Lonely

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… that street cleaning will not end Nov. 1 as it did a few years ago, but will continue through December, though at less frequent times. Check the signs – and heed them.

… that, as the savage human cost of COVID-19 keeps piling up, infrastructure needs will be put on hold here and elsewhere. Among those projects cut from next year’s budget are the McCulloch Park construction, shoreline emergency services, fuel system replacement at the Service Center, animal shelter revamping, and fiber-optic system upgrades.  The City acknowledges that deferring these projects could pose some safety hazards, not to mention annoyances, so access to some places could be limited.

… that, on the positive side, there could be an increase in street-resurfacing next year, as the City will receive somewhat more than its usual $2 million in motor fuel tax remittances from the State. And repairs to alleys, streets, sewer lines and water mains will continue, as will work on the Central Street bridge project, Beck Park expansion, dog park study, Lovelace Park path, Robert Crown playground, long-term improvements to shoreline parks, and improvements to the Howard Street and Main Street corridors.

… that pay stations are on their way to Central Street to replace the parking meters there, which, according to information from the City, maybe obsolete in the very near future. Not only will the parking meters be obsolete, paying by cash or credit card may soon be a thing of the past. The City has converted some public-parking blocks on the downtown periphery to “mobile pay only” zones. Mobile pay has advantages for the City, because there is a transaction fee each time. There are also advantages for parkers: no more struggling to read the pay station information in glaring sunlight or juggling backpacks, bags and kids in cold or rainy weather – and reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19 through contact. Hmm, maybe it’s worth the 35-cent “convenience fee” after all.

… that, speaking of Central Street, Northwestern football will host Maryland at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday at Ryan Field. Only family members of the players will attend, keeping the crowd at about 700. NU plans to pipe in artificial crowd noise and music to create a “real-game” ambiance. Reportedly the game noise will be at 70 decibels and as high as 90 decibels during key moments. Although for years people complained about the crowds on football game days, the revenue these brought to local businesses – and thus, tax revenues to the City – will surely be missed.

… that the price of gasoline is falling here and across the country. According to information from GasBuddy, the national average price is down 1.8 cents per gallon from a month ago and stands 47.2 cents per gallon lower than a year ago. Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, analyzed a tug-of-war with gas prices: “On one side, the coronavirus situation would be pulling prices down as year-to-date gasoline demand stands some 13% lower than last year, but on the positive side is the possibility of economic stimulus that could boost households ahead of the election if the two parties can manage to agree [written last week]. For now, with little action on either issue, oil markets are seeing a good amount of speculation and seesawing, and that will continue until we have a clear answer on whether Washington will deliver more economic aid to hard hit Americans.”

… that, as the end of the harvest season approaches, the moisture in Illinois soils is declining, according to information from Jennie Atkins, program manager of Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring (WARM) at the Illinois State Water Survey. The largest declines were in northern Illinois, which saw a 32% percent drop from the first of the month. So far this month, soil temperatures have remained steady according to WARM, with temperatures at a depth of four inches under bare soil averaged 59.7 degrees on Oct. 15, a 0.7 degree increase from Oct. 1. Air temperatures were slightly warmer than normal, averaging 4.8 degrees higher than last year and 2.7 degrees higher than the long-term average.

 The Traffic Guy thinks …

… that Halloween, like all the other holidays since March, will probably have its own peculiarly isolated feel. Fortunately, though, decorations do not have to be socially distanced.

… that there are always reports of ghosts at Halloween, even in sunny old Evanston. Most everyone knows about Seaweed Charlie, the ghost of the World War II pilot whose plane crashed in Lake Michigan and whose ghost has been seen climbing out of the lake and heading, maybe, toward Calvary Cemetery. Ghosts at NU? On Ridgeway and on Main? And voices of sailors heard near Lighthouse Beach, the site of more than one shipwreck. Regardless of one’s belief or disbelief in ghosts, TG thinks few would doubt that it’s COVID-19 that’s haunting the world.

… that the holiday lights coming soon to Central Street and other business district are just in time for the Celtic holiday Samhain, which marks the passing of the year into its “dark half.”

Happy Halloween, Feliz día de los Muertos, Merry Samhain