Evanston’s Service Center, which holds the Public Works, Fleet Management, Parking Management and other city departments, is the heart of city operations. But the buildings in which it is housed, at 2020 Asbury Ave., is in need of major renovation, officials said in a presentation at the Monday, July 25, City Council meeting.

“Continual and intensive use coupled with evolving service needs and limited investment over the facility’s 42-year life has resulted in significant wear and tear on the complex as well as numerous operational challenges,” Senior Project Manager Stefanie Levine said in her presentation. “Additionally, the facility requires investment and strategic planning to adapt to the City’s Climate Action and Resilience Plan (CARP).”

Evanston Service Center facility, behind the Morton Civic Center at 2020 Asbury Ave., is due for modernization, staff says. Credit: Bob Seidenberg

At the meeting, officials laid out options for the 139,566-square-foot site.

The Service Center “really is the heart of everything,” Levine told Council members. “All the streets, sanitation, greenways, forestry, traffic, facility management happen out of this operation. It’s been 42 years and so we wanted to take a look at the facility and really get a sense of where things are going and what we can do to bring it up to modern standards.”

Options for modernization

The options call for modernization of buildings that house the Fleet Services operation, Public Works and Facilities Manager, Parking Systems as well possible expansion or replacement of another building that houses major equipment and also serves as a parking deck for employees.

Option 1 calls for modernization of the Asbury buildings as well as construction of  a new Public Works Storage Building at James Park, which would cost an estimated $44.2 million.

Option 2 also calls  for modernization of the buildings at the 2020 Asbury Ave. site, except the building  that houses the major equipment  and parking bays. It would cost $95.9 million in what Levine warned are very preliminary estimates.

“The primary difference between the two options is the repair or replacement/expansion of Building D,” the building that houses the major equipment and also serves as a parking deck for employees, she said.

City staff is leaning toward Option 1, she said.

Former recycling center in play too

Meanwhile, also under consideration is what to do about the 13,500-square-foot steel-and-brick building that was the city’s Recycling Center, 2222 Oakton St. until 2010.

Over the years, the city-owned center has been eyed for a number of different uses, including a brewery, bowling alley and most recently a climbing gym.

In the meantime, city officials have made heavy use of the building for the last two decades for overflow and heated storage, and it has become “a critical resource to daily operations,” Levine said, who added during her presentation, “losing that storage is a significant concern for staff.

“With potential sale likely at some point in the near future, replacement of this important storage structure needs to be planned in advance to avoid operational impacts,” she said in her memo. “After significant internal discussion and consideration, staff identified an area immediately southwest of the James Park sled hill, which is within an existing maintenance yard, as the preferred location for the replacement storage building.”

During brief discussion, Council member Devon Reid, in whose Eighth Ward James Park is located, asked why the park was the choice for a new storage facility.

“Maybe look throughout the city?” he asked Levine.

Levine said it’s really hard to find a site to serve the same purpose. Also, being hidden behind Mount Trashmore would create less impact, she said.

Before such a move, Reid said he would like to see what the city would receive in property taxes and other revenue if the recycling site were to be sold.

If the city were to hold on to the site and continue to use it as storage, that may be a viable option, he suggested. “I’d love to see that analysis.”

Bob Seidenberg

Bob Seidenberg is an award-winning reporter covering issues in Evanston for more than 30 years. He is a graduate of the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism.

Join the Conversation


The RoundTable will try to post comments within a few hours, but there may be a longer delay at times. Comments containing mean-spirited, libelous or ad hominem attacks will not be posted. Your full name and email is required. We do not post anonymous comments. Your e-mail will not be posted.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. I’m glad to see mention of updating the Service Center and the Oakton Site. The idea to provide both venues with dumpsters during July & August, in place of the annual Saturday “Evanston Recycles,” should be considered. It would be more environmentally acceptable rather than 2 lanes of vehicles creeping for an hour waiting to get into the ETHS parking lot. Storage of equipment could be put off to the sides, and several personnel could assist contributors of electronics, etc., to respective boxes between 9am to 6pm?

  2. Wondering if Council excluded service center or otherwise restricted the use of Fifth ward TIF district revenues on Public buildings. If yes another property tax increasing move by city which further makes the creation of affordable housing more difficult. The under staffing of city buildings is already causing substantial service issues. Look out for more impossible budget choices in part because of the actions of the city council.