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Good morning, Evanston. Welcome to the Ides of March and the early days of the coronavirus siege. The temperature of Lake Michigan yesterday was 41 at the Chicago crib and 43 at the shore.

Welcome to the Ides of March. One of the first things that come to mind when the Ides of March comes up is the assassination of Julius Caesar, which of course is why the day is considered unlucky. The old Roman calendar was pretty much set by the moon, with the Kalends being the new (generally invisible) moon, the Nones, the first quarter, and the Ides, the full moon. The Ides of March was also a day to settle debts, so maybe old Brutus and the others felt they had a score to settle.

The Traffic Guy hears …

… that last week, community members, led by artists Janet Austin, Emily Moorhead-Wallace and other Chicago Sculpture International artists, built a pollinator habitat structure at the Ecology Center.

… that the old Robert Crown Center is literally on the chopping block. Last week, according to the City, crews concentrated on mobilizing their equipment and abating the asbestos inside. Over the next three weeks, crews will be dismantling and hauling away the above-grade building sections. The final three weeks – weeks five to seven, according to the City’s timetable – will be for excavating and removing the foundations. That is going to be one remarkable hole in the ground. Crews will be working 7 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays, with an occasional Saturday thrown in “depending on weather conditions and contractor progress,” according to the City. The contractor, Bulley and Andrews, has said it “will follow all OSHA, IEPA, Cook County, and IDPH regulations to ensure the safety of workers and the general public, as well as for the proper handling and disposal of materials.” Here is what else the City and the contractor promise: “An independent environmental engineering firm will also perform ambient air monitoring to ensure air quality requirements are met. Water will be used extensively to control dust and dirt from becoming airborne. Vibration monitoring equipment will also be installed to alert the contractor in the event that construction-related vibrations approach levels which could potentially damage adjacent structures.” Anderson Pest Control sent a note to the City last month saying there has not been a mouse or rat problem in the building since last October, and the City has asked for further verification.

… that Harbert Park – TG’s favorite – will undergo renovations over the next few months with crews from Hacienda Landscaping in Minooka, Ill. By some time in July, if things go as planned, the park will have new playground equipment, a new basketball court, upgraded LED lighting, new site furnishings, a new picnic gazebo, and bike path/drainage improvements in certain areas. As might be expected, the playground and the adjacent picnic area will be closed during construction. Drivers are advised to observe the temporary  “No Parking” signs that will sprout up there from time to time.

… that, speaking of parking, the City is making the ParkEvanston mobile app even more enticing by implementing a “time transfer” program. TG mentioned last time that it was coming, and now it is here: Any time remaining for parking paid via the mobile app can be transferred to a parking space in another part of Evanston provided the rates are the same. And here is the best news about this; “Drivers do not need to take any action to transfer their time; time automatically transfers to any zone with the same hourly rate, including both surface lots and on-street parking. Maximum time limits for individual blocks and lots will still be enforced.”

… that Rotary International would like to install 10 globes throughout the downtown area. TG heard that nine of these would be  placed in public spaces and the 10th would be available for use in schools, but the application for approval by the City’s Design and Project Review Committee suggests all 10 will be downtown.

… that Feb. 6 was the hottest day in Antarctica on record – nearly 65°F, which was about the same temperature in Los Angeles on that day. Just a few days later, on Feb. 19, the District 202 (Evanston Township High School) School Board approved a resolution on climate action and sustainability at the high school. The prefatory clause states the District “recognizes climate change as a major threat locally and globally.”

The Traffic Guy thinks …

or, rather, hopes, as probably everyone does, that the hardships and complications will abate in a few weeks. Meanwhile, everyone can help the recommendations of the CDC, staying home as much as possible, keeping a six-foot or so “social distance” from each other and washing hands a lot. The RT homepage will have regular updates. 

… that if the City really is committed to sustainability and livability it would deny the application for a “freestanding sign with a commercial variable message sign (CVMS) component displaying messaging” for the new Robert Crown Center. In other words, another one of those lighted signs that junk up Dodge Avenue. No mistaking that TG loves the high school and the Levy Center, but those lighted signs don’t do much but pollute. Really, how important is it to learn the time from a sign when almost everyone has a phone or a radio to find that out? And the radio folks will report the temperature – something else that is readily discernible otherwise. The new Robert Crown is massive enough – no need to draw attention to it with lights.

… that it is really, really important to vote in the March 17 primary. On March 15, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson addressed a joint session of Congress urging the legislators to pass bills guaranteeing voting rights for all. Readers know that recent legislation and the Supreme Court decision in Shelby County have dismayingly diluted those rights.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Happy buzzards-return-to-Hinkley [Ohio] Day. Happy swallows-return-to-Capistrano Day, Happy Vernal Equinox.

Welcome, spring.