When City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. Monday, one of the discussion items will be a contract to build a new building for the Evanston Animal Shelter.
The new shelter was originally expected to cost about $6.3 million, about $1 million of which was to be paid for via the shelter’s fundraising, about $2 million coming from the the Cook County Animal Shelter Grant Program, $2.175 million from general obligation bonds and another $1.5 million from the city’s general fund.
But as bids for the proposed work came in higher than expected, funding became a topic of discussion at Council Member Devon Reid’s Eighth Ward meeting last week. Reid showed support for the project at the virtual meeting Thursday, Feb. 23.
There was good news at the meeting too: Reid said applications are open for the Evanston Gateway property in south Evanston.
Reid called the animal shelter a “gem of the community,” while Executive Director Vicky Pasenko urged the community to support the project.
“It just doesn’t work anymore,” she said of the current site at the northwest corner of James Park, which was originally built as a dog pound in 1973 but came to be a shelter for both dogs and cats. “It’s a struggle to keep the animals safe and to keep the volunteers and staff safe.”
However, residents remain skeptical of the project due to rising costs.
“The proposed cost for Evanston is outrageous,” said resident Renee Lock. The project received 10 bids ranging from over $6.5 million to more than $9 million.
Also discussed was the Mulford Viaduct Art Park project, introduced by Reid in 2022, which seeks to boost economic activity under the CTA and Union Pacific rail lines west of Chicago and east of Custer avenues.
The project is expected to cost $100,000, with Reid suggesting the space could be used for murals and street festivals, making use of the nearby Elks Park. Community members showed support for the site.
“I think this is a great use of resources for our ward,” said resident Karen Courtright.
However, Reid said it’s vital for the city to take a long-term planning approach with respect to the project.