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Divided on Divvy
The City Council tied 4-4 on a proposal wherein the City would agree to purchase three new Divvy stations for about $33,000. Mayor Stephen Hagerty then voted in the proposal’s favor.
Some aldermen expressed frustration with the Divvy system.
Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said she dreaded having to explain to small business owners in her ward that the City was purchasing new bike stations when the possibility of rising parking fees – a development that adversely affects them– loomed.
Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, maintained that the City had other pressing transportation challenges that needed addressing, among them public transportation availability on Sundays and ADA-compliance in CTA stations.
Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, was also unenthusiastic, calling Divvy “outdated technology,” and further suggesting that the program was more beneficial for recreation than transportation needs.
But Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, said that the purchase would allow the City to have a better foothold on bike-sharing resources in the City, adding that stationless bike-sharing businesses have popped up in many locations and have led to problems in those places. Noting that Ald. Fleming was critical of how available Divvy bikes were for all Evanstonians, Ald. Wynne said, “By having the stations, we (have) control of where the bikes are. … I see this as an equity issue.”
Alderman Eleanor Revelle, 7th Ward, added, “The Divvy program is getting people to get out of their cars … I see Divvy as an important part of our climate health actions.”
Council voted in favor of two other Divvy-related proposals, one a three-year extension of the current contract, the other a revenue sharing agreement with the City of Chicago.
Jill Velan, the City’s parking division manager, spoke about a number of different possibilities City staff are investigating to potentially increase revenues from parking. Revenues have slipped significantly in the past few years, much of which was attributable to street meters, now outdated and prone to breaking down, going offline.
No solid proposals are ready yet, but staff are weighing benefits of adjusting fees for street parking and within City garages. Ms. Velan noted that garage fees have remained the same since the advent of the recession. But a key goal is to get people to use the garages at certain times of the week, when spaces often go unused but street-parking remains at a premium.Fine Response
A number of individuals weighed in on the ongoing controversy surrounding the potential demolition of the Harley Clarke mansion during public comments. They presented a letter from State Representative Laura Fine, registering Rep. Fine’s support for the efforts to save the mansion. U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky and State Representative Robyn Gabel also back those efforts.
City manager Wally Bobkiewicz said staff continue to review details surrounding the ownership and use of the Lincoln Street Beach. Dave Davis, a community relations official from Northwestern University, spoke during public comments: “Although the issue is complicated, I just want to be clear that the university has invested to modify the beach, and that we will continue to maintain the beach, and that we welcome Evanston residents to use the beach.”
Mayor Morton Remembered
At the beginning of the meeting, Mayor Hagerty paid tribute to former Mayor Lorraine Morton, who passed away Sept. 8, and asked Council members to share their memories of Mayor Morton.
“Evanston feels different somehow, knowing that’s she’s passed on,” said Ald. Wynne.
Ald. Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, added, “What an honor and a privilege to live in the neighborhood in which she resided and served for six decades.”
Mayor Hagerty also made note of the passing of Karen Chavers, who had long served on the staff of Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin.
Fire and Water
Evanston firefighters will conduct some of their training exercises in Winnetka rather than Skokie – a repercussion of the lawsuits between Evanston and Skokie over water charges. (See story on page 8.) Skokie no longer allows the Evanston Fire Department access to its drill tower, which they have shared since 2012. City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz told the RoundTable, “Skokie cancelled the agreement we have for training as water dispute began.”