City Council creates committee for James Park expansion

Ani Ajith

Subcommittee created for James Park expansion

Aldermen voted Monday to create a subcommittee to explore options to expand the “crown jewel” James Park recreational facilities by using the nearby, recently decommissioned recycling center and adjacent unused land parcels.

The Evanston city council debated extensively over the possible uses for the building, which is located close to Oakton Street and Dodge Avenue, now used partly for storage, before voting 7 to 2 to form a subcommittee that will provide a forum for community input on possible uses for the site.

Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) and Ald. Coleen Burrus (9th) voted against creating the subcommittee, citing worries it would not focus sufficiently on economic development and was biased towards indoor recreation options.

During citizen comment, representatives of the Evanston Baseball & Softball Association submitted a proposal to the council that would convert the now-defunct recycling building into an indoor recreation center. Members of the Playground and Recreation Board expressed their support for the proposal.

Future of animal center discussed

The council also briefly discussed the future of the Evanston Animal Shelter, located west of James Park, as part of a broader debate about greatly expanding adult and youth recreational facilities at the park and turning the area into an “economic engine” for the city.

Gail Lovinger, Community Animal Rescue Effort board member and Evanston Animal Shelter volunteer, said the volunteer organization would acquiesce to shuttering its current facility – originally opened as a pound in 1987 – ­so long as a larger, better property was confirmed and purchased in advance. Lovinger raised the possibility of opening additional revenue streams by contracting with nearby communities to handle their stray animals.

Police officers promoted

The Evanston Police Department promoted two officers at swearing-in ceremonies at the council meeting. City Clerk Rodney Greene and Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl swore in Daniel Russell and Jeffrey Jamraz as a commander and services deputy chief, respectively.

Jamraz has served in the department for more than 20 years and graduated from Northwestern’s School of Police Staff and Command in 2007and the FBI National Academy. SPSC is a division of NU’s prestigious, 75-year-old Center for Public Safety.

Chief of Police Richard Eddington said Jamraz will bring considerable “technological expertise” to the role of support services deputy chief.

Jamraz will be responsible for coordinating existing technologies, integrating new technologies, and ensuring that information systems are “talking to each other” in a user-friendly manner.

Over twenty uniformed, armed law enforcement officers – some from out-of-town – were present for the ceremony.

The mayor’s office announced a joint venture by Interstate Batteries and the Solid Waste Agency to set up used-battery collection points in the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center and Levy Senior Center.

City council will hold a special meeting Monday at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center.

[email protected]