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December 12, 2018

10/31/2018 3:03:00 PM
Economic Development Committee Hears Special Service Area Requests
By Matt Simonette

The City’s Economic Development Committee advanced three items concerning Special Service Areas (SSAs) to City Council at its Oct. 24 meeting; representatives from two of those SSAs presented their annual reports and discussed their 2019 budgets as well.

Main-Dempster Mile SSA Executive Director Katherine Gotsick said that the organization forecasts that they’ll end 2018 with a $39,083 surplus. She reported that this year they mounted new welcome signs; sponsored light-pole banners (slated for installation in November); matched funds for merchants’ sidewalk planters and holiday window decorations; worked on landscaping for the mural at the corner of Dempster Street and Sherman Avenue; and have been preparing for a mural on Chicago Avenue by Detroit-based muralist Louise Chen, which will be ready in May 2019.

Ms. Gotsick said that more neighbors and residents were involved than the previous year and described the muralist selection event, an Earth Day cleanup event and snow removal efforts by Boy Scouts. Main-Dempster mile also launched an online directory and a blog.

Its fundraising efforts included bringing in nearly $1,400 for the Chicago Avenue Mural with its May Sauce Walk event and raising over $10,000 for the mural with its Wine Walk in September. Ms. Gotsick said that Main-Dempster Miles’ 2019 budget will be largely the same, save for a new, proposed chocolate-themed street festival on Main Street, slated for Oct. 2019. “We hope it will be a big fundraiser for us,” Ms. Gotsick said of the chocolate-themed festival, “…That is our attempt to raise our own funds.”

The Committee advanced an item to City Council for Main-Dempster Mile, recommending that their draft budget be accepted and adopt the levy raising $221,000.

Executive Director Annie Coakley similarly described activities in the Downtown Evanston SSA, which is asking for an additional $50,000 from the City in 2019. The organization anticipates about $615,000 in income and $611,500 in expenses, she said.

While the organization’s most notable events surrounded the Fountain Square overhaul, Ms. Oakley noted that its other Downtown Evanston events in included  the wine walk and the sidewalk sale weekend. Ms. Oakley also detailed streetscaping and upcoming holiday plans. Two murals at the intersection of Church and Maple Streets were also installed, and local partners were able to raise the needed funds for them in just a few days. Ms. Coakley also described a number of merchant retention and attraction events.

Among key challenges for the area have been panhandling, parking, retail attraction and retention and better engagement with Northwestern, she added. Regarding the panhandling, Ms. Coakley said she’d been working with the police department and that she would be attending a workshop given by Chicago Coalition for the Homeless to learn best-practices on the issue.

The SSA will be reconstituted in 2019, and has formed an advisory committee and hired a consultant; additional items proposed for the year so far include enhanced landscaping, new holiday decor and snow removal.

The Committee advanced Downtown Evanston’s proposal for a tax levy request of $525,000 for downtown operations and maintenance and $50,000 for additional maintenance contract reimbursements.

The Committee lastly advanced a proposal to spend $24,035 for Central Street businesses to hire Evanston consultancy Teska Associates to implement an SSA there.


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