Residents and aldermen from Evanston’s Eighth and Ninth wards are against the planned elimination and consolidation of the Levy Senior Center’s recreation manager position.
City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz, as part of his proposed budget for fiscal year 2018, is proposing to have one manager who oversees the Levy Senior Center and the Chandler-Newberger Center. He outlined the proposal to about 50 eighth and Ninth ward residents, plus Aldermen Ann Rainey and Cicely Fleming, at a meeting at the Levy Center on Oct. 12.
Each center currently has its own recreation manager. Under this proposal, those two positions would be eliminated and combined into one. The move would save the City $137,624 as part of its effort to make up a $6.1 million budget deficit. Both managers have been informed of the proposal, and each can apply for the new combined position.
“My focus is the delivery of the services,” Mr. Bobkiewicz said. “It’s not a big physical distance between Chandler and Levy. Chandler is the center that has the least needs, and this is the center with the most needs. It makes the most sense in my mind, and the Council will tell me if I’m right or wrong, to approach it this way.”
Ald. Rainey, whose Eighth Ward includes the Levy Center, opposes the combination of the two jobs.
“I’m totally against that,” Ald. Rainey said. “I’m going to fight that until the very end. I can’t see that happening. I’ll do everything I can do prevent that.”
Ald. Rainey says she feels the Levy Center’s many activities require it to have a manager of its own. She said she has heard positive reviews about its current manager, Theresa Tevsh, who took the job in August 2016.
“She’s really created a diversity of the programming,” Ald. Rainey said. “There is a real variety of people here. I’m not just talking about race. I’m talking about diversity of abilities and ages. There are people who are here every day.”
Carleton Pryor, a south Evanston resident, says he frequents the Levy Center for its fitness center, exercise classes and games. He’s noticed Ms. Tevsh’s impact.
“There’d be less camaraderie,” said Mr. Pryor, 77. “Theresa does a good job. I wouldn’t want the services to deteriorate. “She gets along with all types of people. She interacts with everyone. She takes care of every person.”
The new consolidated Levy/Chandler manager position would be open to all applicants.
“These are budget decisions,” Mr. Bobkiewicz said. “We have talented, capable people in all of these positions. This is not about Theresa at the Levy center.”