Roof with a view.Photo by Ellen Galland

… that the top of the new Northwestern Visitor Center/parking garage offers a great view of the lake, Chicago and all around. Since NU took residents’ eye-level view of the lake, they ought to allow Evanstonians up there at any time – not
to party, but just to look.

… that the Evanston Police Department has already begun its part in the statewide Labor Day “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” impaired driving crackdown. According to data from the Illinois Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the midnight-to-3 a.m. time frame is the deadliest time on Illinois roads. The data also shows this time of day has the highest percentage of alcohol involvement and the lowest occupant restraint use. To avoid being pulled over, the EPD suggests that people who drive and plan to consume alcohol get a designated driver or call a taxi or a friend for transportation home. Everyone is asked to remember to wear a seatbelt and to report impaired drivers.

… that there were three water-main breaks in one night last week. On Aug. 19, there was a break in a main in the 1700 block of South Boulevard just before 8 p.m. As the water crew person was heading there, he learned of a break at Mulford and Dodge. That one, according to the City, was  “a bad break with a lot of water coming up.” Then a third break was reported at 337 Dodge, this one at about 3:30 a.m., so crews were working through most of the night.

… that there are already signs of the changing of the season: less sunlight, dried leaves, fading summer blooms and – yep – rock salt supplies. The City will purchase up to 7,500 tons of rock salt from Morton Salt at a cost of $84.58 per ton, for a winter season total of $634,350. Morton requested the price increase of almost $24/ton higher than last year. According to data from the City, though, this is still a pretty good deal: “Several adjoining communities have received salt bids ranging from $110 to $130 per ton. Numerous Chicago area communities are not receiving bids or quotes for rock salt due to the shortage of the material. The quotes that are being received from communities across the area are generally $25 to $45 per ton higher than the prices from last year.” So the City has locked in not only the price but some leeway: It must purchase 80% of the order and can buy up to 120% – 9,000 tons. And there is a small stash of 550 tons left over from last year.

… that folks will soon be asked to pay their wheel tax, the thing that used to be shown by the purchase of a vehicle sticker. The forms will be printed by Third Millennium Associates of Warrenville for about $18,000.

… that the City will pay Midwest Fence Corporation of Chicago about $73,000 for a boat rack extension at Dempster Street beach. Here’s what the City will get: more sailboat racks, more kayak trees, new sailboard racks and repairs to the chain-link fence and gates.  In addition, Baltic Marine Services of Chicago will have a $35,000 contract to maintain and repair City watercraft.

… that the City will soon auction off several of its heavily used vehicles that are in poor or worse condition at the Northwest Municipal Vehicle auction: eight Ford Crown Victorias, a Dodge Dakota 4X4, three Ford E- 150s (two of them vans), two Ford F-450s, a Jeep Wrangler, a crane carrier, a Dodge Charger 2007, a Ford Explorer, a Ford F-350 with a lift gate, an I.H. 4700 with a utility body.

… that the Lincoln Motor Company set up shop in the 900 block of Sherman on a sunny Saturday. New shiny cars were parked in the spaces on the west side of the street, and it looked like folks could get in and maybe even take a spin. TG wonders how they fed the meters, but wonders even more whether, if any sales of cars were made that day, the City can get the sales tax revenue.

… that folks may have noticed the construction fence around what used to be a Citgo station at Dempster and Fowler. The City says it expects the station “to re-open under new ownership in the relatively near future. “The construction fence came at the request of the fire department. The pumps are still there but are boxed in as a security measure. The City’s director of economic development said he did not believe the IEPA or the EPA would be involved, since the tanks are not being removed but will continue investigating. Stay tuned.

… that members of the Kiwanis Club of Evanston flipped burgers and grilled hot dogs – about 3,500, all told – at the CommUNITY Picnic in Ingraham Park in last Sunday’s sweltering heat. Just a few blocks south, lively music at Taste of Armenia was tailor-made for folk dancing in the street.

… that ComEd began tree-trimming last week along the Union Pacific right-of-way – first, along Custer from Main to about Evanston Lumber, and second, also on the west, along Sherman from Greenwood to Lake. According to the City, many of the trees are “classified as ‘trapped,’ which means they have nowhere to grow vertically due to the overhead wires.” Moreover, the City says about 90% of the trees in those areas are tree of heaven or box elder, which are “very invasive and should be removed.”
… that the colony collapse disorder affecting honeybees around the country seems to be something like death by a thousand cuts. Diana Yates, an editor at News Bureau, interviewed University of Illinois entomologist and Institute for Genomic Biology director Gene Robinson, an expert on honey bee behavior, genomics and biology. Among other things, Ms. Yates wrote that Mr. Robinson said, “Whether one considers introduced pests or pathogens, degraded habitats or more extreme climate, it’s just harder to thrive out there. …  What this means is that when an already stressed beehive is exposed to yet another factor, the bottom falls out and we see CCD, a complete colony collapse.” There are a few causes, he said: pathogens, parasites (the varroa mite, a parasite of honeybees) and poor nutrition (related to commercial beekeeping) and pesticides. Bumblebees have also experienced “serious population declines,” he said.

… that, even though honey bees are in decline, wasps and other stinging insects are prevalent in Evanston. Folks in the RT neighborhood have been “stung and stung again” by some angry ones recently. Especially at this time of year, when they are looking for protein to get them through the winter, folks should be careful.

The Traffic Guy thinks …
… that drivers should resume their school-year care, as kids will be walking on the sidewalks, riding in the streets, crossing at intersections – and elsewhere – that is, being kids. Folks may notice a police presence at the schools over the next two weeks, the purpose of which is to “promote safety and traffic awareness for everyone coming and going from our local schools.” Here is advice from the EPD for drivers and pedestrians: “When approaching a marked school crossing zone between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m., on school days when school children are present, a driver must stop all wireless phone communications; yield to any children or adults crossing in the crosswalk area; and reduce vehicle speed to 20 mph. Pedestrians should cross at designated intersections and crosswalks, and only when the pedestrians have the right of way. Further, pedestrians should not “suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a moving vehicle, which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.”

… that it’s a good thing the Evanston Police Department declined the offer of old military paraphernalia. Our officers are too smart to have to resort to military-grade weaponry and vehicles. In other words, “Thanks, but no tanks.”