The new bearded dragon at the Ecology Center needs a name. TG suggests “Puff”; another RT writer suggested “Fluff.”          Submitted photo

… that 321 runners from Evanston participated in the Oct. 13 Chicago Marathon.

… that about 25 folks from Evanston walked in the annual National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) walk in Glenview on Oct. 5.

… that the City will purchase 147 induction lighting units for about $58,000 from Elcast Lighting of Addison. These will almost double the wattage in some Tallmadge street lights – from 85 watts to 165 watts. These brighter street lights will be installed in several blocks in two neighborhoods as part of the Safer Neighborhood Area Program (SNAP). These areas, called Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Areas, were selected based on recommendations from the police department.

This is the third increased-lighting program in three years. Readers may remember that the first full SNAP program here – involving neighbors, police, landlords, etc. – resulted in a 95 percent reduction in calls for City services, mostly police.

… that again this year, the City will offer free “after-hours” and weekend parking in four parking areas to lure holiday shoppers to Evanston. The parking spree, in the three downtown garages (Sherman Avenue, Maple Avenue and Church Street)  and the one at 1234 Chicago Ave., will be between 5 p.m. and midnight weekdays and all day Saturday (Sunday is always free) from Nov. 28 through Jan. 4 of next year. The City projects its losses at $44,000 in the downtown garages and $1,200 in the Chicago Avenue lot. Holiday shoppers and diners, here is your challenge to make up that amount, and more, with tax revenues generated by your purchases.

… that the City may relax its regulations about the placement of private commercial signs on public sidewalks. Under the current regulations, if the business owner cannot find a location acceptable to the City, then the City may revoke the sign permit. The proposed amendment allows some leeway, if the business owner demonstrates hardship, in placing the sidewalk sign nearby. This would be done in cooperation with the City and the affected property owners and with “safety and convenience” of “paramount” importance, according to the City. 

… that, as promised, the fines for “snow relocations”  of autos will increase. A “relocation” occurs when the City or one of its agents tows a car off a street to allow the street to be plowed and salted, and then replaces the car – at the owner’s expense. Relocations are more convenient than having to get to the car pound to retrieve the vehicle, but not as cost-effective for the owner as heeding the “snow emergency” signs.

The City says the “fines for snow-emergency parking violations will increase from $40 to $55 to match those of a snow-route parking ban [violation] and the snow relocation fine will increase from $105 to $150.” If Council approves, the new fines will be effective on Dec. 1.

Speaking of wintry weather, the City has amended the City Code as it relates to clearing public sidewalks of ice and snow, “to make it both more reader friendly and easier to enforce.” The ordinance basically states that the City has so many sidewalks (274 miles) and alleys (41.5 miles of paved alleys and 28.25 miles of unpaved alleys) that it is unreasonable and unfeasible for the City to keep them clear of ice and snow, so residents and property owners must clear the sidewalks in front of and adjacent to their residences and businesses. To wit, “… the Illinois Supreme Court established long ago that it is unreasonable to expect a city to expend the resources and labor necessary to keep streets and other public ways continuously safe from ice and snow during the winter. …” and “it is impracticable for the City to shovel, clear, salt and clear natural accumulations of snow and ice on all sidewalks.”

 So it is up to residents and property owners to keep the sidewalks clear. If there is a snowfall of 4 inches or more during a 24-hour period, the property owner must clear a 36-inch path on all the adjacent sidewalks. If the snow is packed down with ice and very difficult to remove, then sand or salt, as deicers, can be used. Landlords must “clear snow and ice from private sidewalks, walkways, stairs, driveways, parking spaces, parking lots and similar areas on private property to permit access for tenants and invitees to such private property.” Also, according to the City, “any person who removes snow or ice from the public sidewalk or street shall not, as a result of his/her acts or omissions in such removal, be liable for civil damages” except for “acts or omissions amounting to willful or wanton misconduct in such snow or ice removal.”

… that, at the request of St. Francis Hospital, the City will prohibit parking on the south side of Austin from Elmwood to Sherman. In that short street segment, there are two designated pedestrian crossing locations and the hospital has two driveways. Prohibiting parking there will improve pedestrian safety by making them more visible and by clearing the line of sight for cars, according to the City.

… that the Montessori high school, called Beacon Academy, plans to  move into 622 Davis St. Seems the City zoning will allow a private school as a special use in the downtown commercial district but not at all in the industrial area. And of course, never mind that there is already a pretty cool high school in the area. What is the City thinking?

… that the Parks and Recreation Board has come up with a plan for special events at lakefront parks. The Board recommends “that the ‘time frame’ of the event should be considered in the permit process and the department should consider charging an additional fee for lakefront park permits. Preference should be given to residents over non-residents; not for profit over for profit organizations; and returning events with longevity.” Here are their suggestions: in the summer months, the City should allow six high-impact events and 10 low impact events (but not more than two high impact events in any one month).” There is also a recommendation to increase the special event permit application fee from $100 to $150; some events will require a second permit and fee.  The committee recommends encouraging use of other lakefront parks such as Burnham Shores or Elliot Park to minimize use of Dawes and Centennial Park.

… that the City is working on an update to its bicycle plan and has scheduled events for the heart of the day on Oct. 25: a presentation from 9 to 11 a.m. at Evanston Township High School, 1600 Dodge Ave., and then a ride-around from noon to 3 p.m. Riders-around must bring their own bikes and helmets, and everyone attending must register with the City. (N.B., TG twice tried to register with the click-through on the email notice sent to the RT, but was unsuccessful each time.) The City invites residents to provide ideas and input on the plan by taking the Bike Survey on the website (cityofevanston.org) or calling 311 with ideas.

… that the Ecology Center folks are inviting residents to stop in and suggest names for their new bearded dragon. These critters get their name because of their ability to flare out the skin under their chin if they feel threatened or territorial, making them look like they have a beard. Bearded dragons are typically docile and social, and they dine on crickets and leafy greens.

… that a tidbit traveling the Information Highway these days says, “Every American spends about two weeks of his life stopped at red lights.”

… that last Saturday’s NU game against Minnesota was a Peanut-Free Day. Before the game, the stadium was thoroughly cleaned and nary a peanut was sold or even permitted at the game. NU said it believes that this was the first time a college football venue has gone completely peanut free for a game. The ban was meant to draw attention to the many food allergies, particularly in children. According to the CDC, nut allergies account for 90 percent of all food-allergy reactions.

… that the RT proofreading team is celebrating National Punctuation Day (Sept. 24) a month late. It’s not too late to turn in an essay for this 10th annual celebration. NPD says, “… [w]e ask you this: What have you learned? Has National Punctuation Day made a difference?” Those affected by punctuation, or by NPD, still have time to submit an essay of 250 words or fewer to “explain how National Punctuation Day has affected the way you think about punctuation (or not), and how the holiday has affected your writing (or not).” Essays, properly punctuated, can be sent to jeff@nationalpunctuationday.com. TG would have entered but for the following caveat: “Contest winners will be announced in December. There will be prizes for the best essays. They will not be chocolate.” TG believes that advisory deserves not only punctuation – ! – but also an emoticon:

The Traffic Guy thinks …

… that setting clocks back one hour in the fall is an enigmatic tradition. This year’s “fall back” date is Nov. 3.

… that these turf and word wars between bicyclists and drivers are probably healthy signs that people know they have to share the road. That solved, the problem remains: How?