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At the height of midsummer, Council chambers are generally quiet, as a sleepy warm calm settles in over City business. Generally, vacations and festivals fill aldermanic hours, as business waits for school to start again – and for the inevitable budget season that follows shortly thereafter.
On July 25, though, the normal pattern was broken. Starting with Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl’s announcement that she would not stand for re-election, the evening’s work included far more than just the typical summer fare like lawn-watering restrictions and the City’s pesticide policy, both of which did appear on the agenda.
International Stewardship of the Lake
Regarding lawn-sprinkling, Mayor Tisdahl asked for a report on the policy and why Evanston limited watering to every other day. A resident requested an explanation, she said, “but he’s not here” on meeting night. Perhaps because he read the report ahead of time.
Dave Stoneback, the City’s Director of Public Works, said the watering restrictions are a product not just of City law, or state law, or even federal law, but came out of an international accord regarding the use of Lake Michigan water. In interpreting the accord, the U.S. Supreme Court has weighed in, as has the Illinois legislature. The result: Any community using Lake Michigan water must restrict lawn-sprinkling such that no one may water on consecutive days and that watering must be limited to times of the day when less evaporation occurs.
In other words, Evanston cannot change its ordinance, and watering on consecutive days must be prohibited. City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said the City is not monitoring water use, though.
Integrated Pest Management
On to pesticides. The City’s Environmental Services Bureau Chief Paul D’Agostino presented a report on the usage of pesticides and herbicides on City property. The City has “reduced overall pesticide usage by over 50%, including products containing glyphosate,” the active ingredient in the weed killer RoundUp, since passing an Integrated Pest Management Resolution in 2010, he said.
Further, beginning in May 2016, “all pesticide use along lakefront parks was discontinued.” Twice a year, however, the City does treat “hard-to-maintain areas” with “non-selective herbicides” that “may or may not contain glyphosate.” These areas include fence lines, sidewalk cracks, shrub beds, sign- and light-pole bases, and brick paver areas.
The City plans to continue finding ways to reduce pesticide use and look for safer alternatives. “We are currently experimenting with the use of a vinegar solution to ‘burn’ the weeds in paved areas and sidewalks,” Mr. D’Agostino said.
Perhaps nothing says “summer” more than butterflies, which flitted their way onto the agenda in the form of a grant application for enhancing habitats along the canal near the Ecology Center and elsewhere. The $100,000 grant from the Chi-Cal Rivers Fund through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation would require a dollar-for-dollar match from the City. Council voted unanimously to apply, and a decision is expected in December or January.
If awarded, the grant would be used to enhance habitats for pollinators, migratory birds, and monarch butterflies. Parts of Twiggs Park and Harbert Park, including the observation decks over the canal, would be improved to help form a “stepping stone” path to the lake for birds and butterflies.
Cider House Rules
At the Planning and Development, a little autumn crept into the meeting in the form of apple cider. The North Shore Cider Company (NSCC) will be coming to Howard Street, leasing space from the City at 707 Howard St. Chris Collins of NSCC said he expects to be selling cider as early as this fall. Cider takes about a month to ferment, and his apples should be arriving in August. He expects to sell 22-ounce bottles of cider for about $7 each.
Council suspended the rules to allow for immediate passage to allow Mr. Collins to get started right away. The closest cidery is in Lincoln Park, said Mr. Collins. “Lincoln Park and Howard Street – very similar,” said Ald. Rainey.
Apple cider, and football parking, also brought fall to mind. Council approved without discussion or controversy a new three-year agreement allowing parking on the Evanston-Wilmette Golf Course during Northwestern football home games. Once again, holes 1, 2, 11, and 12 will be used for parking. The new agreement allows more time for tailgating: Parking can begin four hours prior to kickoff, compared to the three hours allowed by the previous agreement.
New Program at the Moran Center
Council approved without discussion a professional services agreement with the James B. Moran Center for the “Certificate of Rehabilitation Program.” The center will help no fewer than nine Evanston residents with criminal records obtain a certificate of rehabilitation, a key component of becoming employed. The cost to the City: $30,000.
The City entered a new five-year lease with the City Newsstand at Chicago Avenue and Main Street. Readers may be happy to hear the newsstand will continue to operate, offering as good a selection of periodicals as anywhere in the region.
The City also agreed to a new five-year term with Enterprise car rental at 1810 Maple Ave., the ground floor of the Maple Avenue garage. Enterprise also leases parking spaces in the garage for its rental cars. The lease can be renewed, which would take the term all the way into 2025.
Finally, there was a hint of winter in the air. Council agreed to a one-year contract to purchase up to 7,500 tons of road salt at $51.21 per ton – with the hope that the City stays well short of the “up to” figure.