City council approves contract extension for security services at Civic Center, in parking garages


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Ald. Tom Suffredin (6th). Suffredin was the only city council member to oppose the security contract extension, citing concerns about a lack of support for individuals experiencing homelessness.

Julia Richardson, Assistant City Editor

City Council authorized City Manager Erika Storlie to execute a two-year security contract extension with Phoenix Security that would guarantee security at city-owned parking garages during Monday’s virtual meeting.

Council first approved of a professional services agreement with Phoenix Security in December 2019, which granted the company to provide security services at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center. The Civic Center closed in March 2020 due to COVID-19, but upon its reopening for essential employees, security returned to assist with check-in and COVID-19 symptom questioning.

Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd) expressed support for the contract extension.

“I think our residents should know that… although (the Civic Center) is closed to the public, there are still staff that access the building,” Braithwaite said. “We have to sign in, we have our temperatures checked, and I think especially when we don’t have normal full staff and residents moving, I think it’s especially important that we have security.”

Evanston previously authorized security at parking garages with SP+ Parking Management Services, but renegotiated the agreement in April 2020 due to a loss of revenue. In Fall 2020, city staff decided to resume security services at parking garages through Phoenix Security.

Suffredin said the city should have a “more unified and cohesive plan” than adding security to respond to people experiencing homelessness staying in parking garages overnight. He also acknowledged that a task force working to assist people experiencing homelessness in Evanston is in place.

“Obviously, it’s not an ideal circumstance, and I understand the liability concerns, but also homeless people do not want to be in the parking garages overnight,” Suffredin said. “I’d just like to see greater coordination with the task force and trying to figure out solutions beyond just ejecting them from the park.”

Ald. Donald Wilson (4th) said he supports the contract extension, but also echoed Suffredin’s sentiment.

Ald. Judy Fiske (1st) confirmed the creation of a task force Suffredin referenced.

“We’ve been working on this for months, and with lots of meetings and talking to everyone involved,” Fiske said. “This is a team effort, and I think this is the right way to move ahead.”

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