Evanston City Council overturns ruling against Northwestern construction plans

Rachel Janik, Reporter

The Evanston City Council accepted Monday night an appeal by Northwestern that will allow the University to move forward with plans to build a new visitors center on Sheridan Road.

Aldermen voted 6-2 to overturn a decision by the city’s Preservation Commission to deny NU a certificate of appropriateness, which is needed for any construction projects in Evanston. Alds. Judy Fiske (1st) and Melissa Wynne (3rd) voted against the appeal, and Ald. Coleen Burrus (9th) abstained.

Members of the Preservation Commission made several remarks to council before the vote Monday night. The council allotted ten minutes for Ron Nayler, the University’s associate vice president for facilities management, to make the case for NU before Evanston’s aldermen.

Ald. Judy Fiske (1st) expressed concerns about environmental preservation and conflicts within the community over how Sheridan Road’s historical lakefront should look.

“Where we struggle between Evanston as a community and Northwestern as a university is the way we look at land,” Fiske said to Naylor. “We’re outside looking in and you’re inside looking out.”

Wynne moved to table the measure and consider it in two weeks, echoing concerns about the environment. However, Ald. Jane Grover (7th) moved to grant Northwestern’s appeal, with a second by Ald. Don Wilson (4th).

“With a project like this, you’re not going to make everyone happy,” Wilson said. “I think all we can do is strive for the best that can be developed.”

Rachel Janik