A reader is curious about why there are so many unused garbage carts piled up at the former recycling center.RoundTable photo

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… that City crews have done a great job keeping ahead of the snow and ice so far this winter. Kudos to all those hard workers and also to James Maiworm of Streets and Sanitation, who keeps everyone informed of what’s being done and what’s to come.

… that the Chicago Tribune recently reported that a hedge fund, Jana Partners, bought more than $300 million in Safeway stock, and demanded that Safeway exit “subscale and lower margin geographies.” Jana reported that it owned 6.2 percent of Safeway’s stock in a Sept. 17, 2013 SEC filing. As many of TG’s readers know, Safeway is the owner of Dominick’s stores in the Chicago area, including two in Evanston – which have just closed. Whether Safeway had planned to close the Dominick’s stores before Java’s demand and whether it would have closed them without encouragement from Jana is not known. In TG’s view, though, buying stock in a company and then seeking to profit by demanding that the company close grocery stores in “subscale and lower margin geographies” is going too far.

… that City engineer Sat Nagar has culled information about street resurfacing, bike paths, street lights and crosswalks for 2014. Proposed street resurfacing will take place at Davis, Florence to Wesley; Washington, Dodge to Dewey; Clark, Ridge to Oak; Oak, Church to Clark; Fowler, Greenleaf to Dempster; Grey, Cleveland to Washington; and Hartrey, Dempster to Lake. New street lights are being installed along Church at Pitner, Hartrey and Darrow. Energy-efficient bulbs will be installed along Greenwood from Dodge to Pitner, along Hartrey from Greenwood to Greenleaf and along Dempster from McDaniel to Dodge. And the last thing is a new pedestrian crossing coming to Main and McDaniel.

… that there was a supermoon last night, the first of five expected this year, according to timeanddate.com. The next one is expected on Jan. 30, according to earthsky.org. A supermoon – the term was coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979 – occurs when the moon is at perigee of its orbit, that is, closest to the earth. A supermoon can seem about 14 percent larger (diameter) and 30 percent brighter than the average moon. A Micromoon or mini-moon is the moon seen at its apogee, farthest from the earth. Please note, these websites say, that a moon need not be full to be a supermoon.  Timeanddate.com also notes, “When the moon is closer to the Earth or at its Perigee, it exerts high gravitational pulls, leading to high tides and a larger variation between high and low tides. On the other hand, when the Moon is at its Apogee, it exerts its lowest gravitational pull, leading to low tides and a smaller variation between high and low tides. … Old wives tales and folklore accounts suggest that full moons and micro moons affect human mental health and bring on natural disasters. Scientists have not found any evidence for any such correlation.”

From our readers: TG: I took these photos outside D&D Finer Foods on Noyes. The first is Frosty the Snowman, deflated, and having partied too hard, and the second is Frosty feeling all better. Merry Christmas.

– Bernadette (Bunny) Velasco

From TG: Thanks for the cute photos. Guess that’s what’s meant by “bouncing back.”
From observation, readers’ comments, phone calls and emails, TG submits to the City and the community some new year’s resolutions:

1. Dump the unused garbage carts. The former recycling center is teeming with them, and they have been exposed to the weather for more than a couple of years. The City should find a use for them: place them in parks or sell them or give them to a group, sister city or the like that will come pick them up. Better yet, punch holes in the bottom and use them as planters along Dodge Avenue – maybe in the middle, to calm traffic in either direction.

While we’re at it, City folks, find a use for the recycling center itself. TG suggests trying to woo back that wonderful sports group that was willing to fill the space
year round, which would have brought a boost to the businesses in the area there – Steak & Shake, Home Depot, Pet Smart, Aldi, Gordon Food Services and the Shell station.

2.  Ban bollards. Those nuisances along the sidewalks in downtown Evanston are neither pretty nor functional. Bicyclists use them as hitching posts and, as one reader/pedestrian put it, they barely light up a toe. More are said to be in store for Davis Street, but City Council should pass an ordinance banning bollards, without grandfathering even a single one.

3.  Pay closer attention to bids for capital projects. Extenuating circumstances and change orders are now the norm in contracts, but there should be some closer scrutiny of promises and deadlines. The community is left with half a lane on Bridge Street for the winter. Here is what the City posted on Aug. 23: “Work on the Bridge St. bridge reconstruction project set to begin September 3 and is expected to be completed in late November, 2013.”  An update and a reason would be helpful and appreciated.

4. Stop towing cars for street cleaning and follow the suggestion of Michael Peshkin, printed in the Dec. 5 column: In less than the time it takes for a tow truck driver to tow a car and return, a City employee or a contractor with a leaf blower could move the leaves and litter from under the car, and blow them a distance down the street for pickup. This would save time and money and aggravation and reduce trucks on the street, and fuel usage. The cost of the leaf blowing could be added to the City fine. That fine would still make an impression, even without the tow charge. Isn’t it more sensible to move pounds of leaves rather than tons of car?”

5.  Can City Council use its home-rule powers to get rid of those unsightly and dangerous middle-of-the-street Stop for Pedestrians in Crosswalk signs?  They seem to create a false sense of security for pedestrians. Many cars fly through them without stopping making the sign itself an accident waiting to happen.

6. Speaking of legislation, can City Council get its act together and stop
putting residents and police in a bind by passing ordinances they do not intend to have enforced? While School District 65 has done pretty well with its school buses, one can hardly say the same for Northwestern University, where athletic buses from visiting schools sit idling and roaring their engines for hours, waiting for the
teams to return (defeated for the most part, TG trusts). And the noise ordinance. Residents and aldermen have complained about radios with bass turned up so loud the cars, other drivers and even the streets seem to shake.

… speaking of streets – and TG realizes this is far off in the future: Maybe the solution to the bike lanes – that so many people say they dislike – is to build the bike lanes over the streets. Imagine a few long suspension bridges crisscrossing Evanston – a whole second story of bike travel, coffee and water kiosks, bagel and muffin stops breezing above the congestion below.