Evanston City Council Roundup: Nov. 11


Annabel Edwards/Daily Senior Staffer

Mahjabeen Hakeem speaks Monday night during City Council. Hakeem’s sons were shot and killed this summer in their tobacco shop in downtown Evanston.

Sophia Bollag and Patrick Svitek

Vote on deadline extension for Church Street apartment building delayed

City Council decided Monday night to delay a vote on extending the permit process for an apartment complex in downtown Evanston.

Of the 15 residents who signed up to speak about the issue at the Planning and Development Committee meeting, all but one chose to hold their comments for the panel’s next meeting, Nov. 25.

A proposal calls for a three-year extension for the complex developers to obtain a permit for a 35-story building at 708 Church St., which would push the deadline to the end of 2016. Aldermen initially approved the project in 2009.

Only one resident, Arthur Altman, spoke about the issue, saying the proposed development would drive other businesses in the area to shut down and make the character of the neighborhood less appealing to students.

“When a student comes to go to Northwestern, they’re not interested in living in a Manhattan type of town,” Altman said. “They want a nice college town.”

The applicant for the permit also decided to wait until Nov. 25 to speak.

— Sophia Bollag

Mother criticizes Evanston police for investigation into sons’ deaths

The mother of two Evanston brothers shot to death this summer spoke out at Monday night’s City Council meeting, criticizing police’s investigation into the deaths.

Mahjabeen Hakeem, whose sons were killed in July in the tobacco shop they owned, said police have not kept her informed on the case.

“And now I don’t know to whom we trust,” she said. “How can we get help from the police when they don’t serve the community?”

The Evanston Police Department has defended the lack of public information surrounding the investigation, saying it could jeopardize any potential charges. After Hakeem’s remarks Monday night, Evanston Police Cmdr. Jay Parrott said detectives met with her family as recently as last week.

The two brothers were found dead in the basement of Evanston Pipe & Tobacco, 923 Davis St., with multiple gunshot wounds the evening of July 30. In October, the Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled the brothers’ deaths homicides.

The shop has since been put up for sale.

Two other residents, Carolyn Murray and the grandmother of slain Evanston 20-year-old Blake Ross, also criticized EPD’s handling of two other homicide cases.

— Sophia Bollag

Evanston City Council approves closer look at new Harley Mansion proposal

Evanston aldermen Monday night approved further review of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ plan for the Harley Clarke Mansion.

Under the agreement, city manager Wally Bobkiewicz will look more closely at the department’s proposal to bring its Coastal Management program to the lakefront building, 2603 Sheridan Road. The Evanston Art Center, which rents the mansion from the city for $1 a year, has said it wants to stay at the property.

However, Ald. Jane Grover (7th) suggested otherwise during a meeting with her constituents Thursday night. She said the art center is reconsidering whether it would like to remain in the mansion due to the “extraordinary cost for renovation.” The property requires at least hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs, according to city officials.

On Nov. 4, the city’s Human Services Committee gave its permission to Bobkiewicz to talk more with department officials, who he described as “anxious and excited” after their first visit to the building.

City Council unanimously approved the plan Monday night with no discussion.

The issue is expected to come up again at the committee’s next meeting, Dec. 2.

— Patrick Svitek