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A full agenda littered with controversial items littered the City Council agenda on Sept. 12, keeping the meeting going well past 11 p.m. Tucked in between the higher- profile matters were a few nuggets worth mention.
Interim Library Director Approved. Council finalized the contract of interim Library Director Donna Dziedzic (pronounced “Jezick”) to take over for departed director Mary Johns. Ms Dziedzic comes to Evanston after directing the Naperville Library and will serve as interim director for at least six months with an option for three more. Sporting her signature black Chuck Taylor sneakers, Ms. Dziedzic said she appreciates the honor and looks forward to working with the City.
Two New TIFs Likely. New TIF districts may be on the way, since Council approved a consulting contract for TIF specialists Kane McKenna, a firm that has served as consultants on the City’s TIF projects for more than 10 years. Two areas targeted will be Chicago/Main and the shopping plaza at Dempster/Dodge. Council approved the contract unanimously. The consultant will report back as to the feasibility of possible TIF districts, boundaries, current TIF district performance and other technical matters.
Sienna Rising. Council approved with little discussion a new 175-unit apartment building at Ridge Avenue and Clark Street to complete the long-stalled Sienna development. David Reifman of DLA Piper, representing the developer Focus Development, said the initial plan called for 256 units in four phases and four separate buildings. The first two were completed and phase three and four started, but the latter halted when the economy soured. The property, now a hole in the ground, is owned by Inland Bank. The bank will provide construction financing, making the project almost certain to go forward, he said.
ECMC on the Move. The Evanston Community Media Center may be moving to the Civic Center as early as Oct. 1. Facing funding cuts and without outside income sufficient to sustain its current lease, ECMC is negotiating with its current landlord to cancel its remaining lease, which runs through November 2012, in order to move. Council voted to authorize the City Manager to lease ECMC space pending the outcome of negotiations regarding its current lease.
Fast Food and Doggy Daycare. A new Pret-a-Manger restaurant will be coming to town at 1701 Sherman Ave. Barring a groundswell of opposition over the next couple of weeks the restaurant will be approved at the next Council meeting. “Doggy daycare” is now a special use within certain business, commercial, industrial and mixed-use zoning districts. Kennels had previously fit within a broader “retail” definition, said Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward.
RX Cards. Council approved Township Supervisor Pat Vance’s request that the Township distribute Coast2Coast RX cards. Ms. Vance, speaking at Rules Committee on Sept. 7, said the card offered residents discounts of up to 40 percednt and is available to all Evanstonians, though it is specifically designed for the uninsured. Details from the Township will follow.
Ward Money. Finally, Council voted to pay Ward Manufacturing the full $700,000 in economic development funds it had allocated to the business several months ago. Changes in the business’s plans, from creating at least six warehouse jobs to creating three manufacturing jobs, caused City staff to propose breaking the gift into two payments. Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said that the work had been done and Ward should be given the full allocation immediately. Tom Ward of Ward Manufacturing said the goal was never to build warehouse space right away but to focus on manufacturing. He said the new equipment and loading areas had already created a need for three to six new jobs, with possibly more on the way.
City Council was sold. They voted unanimously, as Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said, “to pay Ward Manufacturing now.