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Hagerty, Steve

home : community forum : community forum - submit/review comments January 16, 2017


Posted: Friday, December 30, 2016
Community forum entry by: Tracy Ahr

Since she is "perplexed" at the reaction to Trump's win I offer this response to Margarita Matlis' letter to the editor 12/29/16
The reason people in Evanston are, among other things, "grieving" and "shaken" is because Trump campaigned in a fascist manner! And so far as president-elect he is often behaving in that manner as well. He has no moral compass, no ideology, cares for no one who voted for him, is dangerously ignorant of sensitive and very important geo-political relationships and has business conflicts of staggering proportions.
A candidate who disparages minorities, brags about sexual control of women, encourages intolerance and traffics in hate speech and bullying tends to bring out an emotional response from those who disagree with this type of behavior. And in Evanston, I believe, that translates to approximately 80% of the votes. Actually winning the presidency (though not the popular vote by several million) has thrown tens of millions of citizens into shock, disbelief, anger and despair. While, as you say, we may not be North Korea or Cuba (a low bar to clear), Trump gleefully exhibits authoritarian traits and lies whenever it suits his purpose.
Your letter wrongly suggests the mayor and superintendent could only choose from one of these options: offer reassurance to the majority of Evanstonians stunned by the Trump win or focus on school issues. While there is never an issue with 100% agreement, I believe the mayor and superintendent reacted correctly based on Trumps own words and deeds. Asking them to instead celebrate, as you say, "the amazing way we elect our government" is impossible this time. And the blame for that lies heavily on the shoulders of our president-elect.

Posted: Thursday, December 15, 2016
Community forum entry by: ANN RAINEY

SMYLIE BROTHERS SOUTH: The city's decision to offer 2222 Oakton, the long vacant, unique property known as the former recycling center to the general public for a for-profit commercial destination use with dining and entertainment opportunities, is in keeping with our economic development goals.

The Smylie Brothers’ project includes the private redevelopment/reuse of a long-vacant public building, expanding the tax base, and retaining a very successful local business by allowing for their its expansion to a second location and the addition of a significant number of jobs at the site.

We sought projects through a Request for Qualifications. The RFQ that was issued resulted in three projects being submitted. The Smylie brothers proposal was chosen based on qualifications and capacityto perform. This is the link to the RFQ so that you may review the details. 2222 OAKTON ST. REQUEST FOR QUALIFICATIONS

If you read commercial websites, as many do, that give opinions regarding restaurants (Yelp, Open Table, as examples) take a look at Smylie Brothers reviews. Five out of 10 will mention "great for our neighborhood, kid friendly, fun, the whole family can enjoy, great place for dates." If you've ever been to Smylies on Oak, you know it's all true!
This is an extremely well-run operation. And, yes it It is illegal to drink beer in James Park, althoughAlthough for years people have been doing it. Smylie Brothers is not going to be the reason for that happening. Smylies It is family-friendly - if you can't bring your kids to Smylie Brothers, your three-year-olds or your 15-year-olds, then Smylie is not gonna make it. Let's do keep in mind that we don't want anybody drinking who is not 21. We do want people who are out on that patio who are under 21 to have somebody who's 21 with them. Let's all agree that we're OK with that. Let's move on from that one.
Now let's talk about the location.The recycling center is more or less a fortress. The east side of the building is a solid brick wall. Should any small child wander away from her/his mom there's not a chance she/he will see anybody holding a beer. The worst thing that will happen is she the child wanders into the community gardens. But no, that can't happen either because the community gardens are gated. So the recycling center is a solid brick wall on the east and protected in the rear by the gated community gardens.

When the beer garden/patio is built, and we are talking a couple years down the road, it's going to be enclosed. It is true, when there is a patio or a restaurant, children will be allowed to sit at the table with their mom and dad who may or may not be drinking a beer or a glass of wine and eating a slab of ribs or a hamburger.

Speaking of adults, adult sports are very important to the maintenance of James Park and other fields in the city of Evanston by way of the fees teams/leagues pay. I'm not sure there is any more room for anymore adult teams to register if so, I am sure our parks and recreation staff would be happy to sign them up. If Smylie Brothers is an impetus for that to happen, I am certain the city will welcome the teams with open arms if we can fit them in. I'm sure Quad Sports will feel the same way. Isn't that called synergy? Maybe those teams would like to store their equipment at the nearby Cube Smart storage facility and get gas at the Shell station and do some grocery shopping at Gordon Foods. I know the animal shelter is very excited about having Adopt-a-Pet fairs in coordination with Smylie Brothers. This is such a win-win situation.

