Council to discuss Robert Crown Center, EPL renovations


Daily file photo by Jeffrey Wang

The current Robert Crown Community Center, 1701 Main St. Aldermen will discuss funding options for the center at Monday’s City Council meeting.

Samantha Handler, Assistant City Editor

Aldermen will discuss funding options and next steps for the Robert Crown Community Center project, as well as updates on the Evanston Public Library’s main branch renovation, at the City Council meeting Monday.

According to city documents, the community center’s renovations have “progressed significantly” over the last few months, and City Council will vote to approve a construction manager on Feb. 26. At the meeting on Monday, staff will present a more developed project funding plan.

The project’s estimated total cost is $48.5 million, including the $1.4 million the city already spent over the last two years on fundraising and architectural and engineering services, according to the documents. In September, staff estimated the renovations to cost between $40 million and $46 million.

Because of the higher estimated costs, city staff will propose a change to the timing of when Evanston and EPL will issue bonds to pay for the project, according to the documents.

As of Friday, the Friends of the Robert Crown Center — which is co-sponsoring the project with EPL and the city — had raised $11.1 million. Evanston will receive money from the Friends of the Robert Crown Center through 2023.

The community center will provide Evanston with new amenities, including the city’s first public turf fields and a library.

“We have a world-class university on one side of town, and kids with no Internet at home on the other,” EPL director Karen Danczak Lyons said in an October news release. “Our new Robert Crown will … create the opportunity for tutoring and mentoring so that all of our children, no matter where they live in Evanston, have an opportunity at reaching their full potential.”

Aldermen will also discuss the renovations for EPL’s main branch proposed by library officials, who seek to modernize the library and create more collaborative spaces. The redesign will create more private workspaces, community meeting spaces and new seating areas. The library also plans to provide more resources, including a DVD vending machine and self-checkout for patrons.

Danczak Lyons told The Daily in October that since it has been awhile since technology renovations were made, a goal of the current project is to foster stronger technological integrations throughout the building.

Danczak Lyons said at a council meeting in October that the renovation will take about 18 months, and that the library will remain open during the construction. At a library board meeting the same month, she said the current plan is the most cost-effective and efficient option because it can be funded through general obligation bonds.

When aldermen approved Evanston’s 2018 operating budget in December, they also approved possible cuts to EPL’s operating budget and a tax levy for the library. Mayor Steve Hagerty said at the December council meeting that aldermen will meet in 2018 to discuss the specifics of the renovation and budget proposal.  

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