This truck is one of many hauling solid waste – 400 to 500 tons per day – into and out of the Veolia transfer station on Church Street. Neighbors and many other Evanston residents wish Veolia to relocate out of Evanston. NU has made a contribution to this effort by asking its solid waste-hauler to use a different transfer station.RoundTable photo

Getting your Evanston news from Facebook? Try the Evanston RoundTable’s free daily and weekend email newsletters – sign up now!

… that someone has put lovely little birds in the trees along the sidewalk by Lee/Greenleaf beach. Though neither partridges nor pear trees, these brighten up the barren walkway.

… that the City is replacing some worn-out (dare TG say “tired” or would it be “detired” rather than “retired”?) vehicles in its fleet. The City will purchase five new vehicles:  four Ford Escapes and a Kubota RTV Sidewalk Tractor with a plow and a spreader.

… that the City is going to renovate the washrooms at the Civic Center. To say that such upgrades to the necessary facilities are necessary would likely seem more than tautological to anyone who has used them lately.

… that chemicals for treating Evanston’s water will come from USALCO in Baltimore, Alexander Chemical Corp. in Downers Grove, Pristine Water Solutions in Waukegan and BASF Corporation in Suffolk, Va. According to the City, five different chemicals are used in the treatment process here: chlorine as a disinfectant, alum and polymers as coagulants, fluoride to help prevent tooth decay and a blended phosphate to coat the interiors of pipes to prevent lead and copper from leaching into the water.

… Speaking of water, the City is going to purchase a brine maker from Cargill so Public Works crews can brew their own de-icing concoctions, reducing by about 25 percent the amount of rock salt tossed onto streets and bridges. According to the City, “Streets and Sanitation staff have been experimenting with various liquid deicing and anti-icing chemicals such as Geomelt, salt brine and Ice Bite. Geomelt is a natural agricultural bi-product (beet juice) that the City has been manually mixing into rock salt to improve its effectiveness at lower temperatures.” For the past few years, the City has used salt brine in limited areas, mostly bridges. The brine was the result of barter with Winnetka’s Public Works Department for a loan of one garbage truck for their bulk pick-ups. If the City were to expand the use of salt brine, keeping up the swap with Winnetka would not be feasible, so the City is going to get its own kettle – the Cargill brine-maker — to “create its own blend of liquid deicers and anti-icers [for about $.75 per gallon] instead of purchasing ready-made products [at $1.95/gallon] from suppliers.” The crews can “tailor” the brew to each storm’s vagaries – using, for example, straight salt brine when the pavement temperature is above freezing and a blend of Geomelt and calcium chloride if it is below freezing. Shakespeare’s Three Witches can’t compete with this crew.

 … that SprintCom Inc. will install additional underground connections to the monopole at Fleetwood-Jourdain Center on Foster Street.  The City says about the cost: “No City of Evanston funding is required for the installation of this equipment.”

… that the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago would like to establish a construction yard for its Large Diameter Sewer Rehabilitation Project. The construction yard will be on property that MWRD already owns and leases to the Skokie Park District, but the sewer project will be for the most part in Evanston, affecting Cleveland and Davis Streets. The Davis Street part is between Benson and Orrington (530 feet of 48-inch-diameter combined sewer) and the Cleveland part will entail 890 feet of 57-inch and 60-inch-diameter combined sewer on Pitner Avenue and Channelside Park.  The construction is slated for next year, and the costs will be paid from the Southwest and Washington National tax-increment financing (TIF) district funds. No fees will be generated by these permits, but since the “critical interceptor sewers” are more than 100 years old, according to the City, it’s probably worth the effort. Wonder what will happen to Pooch Park and the soccer fields there in the interim.

… that the City proposes to amend its ordinance on illegally parked or abandoned automobiles, so scofflaws and the blissfully ignorant should pay heed. If this ordinance is approved, then the City will have the authority to enter private property – shopping areas, for the most part – to enforce prohibitions against parking in fire lanes. The property owner will have to put up signs and notices. Violators who park in fire lanes will have to pay a fine of $55; the late fee is $50.

… that Northwestern University has persuaded its water-hauling contractor not to use the stinking Veolia transfer station on Church Street. Instead the same contractor will haul the University’s solid waste to the transfer station in Northbrook, Al Cubbage, vice-president of University Relations, told a RoundTable reporter, who passed it along here. Mr. Cubbage said the University’s change was not from “pressure” by NU students and the neighborhood group Evanston Neighbors United. “We made the change because of the request by the Brady Scholars group. I wouldn’t use the word pressure – it was really just a matter of listening to and being responsive to that group,” he wrote in an email response to the RT.

 … that the Food 4 Less gas station at Main/McCormick plaza is getting closer to opening. The Food 4 Less folks propose to have a 19-foot-high canopy (14 feet is the typical allowable height), because of the somewhat steep incline in and around the site. There will also be a kiosk where candy and lottery tickets will be sold and that station will have public restrooms accessible from the outside. State approval is needed to allow the Food 4 Less folks to allow customers to purchase gas after-hours (between midnight and 5 a.m.), something they would like to do.

From our readers: TG wants the City “to consider eliminating simultaneous parking on two sides of the street” because many side streets are narrow. Where exactly would those cars go that are now happily parked along the curbs of these streets? Evanston is an older city, pretty much built out by the 1920s, so we have lots of residential areas with houses and apartments that don’t have garages. In addition, where we have small lots close together, homeowners with more
than one car often need that parking in front of their homes. 

Drivers can always seek larger streets to zip along if they’re afraid of taking their big vans and SUVs slowly down narrow side streets. 

I’m for keeping that extra parking. Just think of narrow streets as a way to help slow down neighborhood traffic.

– Janet Messenger

From TG: Thanks for the input, Ms. Messenger. TG agrees somewhat with your proposition, that folks should be able to park near where they live and that everyone should drive slowly along residential streets (potholes help with that, as maybe would uneven bricked streets). Would we both be happy if everyone in Evanston drove a Prius or a Mini and parked on the streets? And could two of them possibly fit into one metered parking space?

The Traffic Guy thinks …

… that even though there is some concern about “strangelets” or mini-black holes escaping from the large Haldron collider in Switzerland, where scientists are trying to isolate the Higgs-Boson or “god” particle, there could be a use for those strangelets on certain people’s desks. Except for unforeseen and possibly cataclysmic cosmic sequels, this could solve a myriad of clutter problems. TG hears from a sci-fi-lit maven about a Bag of Holding, whose inside is greater than its outside – exciting possibilities, both, for the future of backpacks and carry-on luggage.