A surprise twist in the project to rehab Lincoln Elementary School, which has generally had rave reviews, is that the City of Evanston required School District 65 to turn a field on the school’s property into a storm water retention area.

At a Finance Committee meeting on Oct. 15, Board member Tracy Quattrocki said the community is “very distressed” that the field was turned into a retention area.   
“We all agree,” said John Castellana, chairman of TMP Architecture, Inc., the District’s architects.

Andy Pigozzi, a School Board member and chair of the Finance Committee, said the City’s jurisdiction over school projects is limited, but extends to work outside the property line, such as bringing in a water line. “Because we had to bring in a new water service to sprinkle the building,” he said, “the City leveraged that and made District 65 comply with their ordinance – which is very excessive. They treated us like a shopping-mall developer. We had no way of knowing the scope and the conditions that they were going to put on that project until we were well underway in trying to get the new water service.”

Dr. Brown said the District had initial meetings with the City in which the District asked what would be required and the District obtained initial guidelines that were included in the bid as a contingency. After the bids were approved, the City kept adding on new requirements, she said.  

“As of May, there were drastic changes,” said Nick Papanicholas, Jr., “like all the of the existing storm structure.”

Superintendent Hardy Murphy said, “We tried to get concessions. We were as disappointed as you.”

“From the City’s standpoint,” Dr. Murphy added, “I think it’s about what the impact is on the broader neighborhood. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be able to work it out.”

Larry Gavin

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...