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Evanston RoundTable

Good Sunday morning, Evanston!

Take a spin around the newly installed roller rink at Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center, where a plastic mat, disco lights and lively music transformed the gym on Friday. (Photo by Richard Cahan)

In case you missed any of last week’s news, here’s a roundup of the most-read stories from the RoundTable, with a few new ones thrown in for good measure.

After months of contentious debates, community meetings and uncertainty over Northwestern’s Ryan Field redevelopment plans, contributor Ed Finkel offers a deep dive into the RoundTable’s stadium coverage, looking at where the proposal stands now, who’s for and against it, and where things could go next.

Wondering how teachers unions at District 65 and Evanston Township High School arrived at their school board candidate endorsements? The RoundTable talked with teachers and union representatives to find out who was in the room where it happened and how they made their decisions.

Note to readers: As a nonprofit the RoundTable does not issue endorsements nor publish others’ endorsements. We may, however, report endorsements by a group or public figure as news.

It’s T-minus two days to Election Day. Check out the RoundTable’s election coverage, including a voter guide, here.

Downtown Evanston Executive Director Annie Coakley, a longtime local business development leader, will leave her post at the end of April to join Visit Oak Park. In an exclusive interview with reporter Bob Seidenberg, she said she was excited for her new job but sad to leave the organization she’s led here since 2014.

In a unanimous vote, Evanston City Council on Monday approved another milestone in the city’s reparations program: adding direct cash payments as an option. Cash payments, instead of housing assistance, have long been sought by many potential recipients, but they may have to pay taxes on the funds.

Evanston officials released a draft of consultants’ findings in a much-anticipated report, Evanston Thrives, which lays out an action plan for improving the city’s retail districts. Among the recommendations: Boost collaboration with Northwestern and try relocating the Evanston Farmers’ Market to Fountain Square.

Activists in Oak Park, just west of Chicago, seek reparations, and reporter Gina Castro visited to learn about their vision and how it compares with Evanston’s efforts. The Oak Park task force is pursuing monetary compensation but also wants institutional apologies and more local Black history taught in local schools.

In case you missed it: “This is life changing,” says Kathy Chiwah as she and her son Santi, 11, test a new city beach wheelchair across the sand at Clark Street Beach. It was the first time the wheelchair, one of three purchased by the Parks & Recreation Department after a 2022 RoundTable story, had touched the sand.

Quilt codes: Lecturer Connie Martin recently spoke at the Evanston History Center about how an enslaved ancestor “became an abolitionist assisting freedom seekers.” Quilt patterns and colors relayed vital information to those fleeing enslavement.

A Nichols Middle School student was sent to the emergency room Wednesday after eating a marijuana edible. In an evening email to families, Principal Marcus Wright said the student is “recovering well” and had been given the edible by another student. The substance was confiscated, Wright wrote.

Washington Elementary School Assistant Principal Carlos Mendez came forward at a school board committee meeting last month to deny an allegation of inappropriate behavior lodged against him by a parent. Several Washington staff members spoke in support of Mendez, who is on leave during an investigation.

At a virtual Second Ward meeting, Council Member Krissie Harris said she met with police and ETHS officials about the Dempster-Dodge area, where the Starbucks had reduced its hours citing “safety and security” issues. “We were actually shocked by some of the information that we found and some of the video footage I saw of behavior, which is unacceptable,” Harris said.

The construction behind owner Eric Young may not look like much now, but if all goes well, soon it will be a new whiskey bar, Oskar. The 24-seat bar, built in a space formerly used for small parties at La Principal, will be the latest addition to the summertime dining “Custer Oasis,” writes business columnist Isabelle Reiniger.

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Duncan Agnew

Duncan Agnew covers Evanston public schools, affordable housing, City Hall and more for the RoundTable. He also writes long-form investigations, features and the morning email newsletter three times a...