City planners Scott Mangum, Johanna Leonard and Lara Biggs with Mayor Stephen Hagerty hold the American Planning Association Award - Illinois Chapter, which they received for the Fountain Square renovation project.   RoundTable photo

Council members spent more time listening than debating at the public part of the Oct. 14 meeting, before they retreated into executive session.

Mayor Stephen Hagerty presented a proclamation for the 150th anniversary celebration of the First Congregational Church. He also presented displayed an award presented to City planners by the American Planning Association for their work on the Fountain Square renovation, which they said was “a visionary agenda, well executed.”

Barbs

Many but not all of the speakers during public comment at the City Council meeting and the Administration and Public Works and Planning and Development committee meetings, held immediately prior to the Council meeting, came to voice concerns and objections.

Carlis Sutton and Betty Ester, members of the Citizens Network of Protection, each objected to the City’s creation of a police oversight committee, which they said, had been formed without acknowledging their views or proposals. “The Citizens Network of Protection has been marginalized,” Ms. Ester said.

Beth Stare, a member of Ridgeville United for Equity, asked the City to become involved with the Ridgeville Park District, an independent taxing body that maintains a center and six parks in south Evanston. She said some progress has been made with the Ridgeville Park District Board.

Mike Vasilko said the City wastes money and thus has no funds for reparations. “Have the 1% pay for Robert Crown and give the rest of the money to Alderman Robin Rue Simmons for reparations,” he said.

Jerry Jacover, Judy Jacover, Ken Proskie, Yvi Russell and Mary Rosinski were among the speakers urging Council members not to approve Northwestern University’s request for a zoning change to allow the University to hold for-profit events in the athletic arenas they own in a residential area. Each spoke of the harm to the neighborhood, the local businesses and ultimately to the City should aldermen fail to stand by its present zoning.

“I’m here to tell you an easy way to make money,” said Barbara Janes. “Make Lincoln Street Beach into the dog beach.” High lake levels have submerged the City’s usual dog beach. “The dog beach has generated $65,000 per year – when we had a beach,” she said. Northwestern University has not publicly acknowledged that it does not own the beach, which belongs to the City of Evanston or possibly the people of Illinois under the public trust doctrine.

Underground Debt

The City will borrow up to $1.7 million from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) Water Pollution Control Program to rehabilitate the large diameter sewer on Greenleaf Street between Dewey and McDaniel avenues. According to a memo from City staff, there are seven miles of 36-inch diameter and larger, hundred-year-old sewers constructed of brick or clay tile beneath the streets of Evanston. The estimated cost to rehabilitate these sewers using a cured-in-place pipe lining process is $14.4 million.

The City has already borrowed $5.5 million from the IEPA, which funded just under half of the sewers – 2.8 miles. The new loans will allow the rehab of 3,380 feet of large-diameter sewer main – out of sight, perhaps, but on the books.

Drinking Foursome

Four restaurants have new liquor licenses: Kokomo Cuisine, 1639 Orrington Ave.; Zentli, 1813 Dempster St.; Sea Ranch Sushi Evanston, 518 Dempster St.; and Hearth, 1625 Hinman Ave.

Each received a Class D liquor license, which allows liquor to be sold to people 21 years and older for consumption on the premises. 

Y No Beds? One Is Always There.

As aldermen were looking at the list of recent bills for the City to pay, Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, asked about bills from the Hilton Orrington Hotel for lodging in late September and early October, totally more than $1,600. “Why are we putting up people in the Orrington Hotel – these were cases of domestic violence and sexual assault. We have a contract with the YWCA. They hold two beds for us each month for $12,500 a month.”

Interim Health and Human Services Director Ike Ogbo said, “In [the YWCA’s contract], they are supposed to have two beds. They had no beds, and one of the victims was going to be transferred to a homeless shelter.”

“She should not have been transferred to a homeless shelter. If we’re paying $12,500 a month to have two beds, will they [the YWCA-Evanston/North Shore] pay us back? We need to be reimbursed, and if we don’t get reimbursed, we need to know why.”

Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, said, “I’m concerned about the two beds. By our contract, they would always have two beds for us. I’m concerned that we’re paying and not getting them. I want a report on how many times our beds are occupied by our referrals.”

 “They eventually did give them a room,” Mr. Ogbo said.

Karen Singer, Executive Director of the YWCA-Evanston/North Shore, told the RoundTable, “Our contract with the City is for an array of services. The contract stipulates that we provide legal advocacy to Evanston residents at the Police Department and in our District 2 Court-based program, as well as a comprehensive array of services to victims including free counseling, employment and housing support and specialized training for Evanston law enforcement professionals, which we will deliver in the near future. The contract also stipulates that in addition to these services, we hold an emergency bed in the event the police need shelter for a victim. The funds we receive are for all these services provided on an ongoing basis, and not for a per-bed used basis. We have provided all the above services included in the contract. While we do not know the specifics of what Alderman Rainey was told, we did provide over six weeks of housing to the individual that was in question. The Interim Director of Public Health was fully informed of this.” 

Gender-Neutral Restrooms

On July 26, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a law requiring all single-occupancy public restrooms in Illinois be designated as gender-neutral beginning Jan. 1, 2020. Aldermen approved emendations to the City Code to reflect the State requirements. Any signage outside any single-occupancy public restroom must not designate a specific gender. According to a staff memo, “The law is consistent with a plumbing amendment the Evanston City Council approved in June, 2016, but the definition and signage sections of the 2012 International Building Code need to be updated to reflect the new state requirements. The law allows for a health officer or health inspector to inspect a place of public accommodation or a public building for compliance.”