Street lights kicked off City Council’s Monday night, August 17 discussions, with a general sentiment among the Administration and Public Works Committee that our insistence upon Tallmadge-style lights might be due for re-evaluation. It was just one example in the meeting of the changes afoot in the City of Evanston.
Tallmadge-style street light poles and fixtures come from a sole source, Graybar Electric, and cost about $4,300 for each light-and-pole combination. The City has “a total of 4,192 Tallmadge lamp post style street lights installed in the streets of Evanston,” according to the staff memo. For a little under $100,000, Council approved the purchase of 23 new fixtures.
Assistant Director of Public Works James Maiworm said the City is “working with a couple of vendors to replicate” the current style in a less expensive, longer lasting version, but for the time being, with some 26 lights down or damaged, Graybar is the only option.
The discussion did not end there, however, with Aldermen Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, and Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, recalling the decision some 35 years ago to select Tallmadge lighting. “It may be time for us to do another light study,” said Ald. Holmes.
Evanston selected these lights, said Ald. Rainey, in part because they directed light up, not down. “They are purely decorative,” she said.
At citizen comment, attorney Jeff Smith called the Tallmadge poles “terrible, terrible lighting [that] puts lighting where it is not needed,” straight up into the air.
Alderman Jan Grover, 7th Ward, said the City should investigate shading the top of the light to direct light down and avoid light pollution. “It would be nice if we could get [the fixtures] to be a little more customized,” particularly at this price point, she said. The City could “keep these decorative fixtures and adapt them to our current needs.”
Residents can look for possible changes to our light fixtures soon.
Also changing will be the City’s Director of Fleet Services, as Council recognized the retirement of Lonnie Jeschke. Since 2007, said City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz, Mr. Jeschke oversaw the replacement of about 70% of the City’s fleet through 253 vehicle purchases as well as “right-sizing” the fleet by reducing the number of vehicles owned.
Of Mr. Jeschke’s accomplishments, continued Mr. Bobkiewicz, “Perhaps the one I am most proud of is the work that he’s done to have our fleet designated as one of the 100 “Best Fleets in North America” among all municipal governments.” Evanston’s fleet finished as an honorable mention, outside the top 100, in 2014 and 2015, the only times it made the list of top fleets named by Tom C. Johnson and published in American City and County magazine.
Ald. Grover thanked Mr. Jeschke for educating her as to “the different types of engines” in the city’s fleet and for “the greening of our fleet.” Under Mr. Jeshke, the City added hybrid vehicles, new technology, and greater overall efficiency.
Speaking of newer technologies, Council agreed to a different form of modified street resurfacing dubbed by Ald. Grover “strip paving.” Rather than complete resurfacing or patching potholes, strip paving takes a top layer off the surface and replaces in a single layer a portion of the roadway.
“No, it is not just your lump of asphalt in a hole,” said Mr. Maiworm. The process “brings the street back to an almost 80-90% rating,” he added, pointing to the 300 block of Florence Avenue as an example.
Ald. Grover said residents were very happy with the results, and “when they find out how much less it costs” than complete repaving, they are even happier.
A new early childhood center, the Little Green Tree House, 2814 Central St., was introduced over the objections of a number of neighbors. Located next to Orange Theory fitness center, the new use will impact already limited parking availability according to three who live nearby.
Alderman Mark Tendam, whose 6th Ward includes the site, said his major concern is the proximity of the fire station. “I did not see congestion as an issue,” he said. The proposed use, an organic-themed day care facility in an area with very few child-care options, would bring in “new customers for unique and high quality businesses” in the area, he said.
The matter was introduced on the consent agenda and will return for final vote soon.
Finally, the former Ice House at 609 South Boulevard, just off the Purple Line, may soon be converted to loft spaces. Council approved a variance allowing 16 units when the ordinance required no more than 12. Resident Dan Coyne, a member of the Reba Church Community, spoke in favor of the development, saying 16 units would keep the development affordable.
Alderman Brian Miller, whose 9th ward includes the proposed project, also spoke in favor. Council introduced the measure without debate.