Weeds and temporary ponding mark the unusable athletic field at James Park. City officials say the field next spring will have enough grass for team sports.RoundTable photos

At the Aug. 13 City Council meeting, City Engineer and Engineering and Capital Planning Bureau Chief Lara Biggs described the beginning of one and the endgames of four of the City’s capital projects.

“Serious excavation” on the new $50 million Robert Crown Center will begin after Labor Day, Ms. Biggs said. Crews will build the new center on the northeast corner of Main Street and Dodge Avenue so patrons can use the existing community center during construction. After the new center is complete, crews will raze the old center.

Two of the longest-running and most visible projects, the Fountain Square renovations and Sheridan Road improvements, are nearing completion.

Fountain Square is open for public use and enjoyment, though its most prominent features – the fountain and the veterans memorial wall – are yet to come. (See story on page 3.)

The Sheridan Road project began in 2017 with improvements between Chicago Avenue and Lincoln Street. This year the work centered on the portion of the road between Lincoln and Isabella Streets, and Ms. Biggs said the resurfacing should be completed by the end of October. Until then, drivers should continue to expect one-lane traffic in each direction, but “detours are over,” she said.

Weather is responsible for problems in two projects in south Evanston, Ms. Biggs said. A major rainstorm earlier this summer flooded sewers, causing backups into basements in 15 homes in the cured-in-place piping project on Kirk Street between Darrow and Dodge Avenues, she said.

The company repairing the pipes has been helpful, Ms. Biggs said, hiring a company to clean the basements and an insurance adjuster to help with the claims. The contract is now complete, she added.

What appears to be an abandoned athletic field in James Park will be functional next year, Ms. Biggs said. The new baseball and soccer fields at the north end of the park “were completed in 2017, but the company [Elanar] did not get the grass established this spring.”

Last fall, Elanar planted Legend Athletic SuperPro 2, a seed mix designed for athletic fields. When the grass failed to become established, the City consulted two outside landscapers, Van Enterprises and Klauss Brothers, Ms. Biggs said.  Both indicated that they would pursue a similar plan to Elanar’s if hired by the City, she added. 

Elanar over-seeded several times this past spring and summer, Ms. Biggs said. The grass has been growing there, but at a slower-than-hoped-for rate.

In response to a question from the RoundTable about ponding on the field, Ms. Biggs said, “We have been monitoring the grading of the field and the ponding situation, but we have only seen ponding happening during and immediately after a rain event, which is generally to be expected.  The field dries out fairly rapidly, which is what our goal for this project was.  There is some ponding that may be occurring adjacent to the play area – we did not actually put a drainage system in that location, as it should not affect the playability of the field.”

Elanar plans to begin weed management in the next two weeks, but the City plans to keep athletic teams from the field until next spring so the grass can grow strong enough to withstand the stress.

Robert Crown Center Project Community Meeting Aug. 31

The City of Evanston invites community members to attend its fifth neighborhood meeting for the Robert Crown Community Center, ice complex and library project. The meeting will take place at 7:30 a.m. on Aug. 31, at the construction trailer, located at 1801 Main St. (west of the current Center).

The meeting is hosted by construction manager Bulley & Andrews and Bowa Construction, in partnership with the City of Evanston.

 Topics of discussion include the sequence of construction, milestone dates, parking, construction traffic, delivery routes, work hours, contracts with Bulley & Andrews and with Bowa, and questions and answers.

More information on the construction program can be found by visitingbit.ly/RobertCrown-NewBuilding or calling/texting 847-448-4311.