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Apparently, there was not a lot of pent-up activity building over the holidays among either City staff or Evanston residents. Council’s 2016 kicked off with one of the shortest meetings in recent memory, a meeting that included but one single public-comment speaker and not a single debated agenda item.

“To all those candidate vying for the Seventh Ward [aldermanic seat], this has never happened before,” quipped Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward. “Do not expect to be home before 8:45 p.m. Mondays,” she cautioned those seeking to replace former Alderperson Jane Grover, who recently resigned to take a position with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.

The Administration and Public Works Committee kicked off the evening by approving, without discussion, a debris-hauling contract associated with water and sewer construction projects. The cost: $136,000. Next was a sewer-lining construction project, for about $92,000. The evening was off and running.

Two new recycling packer trucks, at about $250,000 each, will be purchased, one each over the next two years. In what passed for controversy on this night, Ald. Rainey said, “I thought it was pretty interesting how much they’ve gone up.” The last two trucks, purchased in 2005, cost about $165,000 each, she said.

The new trucks come equipped with snow plows and additional equipment, said Deputy City Manager Erika Storlie. That, and “costs associated with ten or 11 years” of upgrades and general inflation.

The Committee then voted to pass $196,000 to the City’s parking fee third party managers, Duncan Solutions and Passport Parking. Each of the new parking meters “has a monthly fee for back office support of $7.25 that is estimated to be a monthly charge of $12,586 based on the current inventory of 1736 parking meters,” per the staff memo. That money goes to Duncan Solutions.

In addition, the “pay by cell phone” feature adds $0.35 for each transaction – a fee that is charged by Passport Parking. This fee “is collected by the City and then paid to the vendor on a monthly basis,” wrote Ms. Storlie in a memo to Council. That’s $45,000 to Passport –  the cost of modern convenience.

The new water storage tank, often a controversial topic in the past, slipped through the committee with only passing comment. At issue: engineering services for the Treated Water Storage Replacement project in the amount of nearly $1.2 million.

Dave Stoneback, Public Works Agency director, said the tank will remain in the same place at Lincoln Street and Campus Drive “unless Northwestern asks us to move it, and that would be at their cost.”

The Committee voted to pay $101,322 to renew membership with the Northwestern Illinois Regional Crime Laboratory. Rather than submit evidence to the State’s crime lab, the City pays to use a regional lab.

The State crime lab simply took far, far too long to turn around evidence, said Deputy Chief of Police Jay Parrot. DNA reports come back in 35 days, drug analysis in 20 days, DUI kits in 13 days, fingerprints in 27 days, ballistics analysis in 64 days, and sexual assault kits in 18 days, according to a memo from Chief Richard Eddington.

If submitted to the Illinois State Lab, said Deputy Chief Parrot, “we might not get them back for several years.” The Committee agreed to re-up the regional lab membership.

Two new restaurants coming to town means two new liquor licenses. Peppercorns Kitchen is taking over the space formerly occupied by Great Clips on Davis street between Chicago and Orrington avenues. Owner Nan Luo said the restaurant promises authentic Chinese cuisine, and will be the owner’s second restaurant. The first is in Chinatown.

La Concinta takes over what was once the Greek Fire restaurant on Chicago Avenue between Church and Davis streets. Owners Rachel Angulo and Benoit Angulo said they met in New Orleans, where they continue to own a food truck. They operate a food truck in Chicago and Evanston, and will now expand into a brick-and-mortar restaurant. They promise “Venezuelan inspired Latin America food,” said Ms. Angulo.

Both restaurants seek Class D liquor licenses, and will pay $2,800 annually for the right to serve alcohol during meals. They were introduced without opposition and will appear for final passage at the next meeting.

The Planning and Development Committee met as well, and lasted only a few minutes. Passing without opposition: naming an Ecology Center classroom the Elizabeth A. Patterson Classroom.”

A request to convert 44 rooming-house units into larger dwelling units, at 860 Hinman Ave., at the corner of Main Street and Hinman Avenue, was introduced without debate. The plan is to add kitchens to units that currently do not have them.

At Council, only two items came off the consent agenda. The first was a suspension of the rules requiring two readings matter, for a second-floor addition on Dewey Avenue, passed without comment. Next, a proposal to codify automobile and truck rentals in the zoning code came off the consent agenda for the sole purpose of amending the ordinance to limit such use to Industrial areas and specifically eliminate such use in commercial areas.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward said existing car rental establishments will be grandfathered in and can remain where they are. The new ordinance will apply only to new businesses.

With that, Council called it a night.