Is this a “love lock?”RoundTable photo

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… that The Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) Holiday Train will make stops on Evanston’s Purple Line tomorrow and Saturday. Santa will be in his sleigh atop an open-air flatcar carrying his reindeer and decorated holiday trees and, at each stop, he and a team of elves will distribute candy canes and spread holiday cheer. Here’s the CTA description: “The outside of the six-car train is adorned with holiday seasonal images. Thousands of twinkling lights outline the shape of the train and windows, with even more lights running across the tops of the cars. Interiors of the cars are decked with thousands of multicolored lights, red bows, garland, and red and green overhead lighting. The hand poles are wrapped to look like candy canes.” The holiday train generally operates from 1 to 8 p.m. on weekends; the fare is the same as on typical CTA trains.

… that the City is purchasing 1823 Church St., the former home of Boocoo. Folks may remember that there were two groups hoping to take over the place. One group hoped to restore it into a cultural/music center. The other group was pushing to put social services there. Stay tuned.

… that the City will contract with Construction Consulting & Disbursement Services, Inc. of Morton Grove for some minor improvements – about $90,000 worth – to Chandler-Newberger Center. The company will take care of rusting shower partitions and deteriorating floors in the restrooms, optimize the office layout for better use by the staff and replace the emergency-exit devices.

… that KLF Enterprises of Markham will get a $126,000 City contract for leaf and debris hauling.

… that during the Thanksgiving holiday “Click It or Ticket” campaign, which was part of a statewide campaign, issued the following: 42 seat belt citations; two DUI arrests; three citations for driving with suspended/revoked licenses; seven citations/tickets for driving without insurance; 12 for speeding; 35 for distracted driving (many with cell phones); and 12 miscellaneous other traffic-related citations.

… that the City is asking residents to sign up to be volunteer snow-shovelers (if it ever comes to that this so-far-mild winter). Volunteers throughout Evanston are needed for the entire 2014-15 winter season, and there is a particular need for volunteers in Evanston’s 2nd, 7th and 8th wards. Conversely, seniors and those with a disability who are unable to shovel their walks can request help from one of these volunteers. Those who wish to sign up or to request assistance can visit or call or text 847-448-4311.

… that ComEd contractors will implement a temporary traffic control plan on Oakton from east of the North Shore Channel to just east of Hartrey between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. today and tomorrow, Dec. 18 and 19. Crews will be working in the manholes on the south side of Oakton St. to replace underground cables. No power outages will be required. Traffic will remain open in both directions, with arrow boards and barricades guiding drivers through the work area.
ComEd crews will also make system improvements in the alley between 1712 and 1716 Emerson through Saturday. As part of the project, ComEd will replace two of its feeders. No residential power outages will occur during this time. The alley will be closed to all traffic 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but will reopen for use after 4:30 p.m.

From our readers:
TG: I just tried to “renew” my “wheel tax” on line. When you try to “renew” online you’re actually sending “applying.” Then you have to wait 10 – 15 days to get approved, get notified and then pay. But I can just slip a check in the envelope and drop it off at the Civic Center. Why are we wasting time and money going back and forth approving me when I have a renewal form? Why can’t I renew online without going through an approval process? Why is doing this online a convenience? Makes no sense. Whose idea was this anyway?

From TG: TG agrees with you and has always felt that the “convenience” charges, etc., for doing business online represent a convenience not for the consumer but for the business or organization, which conveniently receives an extra few bucks for the privilege of saving paper. TG does not know whose idea this was – probably the marketing person for the software company promised an easier time for City workers. It seems the City is going paperless in many ways to collect money – parking tickets, parking meters, water bills, etc. Good luck, though. Maybe some bugs will be out of the system after a few more snafus.

… that on a recent weekday morning ther were more cars in the Starbuck’s parking lot and drive-through on Dempster near Dodge than in the entire Dempster/Dodge shopping plaza. Which goes to show that people will come to a place they can believe in. Coming soon, just east of Starbuck’s, will be Curt’s Café South, where teen mothers can learn a trade.

The Traffic Guy thinks …
… or, rather, wonders whether Evanston will become a site for love locks. The popular tradition of affixing a padlock, sometimes with an avowal of love, onto the Pont des Arts in Paris may be on the outs there. ABC News recently reported a love lock lockdown: Officials in Paris “announced a plan …to remove the lock-laden railings and replace them with thick glass panels, paving the way for a potential end to the practice. Authorities and residents of the City of Light have voiced disapproval for the budding tradition since the practice began.” ABC News reported that Lisa
Taylor Huff, who began the “No” campaign with partner Lisa Anselmo in January, said, “Parisians, most of them, really hate these love locks … It’s vandalism, and it’s taken the ambiance away from the bridges.”

Well, the tradition has crossed the pond and a pathway along Lake Murray Dam in South Carolina is becoming The Place for love locks. Can the North Shore Channel be far behind? And, by the way, how much additional weight will a few hundred love locks add to a bridge, a cyclone fence or an athletic field?

… de gustibus non es disputandum: The architecture critic for the Chicago Tribune thinks that NU’s newest behemoth jamming up Evanston’s lakefront is in good taste, but he intensely dislikes the plans for the George Lucas Jabba-the-Hut-esque museum along Chicago’s lakefront.

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Merry Kwanzaa and a Happy New Year.