Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Civic Center Debate Continues As Election Approaches

By Megan CrepeauThe Daily Northwestern

The Evanston City Council and community activists continue to battle over the fate of the city’s nearly 100-year-old Civic Center.

Aldermen and city officials want to sell the current building at 2100 Ridge Ave. to a developer to build homes and condominiums because of a city assessment that renovating the current building will be too expensive.

But one local group, Friends of the Civic Center, disagrees.

“It’s a historic building,” said Vito Brugliera, a member of the group. “It’s really a great site. There’s plenty of land around it … that all could go.”

The issue has been discussed for about six years without any formal decisions on when or where the city offices might move, said Brugliera, McCormick ’55.

Legal troubles and public relations issues have fueled the debate.

The process may come one step closer to a resolution on April 17, the date of local elections, when voters will decide on two referenda concerning the Civic Center.

One is from the community group, which spent months gathering enough signatures to get a question about the Civic Center on the ballot.

The question reads, “Shall the City of Evanston municipal government rehabilitate and continue to reside in the Civic Center at 2100 Ridge?”

The City Council placed its own question about the building on the ballot, which Friends members say contains flawed information.

Their question includes an estimated renovation cost of $31 million.

Brugliera said the group conducted its own independent cost estimates that make the city’s approximation look “preposterous.”

Ald. Delores Holmes (5th) said the city is still considering its options, and the real cost of renovating the Civic Center could not be accurately guessed.

“You never know exactly what the amount will be,” she said. “I have no idea. I don’t think anybody knows. … We’re trying to look at this very carefully, and I think that’s what the aldermen are trying to do.”

Friends formally asked the City Council to remove the city’s question at the March 12 council meeting.

When the council declined, the organization filed a lawsuit in state court to get the question off the ballot. The court ruled in favor of the City Council, but the group is still adamant that the council’s question is inappropriate, Brugliera said.

In the run-up to the election, both sides are scrambling to make their cases to Evanston voters.

Both the city and Friends of the Civic Center are distributing fliers and pamphlets presenting their respective arguments, and the Friends plan to continue their public relations push by putting up lawn signs, purchasing newspaper ads and writing to local newspapers.

“One of the things that characterizes this town is that citizens aren’t afraid to say their piece,” Brugliera said.

Reach Megan Crepeau at [email protected].

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Civic Center Debate Continues As Election Approaches