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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Evanston approves agreement with Wilmette over Ryan Field impacts

Shun Graves/The Daily Northwestern
Evanston approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Village of Wilmette about impacts from the Ryan Field rebuild.

In a rare show of unity during the Ryan Field saga Monday, City Council unanimously approved an agreement with the Village of Wilmette to limit impacts from Northwestern’s controversial stadium rebuild and plan to host concerts there.

The agreement between the two governments arose after Wilmette residents urged the village’s trustees to sue Evanston over what they called a “mortal attack by a neighboring city.” The residents contended concerts would dramatically diminish the village’s quality of life and property values — and some said the new pact still wouldn’t help.

But, with Wilmette poised to approve the agreement Tuesday, the neighboring municipalities seem ready to lay down their arms as the Ryan Field demolition begins.

“I think their concerns will remain,” said Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th), whose ward includes Ryan Field. “But I think they will feel they have some level of protection to try to control the impact of the concerts.”

Announced late last week, the intergovernmental agreement between Evanston and Wilmette includes several key stipulations. Evanston will restrict demolition, construction and concert traffic from traveling into Wilmette — making sure to present all plans that might impact the village to its neighbor before approval.

In addition, Evanston must ensure that three noise detection devices — their locations to be placed at Wilmette’s discretion — measure sound during concerts. During construction, the city must also place devices measuring vibrations on the site’s Wilmette-facing side. If a violation were to arise, the village would receive half of the resulting fines.

The agreement also calls on NU to maintain a phone line for Wilmette residents to voice their concerns. It will also add a non-voting Wilmette representative to Evanston’s Community Advisory Council, which currently includes three Evanston and three NU representatives.

City Council voted 6-0 in favor of the agreement, with three councilmembers absent, after almost no discussion. Ald. Thomas Suffredin (6th) confirmed the pact would not impose a direct cost on Evanston, and Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) successfully amended the traffic restrictions to cover the concert setup and takedown process too.

The Wilmette Village Board is expected to vote on the agreement Tuesday evening. The Chicago Tribune reported this weekend Wilmette’s manager said the board would approve the pact unanimously. However, discontent from residents remains.

In a statement released Monday evening, the Most Livable City Association called on Wilmette residents to attend the Village Board meeting and speak against the agreement. Attorney Steven Harper castigated the agreement as “illusory,” adding that it would not allow the village to enforce the rules.

“It’s difficult to identify which tragedy is more alarming: the substance of the agreement itself or the Board’s apparent belief that it has actually negotiated meaningful protections for residents and the Village,” Harper said in the statement. “The agreement requires little more than Evanston’s production of various documents that it receives from Northwestern.”

Most Livable City’s missive also called on Wilmette residents to push for a lawsuit. The organization has already filed a lawsuit of its own against Evanston, with a preliminary hearing at Cook County Circuit Court set for March 29.

The stadium foes’ latest fulminations emerged just as the Ryan Field demolition finally appears to begin. Late last week, the city granted the project a demolition permit for the four-month, piece-by-piece takedown to proceed.

After Monday’s meeting, Evanston Mayor Daniel Biss lauded the pact in remarks to The Daily. Last year, Biss controversially cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of approving NU’s plan to host concerts at the new Ryan Field.

“Most importantly, I think the agreement indicates our commitment to being the kind of neighbor that we should be, the kind of neighbor that they want, the kind of neighbor we expect them to be,” Biss said. “It’s a partnership. It has been a partnership, and it will continue to be a partnership.”

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‘A mortal attack by a neighboring city’: Wilmette residents urge litigation against Evanston, challenge Ryan Field rebuild

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