Evanston aldermen take capital improvement tour

Patrick Svitek, City Editor

Evanston aldermen Saturday morning toured several sites throughout the city targeted for capital improvement.

The three-hour tour was scheduled to visit 10 locations the city is eying for various renovations. City Council, including Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, rode to the sites in a school bus with city staff.

The city’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2014, which was released earlier this month, calls for more than $39.8 million in capital improvements.

The city-owned Harley Clarke Mansion, 2603 Sheridan Road, was on the itinerary, marked as requiring more than $400,000 in maintenance costs. Since the council turned down a controversial bid for the lakefront property this summer, aldermen have been weighing what role the city should play in bringing the historic building up to code and supporting its current tenant, the Evanston Art Center.

The aldermen also swung by the Evanston Ecology Center, 2024 N. McCormick Blvd. The city says the ecology center’s greenhouse needs to be replaced due to safety concerns. Additionally, the greenhouse does not meet code requirements meant to accommodate disabled people.

Other locations were picked for the tour due to the wear and tear they have experienced over the years. For example, the Chandler-Newberger Center, 1028 Central St., requires new flooring for its gym and racquetball court every 10 years, a $50,000 project, according to the city.

City manager Wally Bobkiewicz announced the tour during the council’s Oct. 14 meeting, saying the bus could fit about 30 residents in addition to the aldermen, mayor and city staff. The ride started and ended at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave.

— Patrick Svitek