Evanston RoundTable

Good morning, Evanston.

Evanston officials propose to divide the $43.1 million in COVID recovery funds the City is receiving into five main areas – including economic development, social services, finances and infrastructure – in the first recommendations from three town hall meetings about how best to use this windfall of federal funds.

The staff recommendation is only the first step, though, with City Council Members already weighing in on where they would like to see the money go – no simple task for a local government with a pot of $43.1 million and plenty of community opinions on how to use it.

Stating that their recommendations were based on community feedback, officials proposed allocating $5.5 million to economic development, $3 million to social services and $22 million to City finances and infrastructure.


In case you missed any of the most important news last week, here’s a roundup of the top stories from the RoundTable this past week.

City News

(RoundTable photo)

Speakers press for accountability in handling of female lifeguards’ sexual misconduct charges. In an emotionally fraught public comment session on July 26, speakers at the Evanston City Council meeting expressed strong support for the 56 young women lifeguards and beach staff who signed a petition in July 2020 alleging sexual harassment while working at Evanston’s lakefront. The outpouring was the first widespread response by the Evanston public to a WBEZ report in mid-July that described concerns brought by the young lifeguards and other beach employees to the City last summer.

Community Alliance for Better Government hosting TIF forum. The City of Evanston is considering creating a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district in the 5th Ward in an attempt to preserve the Black population in this historic ward. Engagement between residents and City officials has been limited and has broken down completely at times. The Community Alliance for Better Government will be hosting a forum on the proposed 5th Ward TIF at 7 p.m. on July 29.

Evanston names firm to conduct investigation of lifeguard sexual harassment allegations. The City of Evanston has retained the services of an outside law firm to conduct an independent, thorough and impartial investigation of all matters related to recently reported allegations of misconduct by Evanston lakefront staff, the City reported. Evanston law firm Salvatore, Prescott, Porter & Porter will investigate the allegations and the steps taken by the City in response, and will provide recommendations for the City moving forward.

City to conduct asphalt pavement patching beginning Aug. 2. The City of Evanston will be patching large areas of asphalt pavement on Gross Point Road, Harrison Street, Oakton Street and Sheridan Road beginning the week of Aug. 2. The work is scheduled to be completed the following week, weather permitting, as part of the 2021 Motor Fuel Tax Street Resurfacing Project. 

COVID-19 update on July 29: Six new cases in Evanston, 1,691 in the State. The Illinois Department of Public Health announced on Tuesday that it fully adopted the updated masking recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to protect against COVID-19 and the Delta variant. CDC and IDPH recommend that everyone, including fully vaccinated people, wear a mask in a public indoor setting in areas with “substantial” and “high transmission” of new COVID-19 cases.

Overnight sewer rehabilitation work planned for Dempster Street at Dodge Avenue. The City of Evanston will conduct overnight sewer rehabilitation work on Dempster Street west of Dodge Avenue on July 28 and 29. Work is scheduled to begin each evening at 6 p.m. and conclude by 7 a.m. the following morning. All work is anticipated to be complete by Friday, July 30.

Visitors to Evanston’s lakefront will pay for parking under a pilot program approved by City Council. Pay stations and parking enforcement officers are heading to Evanston’s historically free lakefront with the Evanston City Council’s approval of a pilot parking program charging non-residents for parking. With little debate, Council Members voted 6-3 in support of the staff-recommended program to institute the pilot program near or on lots adjacent to the beach area that runs along most of the City’s eastern edge.

Parking fee might dampen attraction of Evanston beaches for some. Nelo and Maria Nightingale spent July 25, at Evanston’s Clark Street Beach, arriving early on the already warm day and finding one of the free parking spots that bracket the area. Maria Nightingale, who lives in Chicago, did the driving, not an outstanding fact in itself. But after July 26 it might be a significant detail, with Evanston City Council members considering approving a pilot program that would charge non-residents for parking along the lakefront.


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Schools

District 65 to address unfinished learning from previous years with focused tutoring program for over 2,000 students. Evanston/Skokie School District 65 will create Academic Skills Centers at 16 of its schools to provide focused, small-group tutoring sessions 3 to 5 times per week for students to address unfinished learning from previous years. Sessions will address gaps in students’ math or literacy/language arts learning with added support for executive functioning skills.

All ETHS students and staff required to wear masks when school opens. ETHS sent the following communication to students and guardians: With the start of school less than a month away, ETHS is sharing an update about the latest CDC guidance for schools. As of July 27, 2021, the CDC recommends that all teachers, staff and students of K-12 schools wear masks, even if they are vaccinated. 

Arts & Life

(Photo courtesy of KT Miller Photography)

Chicago Ballet Arts finds a new home in Evanston. In early 2020, Chicago Ballet Arts, a non-profit school with a rich 35-year history, was facing immense challenges. With the emerging pandemic and the need to relocate from its longtime Chicago home, the non-profit organization’s future was in doubt. But an opportunity materialized in Evanston when Foster Dance Studios announced it was closing in the summer of 2020. The availability of a made-for-dance facility just north of downtown and just steps from a CTA train station triggered what CBA’s leader calls “a leap of faith.”

