This City-owned pickup was parked in the visitors’ section of the Civic Center parking lot.

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… that the Evanston Police Department recently released the results of its holiday “Drive Sober of Get Pulled Over” campaign. All was calm but apparently 122 people were not bright enough to put on a seat belt. Conducted in partnership with the Illinois Department of Transportation, the traffic net caught violators and issued citations and made arrests for the following other traffic snarls:  1 “Failure to Secure Child” violation; 53 “Cell Phone” violations; 18 speeding citations; three arrests for a suspended driver’s license; 22 citations for “No Insurance”; 20 other citations and one warrant arrest.

… that, while the streets of Evanston offer only the humdrum potpourri of dead leaves, crumpled plastic bottles and other jetsam, there is real beauty at the lakefront. Ellen Galland took this photo at sunrise on Jan. 9. Just two days later, wave after wave pounded Lee Street Beach, throwing sand onto the sidewalk there. On Jan. 12, some of the sand layer was three or four inches deep.

… that, speaking of beauty, Fifth Ward residents may soon be able to work on a “Terminating Vista,” for 1829 Simpson, on the edge of Twiggs Park where Dodge dead-ends into Simpson. Seems the City will buy the small parcel of land there – where an entrepreneur had once proposed operating a restaurant serving Middle Eastern food. Readers may remember that the initial framework collapsed in a storm a few years ago. Readers may also remember that one of Indira Johnson’s “Emerging Buddha” heads once graced that area – not the same parcel but quite near there.

… that more seniors will be eligible for transportation assistance this year. The State’s Department of Aging increased its annual-income eligibility limits by $8,000 – to $44,533, allowed more seniors to qualify this year. Among the benefits for those who are eligible to receive them are the Secretary of State License Plate Discount, the Seniors Ride Free Transit Benefit and the Persons with Disabilities Free Transit Ride.

… that City Council this week approved a one-year, $28,000 contract materials with G&L Contractors of Skokie for the purchase of granular. These materials are used for infrastructure repairs, such as water, sewer and pavement. By a separate contract, the same company will also haul debris resulting from those and other activities.

… that “Residential Exemption Parking District 7” is now operational in the 2200 block of Lincoln. Between 7 and 9 a.m. Monday through Saturday, only residents may park on that part of the street. The City has this to say about residential parking permits: “Residential Parking Permits allow for residents living on the designated blocks within a district to purchase a parking permit that exempts them from posted parking restrictions in that area. Parking Permits, for residents that have paid for their wheel tax, cost $30 a year this year. Residents can purchase additional guest passes – 10 for $2.

… that the City now has a two-year contract – with three optional one-year extensions – with Backflow Solutions of Alsip for the Backflow Prevention (Cross-Connection Control) Management Program. The cost is $45,000 per year. This is a pretty important undertaking because the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency requires the City to maintain a database of potential cross-connections to the water distribution system. These cross-connections can be tricky, because they are places where non-potable water could backflow into the distribution system, creating, City staff says, “a local area of contamination.” For the most part, though, Reduced Pressure Zone (RPZ) devices protect the water-distribution system. Here in Evanston, there are about 4,600 RPZs, and the City requires annual testing of the water and certification of the results. The City also helps inspect the plumbing, locate the RPZs and confirm they have been properly installed. The City charges $35 per RPZ, and those monies can offset the cost of the contract. 

… that, speaking of water, Greeley and Hansen, the City’s chosen contractor for engineering services while the Oakton Street Water Supply Connection is being built, is asking for another $50,000 and 155 days to complete its work. Seems that challenging soil conditions, specialty pipe installation, weather, utility conflicts, and the availability of asphalt for final restoration have hindered the project.

… that the City is going to pay $127,000 for Berry Dunn McNeil & Parker LLC to come up with a strategic plan for parks and recreation for the City. It seems the City is so broke – but so desperate to have this plan – that more than half of the cost ($77,000) will have to come from bonds. Speaking of Parks & Rec, a certain City-owned pickup truck has been spotted more than once parked in the visitors section of the Civic Center Parking Lot. That section has a two-hour limit, and TG wonders how many City employees spend only two hours in the Civic Center. More, if the driver of that pickup spent more than two hours …. Who then calls the police to have our City Police Department issue a ticket for that City-owned vehicle? And who will pay that fine? Does this sound familiar? Is there a tad of hypocrisy involved?

… that the City will soon have another honorary street segment. The section of Lake between Asbury and Wesley will soon be known as “Thomas H. Brinkmann Way.” Mr. Brinkmann served the City as an alderman for several years and afterward volunteered his time to improve the community. According to the City’s resolution, Ald. Brinkmann “opposed the longstanding, established discrimination of minorities by local realtors who sought to keep Evanston firmly segregated, and organized a caucus of fellow Aldermen and Alderwomen to establish Evanston’s first Fair Housing Review Board and to fund public housing.” He also oversaw the drafting of the first Liquor Control Ordinance, post-prohibition, along the North Shore, permitting the sale of liquor in restaurants in formerly Dry Evanston.

… that Evanston’s public safety personnel are getting a drone. Of course, they call it something else – an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). The funds come from a 2017 Urban Area Security Initiative Grant Subaward from Cook County for the City’s UAV program, just under $7,000. A “select number” of firefighters and police officers will receive certified pilot training for the UAV. Public Safety personnel will develop a “comprehensive public safety UAV program in alignment with the mission and goals of the Evanston Fire and Police Departments that will provide direct and effective support to public safety operations in a safe, responsible, and transparent manner.” Some of the uses could include lakefront search and rescue operations; aerial views of large-scale police and fire rescue incidents; response to and management of natural disasters; crowd-control reconnaissance; and accident, fire and crime-scene photography. The timetable to complete training and make the UAV operational ends in early July – well, the City called it June 31 – maybe they think that’s the Leap Day for 2020. Although the device is unmanned (well, un-personed), TG thinks it should have a name. Perhaps sUAVe?

… that State Climatologist Trent Ford at the University of Illinois’ Illinois State Water Survey reports a “warm, dry December concludes a cold, wet year.” Temperatures throughout the State last month were higher and precipitation lower than normal for December. “More than 100 daily maximum temperature records were broken by month’s end,” he wrote, making December 2019 the 18th-warmest on record.

 “In total, 104 daily high maximum temperature records and 27 daily high minimum temperature records were broken over this time period, including a few dozen records on Dec. 25. This was the warmest Christmas day at 68 stations across the state. The daily average temperature in Decatur in Macon County on Christmas was nearly 20 degrees above the 30-year normal,” Dr. Ford wrote. He also said this was the 50th driest December on record in Illinois and marked the second straight month of below average statewide precipitation. Outlooks for January through March and March through May continue to show elevated odds of above-normal precipitation for the entire state, according to information from the Water Survey.

The Traffic Guy thinks …

… that the city of Mundelein could be a, well, guiding light for Evanston and other over-illuminated communities. It recently banned signs that spell messages in electric lights, such as the one at the high school and the one at the Levy Center. Really, folks, what do they add? TG assumes that one or two readers will reply – and awaits thoughtful answers to that question.