Evanston City Council approves Ryan Field renovations

Nora Shelly, Assistant City Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

City Council supported plans for Northwestern to renovate the Ryan Field west parking lot Monday night despite initial objections from the community.

The final plan, which was worked on by Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th), NU officials and Evanston residents who live in the neighborhood adjacent to the lot, increases the number of parking spots, replaces the lot’s lighting and adds additional sidewalks around the lot, among other improvements.

Residents, who said they have long dealt with the negative effects of living next to the stadium, had expressed concern at first with the increase in parking lot lighting, the creation of a permanent walkway from the neighborhood to the lot and the reduction of vegetation between their homes and the lot, Mary Rosinksi, who lives near the stadium, told The Daily. Neighborhood members, though, put together an organized effort to revise the plans in conjunction with NU officials and the council, and many felt pleased with the final product.

“The plan as it is now is perfectly fine,” Rosinski told The Daily. “It is collaborative, everyone gave something … everyone feels like we can be really good neighbors now.”

The revised plans hope to address some of the issues neighbors had by reducing the height and illumination of light poles throughout the lot, as well as increasing the amount of vegetation that will be planted between the alleyway and the parking lot. Additionally, a fence will be installed that will block off the parking lot from the neighborhood.

Some residents raised concerns at Monday’s meeting that the revised plans might still provide for a permanent walkway from Livingston Street to Ashland Avenue and said it would encourage fans to park in the neighborhood as opposed to the designated parking lots near Ryan Field or elsewhere in Evanston. Other residents said the walkway would place an unfair burden on residents of Livingston Street and would increase the amount of light and noise that enters the neighborhood from the lot.

“We’re not a shortcut, we are a neighborhood just like every one of your neighborhoods,” Rosinksi said at the council meeting.

Revelle advocated in favor of a continuous fence along the alley and the exclusion of a pedestrian walkway, which was approved by the council.

A few residents said the walkway would have been a positive addition to their neighborhood because it would allow them to take a shorter path to games.

“From a design perspective, I think the walkway made good sense,” Revelle told The Daily. “But from the impact on the immediate neighborhood … that was the primary decider for me.”

Former 7th Ward Ald. Jane Grover spoke at the meeting in opposition to the continuous fence and said although she understands residents’ concerns, the pedestrian walkway would not lead to problems.

“We’re talking about pedestrians here, we’re not talking about motorcycle gangs, we’re not talking about anything other than people wanting to get to the athletic facility,” she said. “A permanent fence that will block access to the lot … is going in the wrong direction.”

Revelle said the final plan for how long or tall the fence would be will be determined at a later date, likely when many of the landscaping plans are finalized. She added that she was happy with how the revised plan worked out.

“Northwestern was wonderfully responsive to neighbor’s concerns,” Revelle told The Daily. “It’ll be the lowest illuminated parking lot in the country, practically.”

Email: norashelly2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @noracshelly