This is Corny. This week’s food column is corny… in the best way possible, because it’s corn season, y’all. This is not a drill. Truly my favorite time of the produce year because I am OBSESSED with sweet corn. Happily, the corn bins at the market are starting to fill up with piles of tender corn, and my menus tend to take a turn about now. One amazing thing about corn is that it is super versatile and welcomed in just about every global cuisine. 

Kenneth Wideman; Milton Tooma, Adjutant; Rehova Nemo, Quartermaster; Gerri Sizemore, Auxiliary Pres.; Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors; Charles Spivey, Commander; Larry Daniels; Jim Hughes

VFW Post 7186 honors Second Baptist Church and Valli Produce. Second Baptist Church and Valli Produce were honored by Technical Sergeant William B. Snell VFW Post 7186 for their support of United States Veterans. The Evanston Post is named for Tech. Sgt. William B. Snell, who gave up a promising boxing career to enlist in the Army. He is thought to be the first African American soldier from Evanston killed during World War II.

Mitchell Museum announces reopening. The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian announced plans to reopen to visitors on Saturday, August 14. To celebrate the milestone, the museum will hold a special reopening event for invited guests, including Museum members, supporters, Native American community members and elected officials from 6 to 8 p.m. on Aug. 12.

Three beavers were found dead in the Northwestern lagoon (Photo courtesy of Erika Anderson)

Three dead beavers discovered in Northwestern lagoon. Community members are heartbroken over the deaths of three beavers who had lived in the Northwestern lagoon since 2018 and brought joy to many morning walkers. Because the bodies were too decomposed to perform a necropsy, the cause of death remains unknown, university spokesperson Jon Yates wrote in a memo to the RoundTable. Yates stated that the university will work with the county if the situation should occur again.

I was a jerk in junior high. Dear Gabby, I was a little bit of a jerk in junior high. It was a miserable time, and I said and did things to friends and acquaintances that I now regret. It weighs on me. But I am well into my forties and I have no idea if those people, all of whom I lost touch with (can’t blame them), even remember these incidents – or even remember me! –  let alone still feel bad about it. 

National Night Out in the 2nd Ward. Join the Evanston Police Department for a Starlight Movie in the Park at Penny Park in the 2nd Ward. Soul and Smoke food truck and C&W Ice Cream Parlor will be on-site beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 3 and a showing of “Jumanji: The Next Level” will begin at 7 p.m. Take a public stance against crime by attending “National Night Out.”

When coded beats come alive. This Wednesday, come and learn how to code a beat in Tunepad using the Python programing language. Then have your creation played by a live band. This event was designed to introduce young people to coding or enhance their knowledge in a fun way, as well as to show rising teen composers and producers how their digital creations could exist beyond their laptops and iPads and transformed from digital to organic.

Public Square

Reader: Pushing back on lakefront pushcarts. Dear Editor, the Evanston City Council voted 6-3 on Monday evening to allow food pushcarts on the lakefront. The three lakefront Aldermen opposed the proposal, but do not be deceived by their “no” votes. It was inaction by these three Aldermen, not their votes, that failed to stop the arrival of pushcarts on the lakefront.

Guest Essay: A call for universal masking in Evanston public schools. The Evanston public school year begins again next month, and both District 65 and District 202 are ready to welcome students back to a full schedule of classes, sports and social gatherings in person. This provides joy and relief to the thousands of families and teachers who coped with remote learning for more than one year, with all the educational, emotional and social shortfalls that the unprecedented time brought to our community.

The Lighthouse Keeper sees…that Evanston’s Grosse Pointe Lighthouse has had 16 Light Keepers since 1874 and since 1983 has been managed by Donald J. Terras, Director of the Lighthouse Park District. In 1934, the lighthouse became the first on the Great Lakes to install a photoelectric device that turned the light on and off, leading to the decommissioning of the lighthouse, and giving responsibility for upkeep to the Park District.

Guest Essay: Reconciliation presents an opportunity for Evanston residents to support climate action. The full moon in July had a striking orange glow as it rose in the night sky over Evanston. It was a beautiful sight, but the reason for the unusual color is disturbing. Smoke particles from over 100 wildfires in the West have blown across the country causing the sun to appear red-tinted and the moon to look orange. During the day, the air looked hazy. The smoke from the wildfires is polluting the air as far away as New York. 

Letter to the Editor. In July 2020, 56 young women signed a petition informing senior Evanston staff that they had experienced or witnessed sexual harassment, assault, and rape as employees of Evanston City beaches. Jennifer Lin is director of Human Resources, and the beaches are overseen by Lawrence Hemingway, the Director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services. Lin and Hemingway are supervised by Evanston City Manager Erika Storlie.

Sports

Sebastian Cheeks poses with head football coach Mike Burzawa after making his college choice (Submitted photo)

Evanston linebacker chooses North Carolina. At least 50 schools competed for the player Evanston Athletic Director Chris Livatino described as the most heavily recruited athlete in school history. On Wednesday, the University of North Carolina won the battle for Sebastian Cheeks. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Cheeks made a verbal commitment to play for the Tar Heels and head coach Mack Brown on Wednesday at Beardsley Gymnasium in front of about 30 friends, family members, teammates and coaches.


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