The art on this Chicago tree, by Evanston artists Karl and Indira Johnson, consists of (in Ms. Johnson’s words) “alternating bands of Morse code and overlapping hands layered like sediment around the tree. Carved into the trunk, the continuous sequence of three dots, three dashes and three dots broadcasts an SOS, signaling both distress and a need for a deeper investigation of how to achieve a balance in our ever-changing world.Submitted photo

… that Indira Freitas Johnson is again trying to reorient our skewed societal
values toward nature. She and her husband, Karl, are participating in the Chicago Tree Project, turning trees killed by the emerald ash borer into living public art. Their tree, “SOS: Questions Not Answered,” is in Olympia Park, at Avondale and Devon in Chicago.
Readers will remember that Evanston had a similar idea more than a year ago, painting the dead ash trees bright blue by Calvary Cemetery to call attention to their plight. … that the City will continue to share expenses for maintenance of Sherman Plaza with the retail owner of the plaza and the condominium association. The City owns and operates the parking structure, MB Evanston Sherman LLC owns the shopping plaza, and the Residences of Sherman Plaza Condominium Association is, of course, the condo association. The agreement will cover from Aug. 23 of this year till Aug. 22 of next year. Currently, the City is paying about $84,000 per year, and the cost for the upcoming contract is projected at $115,000.

… that L. Marshall Inc. of Glenview will replace the boiler building roof at the Civic Center for about $37,000. According to the City, the first floor contains boilers that supply steam heat for the Civic Center, and there is a tenant on the second floor. “The existing roofing membrane of building has deteriorated and is in need of replacement. Granules from the roofing material’s top membrane have worn away over time, exposing the base membrane and compromising the integrity of the roofing system,” according to the City. Time, indeed, to fix that roof.

… the City will spend $578,875 for the Sherman Avenue streetscape. The brick pavers along Sherman from Lake to Grove, according to the City, “have heaved, sunk and cracked during the extreme weather conditions. The City has been replacing defective brick sidewalk with concrete at various locations downtown. This has been well-received by the public.” Well, not quite. TG thinks the concrete replacements are ugly.  Parking meters will be replaced, and the street will be resurfaced: curbs and gutters replaced, road base repaired, asphalt surface ground and a new surface laid down.  

 … that, speaking of streetscapes, the folks at Montoya Fiber Studio, 2566 Prairie Ave., have brightened a block of the Central Street shopping area with yarn bombing.

… that the City will purchase an ambulance power-load system for $36,500 from Stryker Corp. of Portage, Mich. Once this has been purchased, the Evanston Foreign Fire Tax Board (EFFTB) will purchase a second lift system. The Power-LOAD cot system is “designed to lift a patient on a stretcher into the ambulance for transport to the hospital. …[It] accomplishes the loading and unloading without lifting assistance from the firefighter/paramedics” and has a lifting capacity of 870 lbs. The EFFTB purchase will afford Fire the opportunity to have a power-load system in each of the two primary ambulances.

… that the City will replace nine old, worn-out vehicles with new ones, at a total cost of $534,046.30 as follows: recycling vehicle from R.N.O.W. Incorporated of West Allis, Wis., Ford vehicles Currie Motors of Frankfort, Ill., and a Nissan  Rogue from Autobarn Nissan right here in Evanston. The vehicles to be replaced include some SUVs, a crane carrier and a van.
The crane carrier, a large recycling packer vehicle, will have some extras, such as roof-tube protectors, a PTO (power take-off) kill switch double and a power-release hook.
The Ford vehicles (two Explorers and a van) will be equipped with vehicle- emission technology and will be fueled with 87 octane gasoline, so they should be using less fuel and thus reduce emissions. The Explorers, both 6-cylinder vehicles, will replace two 8-cylinder vehicles. The 4-cylinder Ford Escape, replacing an 8-cylinder truck, will also use 87 octane gas. The four trucks are all equipped with selective catalytic reduction emission systems, the City says, which “reduce emissions to carbon dioxide and water vapor with minimal particulate matter and no carbon monoxide. A further reduction in emissions will be achieved by these units being operated by B-20 bio-diesel fuel.” The green fleet rolls on.

… that the City hopes to increase its fines for using a cell phone while driving and for riding a bicycle on a sidewalk in the certain business districts. The cell-phone fine will be increased by 50% – from $50 to $75. The bike-riding-on-sidewalk fine will increase by about 67% – from $15 to $25.

… that, nearby, Rocky Miller Park, NU’s baseball facility may get new turf. Other improvements, dependent on funding (never a problem for NU, it seems) will be new home and visitor locker rooms and training facilities, a new press box and scoreboard, better seating, and possibly lights to enable television coverage, are intended to bring the facility up to the standards of a Big Ten baseball program.”

… that, speaking of NU and dollars (incoming), the U.S. Department of Energy will give NU about $25 million over the next few years for energy research.  Two Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) at Northwestern University will continue to receive multimillion-dollar funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for projects designed to accelerate the scientific breakthroughs needed to build a new 21st-century energy economy. NU’s Center for Bio-Inspired Energy Science (CBES) Center will receive $12 million over four years, and the Argonne-Northwestern Solar
Energy Research (ANSER) Center will receive $15.2 million over four years. NU said in its press release, “The goal of the centers is to help lay the scientific ground-work for fundamental advances in solar energy, electrical energy storage, carbon capture and sequestration, mater-ials and chemistry by design, biosciences, and extreme environments, according to the DOE.”

From our readers:
TG: Thank you for the support you gave us in your June 5 column by agreeing that Evanston needs a Lakefront Protection Ordinance. I recently paddled my kayak on the Lake – and the view of the two behemoths, the sailing bunker and the bare concrete walls behind is an eye sore to say the least.
The Evanston Lakefront and Parks Alliance, the successor organization to is asking for your support again to protect our Lakefront and Open Park Spaces. Over 2,000 Evanstonians signed the petition to prevent the Harley Clarke mansion from being turned into a privately owned hotel. Even though the City’s RFP for Harley Clark stated that the area is zoned Open Space, the RFP in section III-B also reads that “The City plans to rezone the parcel to be compatible with a future use. RFP on the City’s website, In other words, the City already had determined that it would remove the open space zoning for this parcel without input from our community. Which open-zoned space may be next for rezoning without resident input?
Please support our efforts to establish a strong Lakefront and Parks Protection Ordinance by joining us and signing our petition at  – Sigrid Pilgrim

From TG: Thank you in return.

The Traffic Guy thinks …

… that the police will be out in full force over the holiday weekend, so drivers should stay sober and everyone should wear a seat belt. This is part of the statewide Independence Day Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over and Click It or Ticket effort.  Folks who plan to drink should get a designated driver and hand over the keys. Those who have been, as they say, overserved, should call a friend, family member or taxi.

… Hope everyone enjoyed the Custer Street Fair and the Fountain Square Art Festival.
Now let’s get ready for the 4th.