Like other Evanston residents who attended the first hearing for Northwestern University’s bid to rezone the Ryan Field area for its for-profit commercial interests, I was completely shocked by the university team’s blatant disregard for community concerns, such as noise, traffic flow and a complete transformation of the neighborhood. It is insane to compare the cramped single-lane streets and small suburban area around Ryan Field to the types of areas that NU project organizers spoke about Wednesday night, such as the McCormick Center, the United Center or Ravinia. Our area has a much smaller footprint and is far more residential.
When I left Brooklyn, New York, and moved to north Evanston, I dreamed of a quieter way of life. I saw how the construction of the Barclays Center, a 19,000-capacity stadium in the once tranquil neighborhood of Fort Greene, Brooklyn, impacted that community. Where there was once rows of small apartment buildings for a diverse group of residents, there are now mall stores, chain restaurants and traffic jams. I can’t even fathom the massive social and environmental impact of the commercial events that Northwestern is planning to sustain its new stadium project.
There may be a few supporters for the new Ryan Field project in Evanston, but judging from the crowds of people Wednesday night packed into the City Council meeting with anti-NU signs, there are far more people who are strongly against it. Why work so hard to go against the community’s interests for their own commercial gain? For a lot of us in the room that night, it seemed like it was simply greed. When one of the NU project speakers mistakenly called our city “Evansville,” it became very clear where their interests lie, and it’s not with the people of Evanston.