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The National League of Cities meeting on March 12 took more than half of City Council to Washington, D.C., on March 12. The result was two meetings within an eight-day stretch, March 19 and March 26. Both were busy.

March 19

City Manager Wally Bobkeiwicz said that poor road conditions led him to propose spending $1 million on repaving projects above and beyond the City’s planned projects. He and Public Works Director Suzette Robinson asked City staff to determine the stretches in most need of repair, with an eye toward making the money stretch as far as possible. Ten roads were identified, “purely on pavement condition,” said Mr. Bobkewicz.

Alderman Coleen Burrs, 9th Ward, asked why Oakton was not included on the list. Ms. Robinson identified two reasons: It would be too expensive, eating all or nearly all of the $1 million budget, and it was not in as bad a condition as the other roads identified. Mr. Bobkiewicz reiterated that the goal was to accomplish as much as possible with $1 million. The measure passed, though Ald. Burrus continues to call for Oakton resurfacing.

The City is expanding the liquor license of the Central Street Café to allow for liquor tasting as well as wine tasting.

A “bar” or “tavern” liquor license may be coming to the City of Evanston after the Administration and Public Works committee determined that it simply could not award a restaurant liquor license to the proposed World of Beer. The plans called for a “restaurant” that did not even have a kitchen. Last moment alteration to the plan, which proposed a Lulu’s cart or similar vehicle selling food in the bar did not change Council’s mind. “This is not a hotel or restaurant,” said Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward. Take-out menus or a food cart within a bar “has never been the intent of the ordinance,” she added.

Questions about health department inspections of food that would be brought into the World of Beer further derailed the concept. The committee referred the matter back to the liquor commission for the creation of a bar or tavern license. At the Council meeting, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, also the City’s liquor commissioner, said, “Excuse me, that will be a straight bar license,” then she hesitated, surprised, and added, “All right. …”

A contract for auto parts with Carquest created some controversy in that Ald. Rainey argued that North Suburban Auto Supply had not been given a chance to bid on the contract. Mr. Bobkeiwicz said that the contract was part of a consortium of municipalities bidding together for increased buying power on a national level with a central bidding center in Charlotte, North Carolina. “They [North Suburban] were not given a chance,” said Ald. Rainey. The measure passed Council 8-1 over Ald. Rainey’s “no” vote. She asked the MWEBE Committee to consider greater flexibility in approaching local businesses for smaller contracts, such as the $76,000 auto parts contract.

March 26

On a pilot-project basis, patrons may now carry alcoholic drinks into all theaters at the Evanston movie theater. Previously, drinks were allowed in the Cine Arts side only. Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, joined by Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, objected.

Payday loan stores may not be located within 1,000 feet of each other, according to a new ordinance passed on March 26. First, the City code now defines payday lenders in order to distinguish “payday loans and consumer loan establishments” from other financial institutions. Second, the ordinance now limits such businesses to C-2 zoning districts and establishes the 1,000 foot buffer. Council suspended its rules to allow both introduction and passage of the new restrictions.