City Council met during spring break, and a three-person Administration and Public Works Committee was a testament to the vacation season. As City Council began there were only six aldermen on the dais as well, though two others joined as the meeting progressed. Given the agenda and lack of any controversy on it, members may have been better off sitting this one out.
Only two items were removed from the consent agenda, and both passed easily. First, restrictions to lawn watering passed 7-1 over Sixth Ward Alderman Mark Tendam’s objection. “I do think there are a lot of people like me with equipment that is maybe 10 years old” and can’t be programmed to water every other day,” he said.
Per the staff memo, “staff made comprehensive legislative revisions, which ensure compliance with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources requirements and address issues raised by residents since its introduction” on March 14.
Indeed, the four-paragraph proposed ordinance was largely rewritten. In short, between May 15 and Sept. 15, owners of odd-numbered properties may sprinkle their gardens on odd-numbered days, with a corollary for even-numbered properties. In no case, however, may sprinklers be operated between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
“I know we have to be compliant with state law, but there are some serious flaws here,” said Ald. Tendam. State law requires a limit on lawn sprinkling to every other day, and now Evanston ordinances do as well.
The other item removed from the consent agenda was the Northwestern football stadium parking lot rehabilitation. Last meeting, neighbors and the University agreed to a plan and Council praised both sides for working together to compromise. After that meeting, however, a group led by former Seventh Ward Alderman Jane Grover protested the plan.
Specifically, some neighbors wanted to retain the informal access to the alley midway between Central and Isabella streets. A meeting held by neighbors at the same time as the Administration and Public Works Committee meeting gave residents a chance to address the issue with Northwestern staff and others.
At the end of the day, however, plans were not changed. Current Seventh Ward Alderman Eleanor Revelle, whose ward includes the stadium and parking lot, said that before the meeting she was prepared to call for a hold to allow further discussion. After the meeting, though, she said, “I am not persuaded. … I want to side with the neighbors next to the parking lot. I don’t see any need to needlessly prolong this.”
Council agreed. The plan introduced at the previous meeting with neighbor support was passed finally and unanimously 8-0.
Consent items included an annual favorite, the purchase of “granular materials” by the Water and Sewer Department. Lara Biggs, the department’s Superintendent of Construction and Field Services, said the materials are used in water and sewer pipe replacement and repair to fill in areas around installed pipes. The cost: $36,000.
Another annual favorite is fire hydrant painting, an annual program that costs $21,300 this year. This is the fourth year of a five-year project that will result in all newly painted hydrants, and this year 255 of the City’s about 1,500 hydrants will be repainted. Those in in the Sixth and Seventh wards can look for spruced-up hydrants soon.
Those Tallmadge street lights keep falling down, and the City keeps replacing them. A recent windstorm took out a few more. Council approved the purchase of 14 new light poles for about $95,000, or just over $6,800 each. The light poles have been an Evanston fixture since 1979, leading some to wonder if they are nearing the end of their expected life. Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, and Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, have spoken of the light-pole wars from the late 1970s, and no one seems in a hurry to revisit the project. If more and more of the Tallmadge poles continue to fail, though, the City will have no choice but to take up the matter.
A parade of liquor licenses came before Council, and all passed without discussion or dissent. None were for new businesses, though one has not been open for a while.
Taco Diablo, Lulu’s and a new restaurant by the same owner in the same building, Five and Dime, took the first step toward obtaining a Class C license for their new location at the former Tom Thumb location across Davis Street from Taco Diablo’s original location. Taco Diablo burned down, along with Pine Yard and a nail salon, in December 2013. The new building should be ready shortly – the ordinance granting a liquor license was introduced on the consent agenda.
Two businesses changed ownership, requiring a liquor license change in which Council decreased the number of Class C licenses with one ordinance, and then added it back with a second. The Flat Top Grill and the E-Town Bistro at Hotel Orrington both have new owners.
Funky Monkey, across the street from the Library on Church Street, is getting a license. The restaurant opened last year in the space occupied by several previous restaurants.
Finally, Sketchbook Brewing Company is close to opening its new storefront tasting room, the ordinance allowing a new class P-2 license was introduced and the rules suspended to allow for immediate passage. The opening is expected to be soon.