Evanston aldermen pass panhandling amendment, discuss water sale plan

Sophia Bollag, Reporter

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City Council approved an amendment on Monday night to the city code limiting hours for legal panhandling.

The amendment, which passed unanimously, will limit panhandling — the practice of asking for money, loans or gifts in a public place — to the hours between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

In response to concerns of aldermen, city attorney Grant Farrar confirmed seeking signatures for a political campaign is considered campaigning, not panhandling or solicitation.

Earlier in the meeting, Dave Stoneback, the city’s utilities director, presented a study on negotiations to sell water to other municipalities and the infrastructure that would be needed to carry the water to these areas.

The study, which was completed in December, investigated the costs and potential revenue from four proposed transmission routes that would bring water to municipalities generally west of Evanston.

Construction of the routes and expansion of the water treatment facilities would likely be financed by the participating municipalities, Stoneback said. The route and its associated costs and revenues will largely depend on whether or not the Northwest Suburban Municipal Joint Action Water Agency decides to join the other municipalities considering purchasing water from Evanston.

The study also revealed Lincolnwood officials would need to negotiate a separate contract to purchase water from Evanston.

Evanston resident Carl Bova, who said he came to Monday’s meeting primarily to hear about the study, said he was optimistic about the proposal but thinks the city is far from being ready to make a decision.

“I think they’re not done doing their work yet,” the 58-year-old engineer said. “There are a lot of things that have to mesh.”

The city’s assistance in the expansion of the Piven Theatre Workshop generated further concern, particularly from two Noyes Cultural Arts Center tenants who expressed concerns that expansion within the building would disenfranchise groups serving minorities.

Maggie Weiss, chair of the Noyes tenants’ committee, told aldermen during the citizen comment that the committee still had questions about what would happen to tenants displaced by the theater’s expansion.

“I do believe Piven expansion can take place in a positive way,” she said. “But most people on our committee and most tenants in our building are dismayed because we do not have answers.”

Both Weiss and Fay Kaiser, a teacher at Voice Studio, a business located within the Center, said they worried expansion of Piven would exclude businesses serving or run by minorities.

“If the Pivens take over over half the Noyes Cultural Arts Center … there are going to be less diverse groups at the Center,” Kaiser said, “I urge you to remember what the Noyes Center stood for: a collective building that catered to people of different diverse backgrounds.”

The Piven proposal to expand within the Noyes Center by more than doubling its square footage was presented to the council last year. Since the proposal was presented, tenants have expressed concerns about those who would be displaced.