Rabbit tracks in the early morning snow, Jan. 31.

… that Groundhog Day this year, 02/02/2020 was palindromic, the first time since 969.  

… that the Evanston Police Department is reporting a rash of car burglaries “in parking lots frequented by contractors and DIYers” and reminds patrons of such stores to secure their vehicles, keep expensive tools out of sight and keep lockboxes locked.

… that Pace bus service proposes to make adjustments to five routes – 215, 225, 226, 422 and 423 – to add a new route, 424 and discontinue the 210 and the 421. Pace wants to hear from the public and is holding meetings to gather input from those who will be affected by those changes. Meetings are scheduled in various locations in early February. The Evanston will be 6-8 p.m. on Feb. 11 in the Levy  Center. The final meeting will be 5-7 p.m. in the Wilmette Public Library.  Pace notes that these proposed changes came from the North Shore Transit Service Coordination Plan and Market Analysis, a joint study completed in 2017 by Pace and CTA. More information is available online on the North Shore Coordination Plan page in the Projects & Studies section at PaceBus.com.

… that crews were in Evanston early on Jan. 30 to set up for filming scenes from the FX television series “Fargo.” Apparently, many of these took place in alleys.

… that the City has purchased the small vacant piece of property at 1829 Simpson. The lot, the cost of which was about $55,000, will be added to Twiggs Park. How gratifying – and how rare – for the City to acquire green space and not build something on it.

… that the City has removed parking lot 38, the lot behind the McGaw Y, from its rosters. Seems the parking revenues, which were shared by the McGaw Y, were disappointingly paltry, given that the City had to maintain the lot. So the McGaw Y will manage it now and offer free parking there for its members.

… speaking of parking, the City plans to convert up to 24 spaces in Lot 1, South Boulevard and Hinman Avenue from parking for permit-holders to parking for commuters. The rate, consistent with other commuter lots, will be $0.50 an hour from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mon.-Sat.

… that the City has again contracted with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRDGC) to dispose of the sludge generated by treating the water at a cost of $151,800. The sludge is created as the water is treated. A City memo explains it: Coagulants are added to raw lake water, forming a “floc,” which helps to trap and solidify impurities in the water and allow them to settle out prior to filtration. This material settles out as part of the mixing, sedimentation and settling process into basins located underground on the north side of the Water Treatment Facility. During October and April of each year, this sediment, or sludge, is removed from the basins by manually washing and rinsing it into a sewer and sending it to the MWRDGC for treatment. The City memo also notes that there are very few other means of removal and each of them would entail “the dewatering and drying of the sludge to a degree where it could be trucked away. The space available at the treatment plant site prohibits the installation of drying beds, silos or centrifuges that would be needed to dewater/ dry the sludge. So there it is: sludge in a nutshell.

Just FYI: There are 155.33 miles of water mains in the City’s water-distribution system, and a majority of these are 80-100 years old, some older.

… that the Liquor Commission has been busy increasing and decreasing liquor licenses here. Tapas Barcelona, under new management, has its liquor license. Liquor licenses for restaurants no longer in business have now been eliminated: Pete Miller’s, Rock n’ Ravioli and Jilly’s Bistro on Sherman Avenue.

On the plus side, La Macchina Café received a liquor license, as did SPACE (and they did finally pay the money they owed the City). And adult patrons of PG-13 or R-rated movies at Century Theaters may now purchase two alcoholic beverages rather than just one. And patrons of package liquor stores may now be able to sample the liquor there, just as they do in grocery stores here. For a formerly dry town, Evanston is on the cusp of becoming a party city.

And – a plus to NU and a minus to the neighborhood – Levy at Welsh received a license to serve alcoholic beverages at Welsh-Ryan arena.

… NU and the City have agreed on a salt-and-brine contract. The City will sell road salt and brine to NU for a price 10% above cost.

… that crews from Tribus Services, hired by Nicor Gas, will be modernizing some meters here over the next month. The process seems relatively hassle-free; it takes about 15 minutes; and in most cases the residents will not need to be home.

… that gasoline prices are rising in the Chicago area – almost 4? per gallon in the last week of January – averaging about 5 cents per gallon lower than a month ago but 53.2 cents per gallon higher than a year ago, according to information from GasBuddy.

… that the “supermoon season” begins March 9, with a full-moon supermoon, according to information in EarthSky.org. There will be two other full-moon supermoons, each in the spring, on April 8 and May 7. In the fall there will be three new-moon supermoons, on Sept. 17, Oct. 16 and Nov. 15.  The April 8 supermoon will be the closest and biggest and will cause “larger-than-usual perigean spring tides,” according to EarthSky.org.

… that Sunday (Feb. 2) is Groundhog Day, halfway between  the winter solstice and the spring equinox, Will he or won’t he show up? .

The Traffic Guy thinks …

… that the milder winters may offer a chance for pothole expansion. Readers doubtless know that it’s the warming and freezing that do this: Rain or melted snow or ice fills the hole, and then, when the temperature drops again, the frozen water pushes out and enlarges the pothole.

… that, as more and more residents say the parking situation here is untenable – which in turn affects businesses – TG hopes the City Council will do something to mitigate the situation. TG understands, of course, the need for money and the idea in some folks’ minds that people will pay almost anything just to shop and dine here, but the lure of free parking north and west of here may be too strong for some to resist – particularly those who have felt burned by what seems to be a zero-tolerance policy. What if residents could pay an extra $100 or $200 on their wheel tax and have that money automatically applied to parking? The City has license-plate recognition technology already, so the parking enforcement officers have the means to know with a quick scan whether the vehicle has already paid a fee to park there. Seems this would be more efficient – and somewhat less costly  than the parking app. And – and, and, and AND – it might mitigate the anxiety and frustration so many feel every time they push in coins or slide a credit card.