to the Green Building Ordinance


I want to thank the City Council and the City Manager for working to maintain a large part of the Green Building Ordinance (GBO) at the Feb. 28 City Council meeting and in the last two weeks.

In the process however, City Council members have requested to create more work for themselves and others through Alderman Don Wilson’s proposed Appendix B of the amendment.  

In recognizing the limitations of the Evanston Sustainable Building Measures for Interior Renovations, Ald. Wilson, as well as Aldermen Judy Fiske and Ann Rainey, suggested that more points be added to this Evanston-specific green standard to better reflect best practices in new construction.  

The wheel has already been invented, but these Council members seek to reinvent it, wasting their own time and ours.

Further, fundamental issues remain in the mindset of many Council members and the City Manager. There was much discussion at the Council meeting about the balance (or imbalance) between economic development and sustainability. This antiquated win-lose approach ignores the last
decade of statistical evidence on the economic benefits of all things sustainable, ranging from green building to wind power to bike lanes.

Even in the recession, the green economy has fiercely outperformed the dirty economy Alds. Rainey and Holmes and City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz attempt to maintain.

Only a strategy that promotes win-win solutions to sustainable economic development will bring Evanston equitable prosperity in the 21st century.

There was also much whining among Aldermen Rainey, Fiske, Holmes and the City Manager that the GBO was too innovative, and that the surrounding communities did not have such an ordinance, leading some businesses to take their 20th-century mindset to Skokie, Niles or Wilmette. This completely misses one of the main points of the GBO, not only to foster a local green economy and ease our upper-middle-class concerns with our carbon footprint. The GBO is also a signal.  

This signal is twofold: to set Evanston apart from the many placeless, boring communities along the North Shore and elsewhere, and to show current and future Evanston residents and businesses that Evanston is a progressive community steeped in history, but built on 21st- century values that connect people, planet and prosperity.

To fully value the GBO, municipal leaders must acknowledge the role it will continue to play in creating local jobs, lowering costs to taxpayers and attracting the next generation of businesses and citizens that will call Evanston home.

–Andrew Irwin

Great Headline


I thought your head, We Have to do More with Less, was the best single headline for the story of the Northwestern professor’s demonstration .

For your log of timeless items:

I called the doctor’s office today at ll:56 am, only to hear a message saying, “the office is closed from 12 till 2.”  So much for private enterprise working harder than do teachers and firemen.

–Dan Feldman

Elementary School Bulge


With the District 65 Board vote approving additions at Dewey, Oakton and Willard Elementary Schools, and with other projects under consideration, an evaluation of the District’s process is timely.

Willard School has the District’s third largest enrollment in the second smallest building, resulting in the highest density or number of children per building area of all fifteen District 65 schools.  Willard currently provides 108 square feet per child, far below the District’s elementary school average of 158. If enrollment remains constant, the addition may provide relief, but Willard will remain the District’s most densely populated school. 

What the District neglected to address, despite the Willard community’s concerns, demographer’s report and their own data, is that Willard’s enrollment will continue to increase.  By the start of school in 2012, Willard will have the largest enrollment of the District’s twelve elementary schools. With this growth, the overcrowding currently experienced at Willard, will return one year after millions are spent on additional space. 

Stating cost concerns, Willard’s addition was deliberately limited.  The resulting construction savings at all three schools is attributable solely to restricting the needed expansion at one school, Willard.  With the Oakton addition cost equating to over $1,000 per square foot, the combined Oakton and Dewey total was over budget.  This didn’t concern the Board.  One Board member’s statement that bids represent an “excellent buy for the District” requires serious reflection; as does freely allocating resources at some schools while restricting others.

The growth stressing elementary schools will strain the middle schools in a few years. District 65 must do better on future projects. A process equitably determining need, with thoughtful programming and competent budgeting that engages the school community must be implemented.  As it is evident that the District is deficient in these capacities, a team of professionals including qualified Project Management and Cost Estimator must be retained to ensure vision is realized and value maximized.

–Chris Oakley, AIA Evanston

The Twig Has Leafed Out


Many, many thanks to the amazing Evanston community and its support  
for the Mighty Twig, Books, Internet, Story Time and Friends. Smaller than a branch, the Mighty Twig is a new community space provided to help fill the gap left by the closing of the South Branch Library.

Thanks to our many volunteers and donations, the Mighty Twig will open  
its doors (at 900 Chicago Ave) to the public on Mar. 26, at 10AM, with a kids’ event from 1-3PM. While we can’t begin to offer  
the full scope of services a full service library can provide, the space is designed to be an outpost for delivery of neighborhood  
services.  We are grateful to national library visionaries, Nate Hill, and the team at Boston Street Lab for their time, energy and brainpower in helping us model this experimental space in a way that we hope will potentially work for other parts of Evanston as well.

We are extremely grateful to the community of Evanston for their generous financial support, as well as their volunteer spirit, elbow grease and positive spirit in helping us move this idea forward while  
the Library Board completes its Visioning process.

We hope that all of Evanston will recognize The Mighty Twig for the wonderful opportunity that it can be, to realize a new way of thinking in writing the next chapter for the libraries of Evanston.  The Mighty  
Twig is provided by the Evanston Public Library Friends, a registered 501(C)3.

–Lori Keenan, EPLF Board Member

Thank You, Ms. Colleton


I was delighted by your recent coverage of the African American Youth Achievement Awards. My daughter Lauren Gilbert, a Junior at Evanston Township High School, was among the many students from District 65 and 202 honored for their impressive accomplishments and the awards ceremony was truly inspiring.

My son Daniel Gilbert, currently in Graduate School at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, received a full scholarship with a stipend of 20,000.00, to play viola in the School of Music. He was inspired by Mrs… Jane Colleton to achieve academic excellence.  He received the academic scholarship from the Horace and Dorothy Johnson Memorial Scholarship when he graduated from Evanston Township in 2005.  Mrs. Colleton aided in the scholarship awardees, and did so the year of Daniel’s award.  She inspired Daniel when she encouraged him and informed him that she herself played the violin.  I have also worked with Mrs… Colleton on the Evanston Township School Improvement Team in past years, and found her contributions invaluable.

I was very disappointed that your story neglected to mention  Jane Colleton, who received this year’s Trailblazer Award. This honor celebrates an adult who exemplifies everything we celebrate in our youth: leadership, community service and educational and personal achievement. Jane’s contribution to our community, from 20 years on District 202’s School Board, to her many other leadership roles, should not go unrecognized. In highlighting the achievements of such an adult, we show our children what they can aspire to.  My daughter was also disappointed and felt that the omission was hurtful and selfish.  I would very much appreciate an apology to Mrs… Jane Colleton.  She has been an inspiration to our family.  She received a standing ovation when she received the Trailblazer Award, and I feel that others in the community should be reminded of her contributions and community service.  Without individuals like her, it is difficult for African American Youth to have dreams to aspire for.  I feel that it is a crime not to acknowledge her, and I am quite frankly upset that she was not recognized for the true leader that she is.  I trust that you will acknowledge her in the next Evanston Round Table issue.  If you have any questions or concerns please contact me.

–Linda Gilbert