The Sixth Ward property of 2715 Hurd Ave. is the location of the Second Church of Christ, Scientist and is in a R1 district. At issue is the prospective purchase of this property by Kensington School for the purpose of operating a daycare business for 160+ children.
As put forth to the City of Evanston the proposed plan has a total disregard for the equity and ecology concerns of the City as well as a total disregard for the safety and welfare of the children of the Willard Elementary School Community. The City is being asked to put a private business’ concerns over the lives of children. Specifically:
Little kids are at risk of harm from big cars.
Kensington School CEO Charles Marlas stated that he is unaware of current Evanston daycare and nursery school equity positions and programs and has no plans to implement any equity programs (Planning Commission meeting Mar. 10, 2021). Also, Kensington’s proposal for 2715 Hurd St. includes removal of existing mature trees and jeopardizes the viability of mature trees with a proposed footprint coverage of nearly 70% of the site (which in turn will lead to risks of pooled water). Because Kensington’s proposed building covers so much of the site, in order to drop-off and pick-up children Kensington is asking the City permission to use the alley as a private driveway (50% of which was paid for by the neighborhood residents). Lastly, Kensington School’s proposal is not supported by a viable traffic study.
The flaws include the following:
- City of Evanston data derived from a 2018 traffic study before the City implemented new traffic regulations to Hurd Avenue, Park Place and Central Park Avenue.
- An absence of a study of spill-over traffic on Lincolnwood Drive, Central Park Avenue, and Isabella Street, since the implementation of the new traffic regulations.
- A failure to recognize that Willard School has both before and after school programs.
A new traffic study, post the Covid-19 pandemic when the full capacity of Willard students, staff and teachers are in attendance (most likely in the late fall of 2021) is imperative.
Thinking outside the box, a proposal for 2715 Hurd St. could include:
- Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse deconstructing the existing church and thereby avoiding contributing to landfill waste.
- Evanston Township High School Geometry in Construction program designing and building single-family homes for the cleared site.
- Utilizing the $25,000 per new home buyer from the Restorative Housing Reparations Program for the purchase of a new home on the site.
The 2715 Hurd St. property should be transformed in the same manner as when Evanston’s First Ward replaced the former site of Kendall College with single-family homes.
— Elizabeth Smiley