City Council approves Krissie Harris as new 2nd Ward alderperson, passes half-million dollar cleaning plan

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Photo by Jacob Wendler

The Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center. City Council approved Ald. Krissie Harris (2nd) as the council’s newest member and supported a contract for Streetplus to clean and maintain Evanston’s business districts at Monday’s meeting.

Saul Pink, Reporter

City Council approved a half-million dollar plan to hire a cleaning team for Evanston’s business districts at Monday’s meeting. 

After approving the appointment of Ald. Krissie Harris (2nd), the council unanimously voted in favor of a $508,000 contract with New York-based company Streetplus to create a cleaning and maintenance program for the city’s main business areas for one year. 

However, councilmembers rejected a motion to spend an additional $75,000 on Streetplus’ social outreach service to help people experiencing homelessness in downtown Evanston. Some councilmembers said they didn’t know enough about the company’s outreach approach to approve that part of the plan. 

“I would like to, rather than approving this tonight, take some time to do some homework, do some due diligence and see what options we might have,” Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th), who voted against the proposal, said. 

Councilmembers discussed some of those options, including Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare’s First-response Alternative Crisis Team. 

Trilogy is a Chicago-based mental healthcare organization that provides an alternative to 911 for people experiencing mental health emergencies. Its crisis team launched in January and helps with emergency response in northern Chicago, Evanston and Skokie. 

Since Trilogy specializes specifically in mental health crises, Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) argued that its services are not sufficient to tackle homelessness in downtown Evanston. As a result, she encouraged the council to include funding for Streetplus’ social outreach program.

The amended motion failed 5-3, with Harris among the dissenting votes. 

Downtown Evanston Executive Director Annie Coakley said the approved street cleaning measure will be productive on its own.Streetplus will help with cleaning areas such as Fountain Square, where deteriorating tables are often left covered in food, according to the city’s memo

Coakley said she hopes the new cleaning program will ultimately attract more customers and businesses to downtown Evanston. 

“Customers, visitors and residents return to corridors that are clean, safe and lively,” Coakley said. “Their recurring purchases and activity allow businesses to open, thrive, grow and hire.”

Downtown Evanston currently hires a landscaping company that focuses on trash removal and neighborhood garden maintenance.

Though the city did not hire Streetplus to address homelessness on Monday, councilmembers agreed that addressing the issue downtown is key to the city’s goal of improving its business districts. 

“Personally, I think it should be considerably more money that we want to allocate for this, given the type of need of these vulnerable individuals and the state of our downtown,” Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) said. 

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @saullpink

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