Something you don’t see every day – a motorboat churning through the sanitary canal. Perhaps a sign of things to come, and an opportunity for boat-targeted businesses along the canal.Submitted photo

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 … that last weekend’s thunderstorms treated residents to many a light-show, accompanied, alas, with soggy basements and downed limbs.

…that even though fall is in the air and kids are back in school, it is still construction season. Alley and street resurfacing is coming to Crain Street, to Isabella, the alley north of Emerson and west of Jackson, and the alley north of Payne and east of McDaniel. Parkers beware! Alleys will be inaccessible, pushing parkers and refuse collection to the street during the six weeks of construction.

…that EPD’s Traffic Unit received three safety challenge awards from the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police. One went to Officer Dan Keeler for “looking beyond the safety belt.” Officer Keeler, per the City’s press release, pulled over a vehicle with unbelted occupants. Lo and behold, the occupants included “several suspects wanted for a vehicular hijacking that occurred in another jurisdiction.”

…that the Department also got second place in the Illinois Traffic Safety Challenge, “awarded to departments who target major traffic safety priorities: occupant protection, speeding, distracted driving, and impaired driving…. Winning programs effectively combine many different strategies to reduce crashes and injuries in their jurisdiction.”

…that, finally, the traffic unit received a “speed awareness award” for “efforts to increase traffic safety through speed enforcement… at high accident locations” like the Ridge Avenue corridor between Main and Church. Of course, when traffic cops pull over drivers on Ridge during rush hour, the resulting traffic definitely slows down all other traffic. Perhaps that’s another story…

…that the Transportation and Parking Committee filled its August 29 agenda with Traffic Guy gems! First, Oak Park gave up its Divvy bike program, and opportunity struck Evanston. The committee supported the purchase of three of Oak Park’s Divvy stations and 10 Divvy bikes per each station. When a City dumpster dives for Divvys, the price is right. The used stations, all three, would cost Evanston just $34,000; new stations and bikes generally run $55,000.

…that if approved by what has recently been a Divvy-skeptical Council, the new stations are tentatively set for Central and Lincolnwood, the Civic Center, and the Levy Center. The new stations would provide Divvy coverage to the west side of town, something city staff says has been missing.

…that the City also expects greater Divvy revenue when the current sponsorship deal expires. By partnering with Chicago, Evanston staff believes we could increase our share of Divvy ad revenue. The bottom line: staff estimates show the entire 14 station system costing the City $7,000 on the low end, and generating $94,000 on the high end. The Committee is one thing, City Council is another. Council has been skeptical of Divvy lately, and getting the $34,000 expense through during what we keep being told is a particularly tight budget season might be a rather steep hill to pedal up.

…that the loading zone in from of First Church of God may soon extend the entire length of the church on Simpson just west of Green Bay. The loading zone should be extended, as on Sunday morning and during other church events cars constantly drop off finely dressed parishioners and the currently, smaller loading zone just can’t handle the volume.

…that National Drive Electric Week is coming to Evanston. “Dozens” of electric vehicles will take over the Civic Center parking lot from noon to four Sunday, September 16. The Bears are playing Monday night, so that’s no excuse. No fumes, no noise – and free rides around the lot! Just watch out for cords – don’t get tripped up.

….that the Transportation and Parking committee also listened to multiple offers to purchase City-owned parking lots all over Evanston. No less than four parking lots are being considered as development lots. Of course it will come as no surprise to anyone that vacant lots are rare in Evanston, and when a developer sees a parking lot one-third full, eyes turn into saucers. The City set a bit of a precedent here by eliminating the lot at Chicago and Howard as part of the Evanston Gateway nature center and apartment project. Now, it is known to developers parking lots might be for sale.

…that the most likely lot to go is the one at 727 Main, between Custer and Sherman. Tucked along Custer and the Metra tracks is Dard Products, a “leader in the promotional products industry.” Dard made its name with “tagmaster,” stamped plastic items such as keychain danglers promoting businesses. Dard has put the Custer property on the market, and a developer wants to join it with the 727 parking lot to build 80 total units, plus retail street level, and at least 16 affordable units. There’s another parking lot behind Vogue fabrics, hidden and little used, that can take over whatever parking needs are eliminated, according to staff. The Traffic Guy will be watching!

…that the next most likely to go is Lot 1 on South near the Purple Line. The City is working with the Housing Authority of Cook County to develop a denser, mixed income residential development. Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th ward, has been calling for reuse of this lot for some time, and it looks like it’s going to happen.

…that there are pie-in-the-sky unsolicited proposals from Orange Properties to take two other lots off the City’s hands – right off Davis at 1614 Maple, across from the Davis Metra stop – certainly prime, developable real estate – and 825 Hinman, near Main Street – just as developable. According to staff, the Maple lot was a Post Office overflow parking facility until the City recently took it back. Now, it feels available. The City charges less than $50 a month for spots in the Hinman lot when market parking in the area goes for $100 to $150 per month. Perhaps the budget crisis can be explained after all. Watch for further developments, and perhaps future parking lot discussion. …

… that a pleasure boat was recently seen on the canal, cruising happily south, at this point under the Bridge Street bridge.

The Traffic Guy thinks …
…that the parking lot debate will be interesting and varied. TG now turns to faithful readers – what do you think about proposals to sell off City-owned parking lots to developers? Should the City investigate building additional parking decks, following the 7331 N. Sheridan lead?

Let TG hear from you – email your thoughts and comments to info@evanstonroundtable.com and write Traffic Guy in the subject line.