… that the Evanston Fire Department placed a spiffy new 100-foot aerial ladder truck (Truck 23) in service on Nov. 2. The truck, which will operate out of Fire Station #3 at 1105 Central St., replaces a 23-year-old tractor-drawn, rear tiller-steered 100-foot aerial ladder truck. “We are appreciative of the City Council for their approval to purchase the truck, which will allow our Department to maintain the excellent service and response times our residents deserve and expect,” said Fire Chief Greg Klaiber.

… that residents may now pay their City of Evanston annual wheel tax (used to be vehicle sticker but now the City is stickerless) and purchase residential parking permits for 2016. All vehicles registered through the Illinois Secretary of State to an Evanston address are required to pay the wheel tax. The deadline to pay the wheel tax and purchase parking permits is Dec. 15. Compliance will be checked by License Plate Recognition (LPR) technology, which stores the license plates of all vehicles registered to an Evanston address, as the City no longer issues vehicle stickers to prove payment of the wheel tax. Failure to pay the wheel tax may subject drivers to parking tickets.
On Oct. 28, preprinted renewal notices were mailed to residents with an online renewal ID and instructions. Residents are encouraged to submit the wheel tax payment early, either online at cityofevanston.org/wheeltax or by mail. There is no additional fee (called a “convenience” fee elsewhere) to pay online. Those who wish to pay in person but did not receive a preprinted notice or the information is not correct on the notice may pick up an application in the Collector’s Office at the Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave. Wheel tax payments may be made in-person at the Levy Senior Center, Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center, Evanston-based currency exchanges, and the Morton Civic Center’s Collector’s Office. Check the City’s website for times and other information, cityofevanston.org/wheeltax, or call/text 847-448-4311.

… that, speaking of the taxes to operate a car, resident Kayla Cohen suggested that TG “inform readers that the Illinois Secretary of State’s office is suspending the mailing of renewal reminders for license plates and stickers. They still will send out reminders for driver’s licenses, however.” The Secretary of State’s website says it is suspending the mailing of reminders to renew licenses plates and stickers due to the lack of a state budget. By suspending this service, it will save approximately $450,000 per month and extend its ability to mail vehicle registration renewal stickers, titles and license plates to vehicle owners for a few months longer before its postage account is depleted. Motorists can sign up to receive reminder notices by email. Even though reminder notices will not be sent out, fines for driving on expired plates will continue, so there will be at least some cash flow there, maybe keeping the State running a little longer. The Secretary of State’s website is: www.cyberdriveillinois.com. Watch out folks.

… that plans are underway to renovate the west parking lot for the Ryan Field football stadium in 2016. The improvements include stormwater retention, green infrastructure (bioswales) to help manage stormwater, better pedestrian crossings, landscaping both on the perimeter and within the lot, and the addition of a sidewalk running the length of the lot’s east side. So far, there is no news of anyone buying the naming rights to the parking lot.

… that the Evanston Fire Department and the Northwestern Police tied, 10-to-10 in an epic volleyball game at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Oct. 30.

… that Evanston is dubbed “The Suburb That Tried To Kill the Car” in an article by T.R. Goldman appearing in Politico Magazine on Oct. 22. Here’s some excerpts: “It takes, in fact, a few extra minutes in the neighborhood to realize what’s different – and what’s missing. Downtown Evanston – a sturdy, tree-lined Victorian city wedged neatly between Lake Michigan and Chicago’s northern border – is missing cars. Or, more accurately, it’s missing a lot of cars. Thanks to concerted planning, these new developments are rising within a 10-minute walk of two rail lines and half-a-dozen bus routes. The local automobile ownership rate is nearly half that of the surrounding area. … As it turns out, what looks like normal urban gentrification actually marks the success of one of the most revolutionary suburbs in America. And its approach to development is fast becoming a model across the region – a model even embraced by its urban neighbor to the south … [Transit Oriented Development, TOD] – the urban design movement that’s helped revolutionize places like Evanston – the idea that developers will want to incorporate mass transit into their planning and, in turn, discourage new residents from owning cars in the first place. It’s a planning concept that’s helped turn around Evanston’s trajectory, luring back residents and a new generation of millennials for whom ‘density’ is actually a positive attribute.”
Who knew that the downtown developers were so civic minded? TG thought they were attempting to increase their profits by maximizing apartment or condominium units in their high rise buildings, while minimizing the space allotted for parking.

… speaking of parking and TOD, Council approved a developer’s application to provide zero parking spaces as part of a project to convert second floor office space into 9 dwelling units (three 2-bedroom, two 1-bedroom, and four studios) at 309-323 Howard Street. Under the zoning code, 12 parking spaces were required. In justifying the waiver, City staff said, “The property is located in a transit oriented area that includes a pedestrian-friendly commercial district, three CTA train lines (Red, Purple and Yellow) at the Howard Street CTA Station, one PACE bus route, and seven CTA bus routes.” Residents should be thankful the City was not asked to finance the conversion.

… that, as in prior years, the City’s Transportation/Parking committee approved free holiday parking in the City’s three Downtown Self-Park Garages at Sherman Plaza, Maple Avenue and Church Street between 5 p.m. and midnight on weekdays and all day on Saturdays beginning Nov. 26 through Jan. 2. In addition, during the same period, two-hours of free parking will be available at Lot 60, located at 1234 Chicago Ave., after 5 p.m. on weekdays and between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturdays. Sundays are already free. Staff said the intent of the measure “is to encourage individuals to patronize the downtown business area and utilize the convenient parking in the garages for shopping, fine food and entertainment during the upcoming holiday season.” Shop and dine in Evanston!

… that parking on the south side of Grove Street between Wesley and Ashland
is now prohibited. In addition, there is a new “resident only” parking district on
both sides of Grove from Asbury west to the alley. Parking is prohibited in that area between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Mondays
through Saturdays (except national holidays) for all vehicles that do not have a valid permit to park in the district. And residents in the district may purchase a permit.  

… that someone rescued this dog from the alley and set it up in Grandmother Park.

… that Beacon Academy was given a special use permit to move its school to the first and second floors of One Rotary Center, 1560 Sherman Avenue, where Pivot Point used to be. Beacon opened its school two years ago at 622 Davis St., but expects to outgrow the space by the 2016-17 school year when it anticipates it will reach full capacity with four grade levels totaling 180-200 students and 40-50 employees. The new space at One Rotary Center is about double the space it has at its current location. Most classes will take place One Rotary Center, but approximately 25% of the program will continue to take place at other locations, such as the Evanston Public Library, Noyes Cultural Arts Center, Piven Theater, and the McGaw YMCA. Approximately 50% of the current student population is from Evanston. At full capacity, the school will bring approximately 250 people to the downtown.

… the number of single-family detached homes sold in Evanston in the first three quarters of 2015 was 392, up 18.4% compared to the same period in 2014. The median sale price in September 2015 was $502,000, up 0.4 percent compared to $500,000 a year ago.

The Traffic Guy thinks …
… that Northwestern University’s decision to contribute $1 million each year, for five years, to the City to be used on projects agreed to between the City and NU is something that is long overdue, but a welcome good start. Hopefully the “Good Neighbor Fund” will continue and expand in subsequent years.