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City Council approved the replacement of the parking lot at Central Street and Stewart Avenue during its May 13 meeting. The cost, barring any change orders that may arise during the construction process, will be $419,900, or about $7,500 per parking space.
The project will include sidewalk bump-outs designed to improve pedestrian safety and a new, $21,500 covered bike shelter that, Director of Public Works Suzette Robinson said, will serve as a “pilot” system to see if such shelters work. The City awarded the contract to Chicagoland Paving, the low bidder among six contractors who bid on the project.
At the Administration and Public Works meeting earlier in the evening, Aldermen Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, and Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, questioned the cost of the bike shelter, a cost additional to the cost of the bike racks themselves. The bike racks will cost $8,000, making the total cost of the bicycle facility nearly $30,000.
“What is the point of the cover?” asked Ald. Rainey.
“The cover keeps the bikes out of the weather,” said Ms. Robinson.
Ald. Burrus said the City would be better off spending the $21,500 devoted to this single bike shelter on multiple bike racks spread throughout the City. She cited a new bakery on Dempster Street that has specifically requested bike racks near its storefront and been denied.
“Bike racks are must-haves; the shelters are nice-to-haves,” said Ald. Rainey. She voted for the measure, though, “since this is Alderman Grover’s special bike shelter. …”
City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said that Evanston was “a victim of its own success.” Because the City is thought to be bike-friendly, he said, the City gets more and more requests for bike racks and other amenities.
Carl Bova, an engineer and a frequent speaker at public meetings, addressed the City Council meeting and urged Council to remove the $21,500 shelter from the project. He also questioned the cost of the entire project, saying that his company recently completed a 138-space parking lot for about $400,000, using partially recycled paving materials (about $3,000 per parking space). According to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), the average cost for surface grade parking spaces is $4,000.
The measure then passed on the consent agenda without any debate by the entire Council. Residents can look for the new parking lot and its $30,000 bike shelter complete with changeable advertising message signs, this summer.