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A decided sadness hung over the Sept. 24 City Council meeting, in the wake of the death of 14-year-old Dajae Coleman over the weekend. There was business to complete, however, with a full agenda and a chamber filled with residents ready to address their particular issues.
The Administration and Public Works Committee approved water plant settling basin inspection (not to exceed $89,000) and engineering of the master flow meter and chemical feed improvements (not to exceed $95,500). The matters were not discussed.
The Top of the Tracks coffee shop at the Central Street Metra station is changing hands. Mary Lou Smith is retiring after 27 years running the shop. Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, congratulated Ms. Smith as the Committee approved a sublease from Ms. Smith to the shop’s new owner, SEG Café, LLC. “SEG” stands for Shelley Patterson, Elizabeth Hubbard and Gail Doeff, who will take over Top of the Tracks. The City receives monthly rent from the shop.
The Committee kicked back to staff a proposal that would allow the 7-Eleven on Emerson to sell liquor and beer. A new class of liquor license would be required, “Class O-1,” raising the number of City of Evanston liquor license classifications to at least 32. Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said the creation of a new classification should be separated from the issuance of the license to 7-Eleven.
Ald. Rainey addressed possible ramifications of a convenience store liquor license. “We are really treading into very scary territory with this one,” she said, citing the gas station convenience stores on Howard. A City-wide public discussion, complete with public notice “that we’re doing this” should precede any vote, she said. The matter is to be held until Oct. 27, when it will come back as two separate ordinances – one created as the 32nd classification and the other granting the new license.
One of the 31 classifications, Class T, currently has no issued permits. That is about to change as Council introduced an ordinance that will issue such a license to the new brewpub, Smylie Bros. Restaurant and Brewery, at 1615 Oak Street across from the Post Office. The Class T license was established in 2000 in hopes of encouraging a brewpub. “Our hopes and dreams have been realized,” said Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward.
The Administration and Public Works Committee considered a new ordinance that would prohibit sump pumps from tying into the City’s sewer system and instead require that they discharge water onto the lawns of the homes they serve. Dave Stonebeck, the City’s Director of Utilities, said that while sump pumps were not currently a problem they could become a problem if too many discharged into the sewers at once. Many of the City’s sewer pipes are 12 inches or less in diameter (about 63%), capable of handling about 744 gallons per minute. A typical sump pump discharges about 40 gpm, he said. Just 18 sump pumps kicking in at once could overwhelm the system and lead to sewer backups in the basements of residents.
The item appeared for discussion only, but will no doubt show up on a future agenda very soon. It was pulled from the agenda just two weeks ago to allow for Mr. Stonebeck’s presentation.
Because of the vacation rental and rental-unit licensing matters at Planning and Development, the full City Council meeting started late. At the request of City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz, three Special Orders of Business were postponed to a later meeting.
Two proposals for the replacement of Robert Crown Center await discussion. A proposal that would have authorized Mr. Bobkiewicz to enter negotiations with two developers was on the agenda but was postponed. The proposals are vast in scope, cost between $20 and $50 million, and would completely rebuild the facility. Perhaps it is just as well that Council and the community have more time to digest the sheer scope of the project. A link to the proposals is below (the Harbour proposal has been deemed non-responsive): http://www.cityofevanston.org/parks-recreation/robert-crown-center/crown-park-responses-to-rfp/index.php.
A pedestrian-safety update and a sidewalk-maintenance presentation were also postponed to a later meeting.