Let's talk a little bit about traffic. The interesting thing about traffic for a dining establishment such as Smylie Brothers is that it's different than everybody showing up for soccer or baseball game at once. Those things start at a certain time. When you are drinking and or dining, early birds show up at five, some show up at six, some show up at 8, and a bunch of people show up at 9ish. Then like it has been said, many people are just going to come off the field and go right into Smylie Brothers to drink and eat. 9th Warders are going to walk over. I think an any additional traffic problem is exaggerated.

Interestingly, Smylie Brothers had their eye eyes on this property long before we put out an RFQ. We are fortunate to have such a responsible and responsive party interested in securing this site for such an interesting use.The Smylie Brothers organization is a highly respected operator.
But here is a noteworthy comment. The recycling center is zoned I-2 under the Evanston Zoning Ordinance. It is an industrial designation. And………A brewery is a permitted use.

Smylie Brothers restaurant and brewery, operating under the laws of the State of Illinois and the City of Evanston, cannot in any way have any impact on any child attending Dawes School which is one-third of a mile away from the location. In addition, there is not a single home to the west of this property or to the north of this property where a child walking home would be exposed to Smylies. Please understand, I mean no disrespect.

Suggestions were made by the public for other locations for "a drinking establishment." One suggestion was across the street at the Oakton Plaza. Interestingly, the southeastern-most outlot to this shopping center is closer to Oakton School by about 40 yards than the distance from Symlies to Dawes School. We had Culvers all ready to go for an outlot at the Jewel Center at Howard and Hartrey when at the last minute we discovered in final discussions that we were being requested by Culvers to give them several hundred thousand dollars as incentive for Culvers locating there. Vacant outlots also have restrictions and requirements for new construction. It's really interesting to note that when undertaking development/redevelopment you don't just identify a location and plop in your desired use or user. I've been involved in several development projects and I can tell you it's never easy. In the case of Smylie brothers, the planets all aligned and these people are smart and committed. Also, the structure works well with the brewing equipment.

It is really a matter of opinion that a profitable project flies in the face of maximizing the quality of life in the city of Evanston. The Symlie project will have no negative effect on the quality of life of Evanston residents. The case is quite the contrary.

Please see this link on a nice article in the New York Times website on Evanston food scene:
Imagine an expanded Smylie's in south Evanston!

I thank my colleagues for their support for the 8-1 vote on the Smylie Bros City of Evanston Lease.

Ann Rainey
Ald 8th Ward

Posted: Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Community forum entry by: Lewis Walker

Welcomes ‘Climate Change’ Toward Civility
The principles and proposals surrounding climate change have advocates, skeptics, and opponents.
The closing of your Dec. 1 editorial, however, used climate change in a compelling, and what’s more, a fresh, sense (though I stand to be corrected, as my life is not lived on the cutting edge). Bravo.
It seemed to call for changes toward a climate of thorough civility and mutual respect, as goals for every person who lives or works in Evanston.
Evanston elders may recall glimpses of true social equity, and move-ins may cherish memories from towns whose pace and shared values made it the rules.
Embracing such a pace may be the bigger issues – my hunch is that the values either are in place or will be elicited by the impact of examples here.
Those with professional acumen might mount a promotion of this version and vision of “climate change.” In any event, efforts made personally to embody it in this “welcoming city” surely would hasten our becoming Brother King’s “the beloved community.”

Posted: Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Community forum entry by: Mike Roche Former Chute School Teacher

Supports D65/DEC Agreement
In the Dec. 1 edition of the RoundTable, my letter to the editor questioned the negotiations that were ongoing concerning the new contract for District 65 teachers. My comments revolved around the offer that was on the table at the time (as of 11/14/16 when my letter was drafted). I questioned what appeared to be a lack of respect for our critical “front line” education workforce and the impact that would potentially have on our families.
I have since reviewed the proposed contract details that were strongly confirmed and ratified by our teachers (85% positive vote). The respect that I deemed missing in the original proposal was indeed present in the final agreement. Respect for teachers’ time (pre- and post-school activities report card preparation time and content substitute coverage tasks and staff meeting and field trip hours, among others). Respect for teacher safety and improved assurances of an equitable observation an evaluation process were also included in the final agreement.
Compensation issues were another example of compromise with the District Educators’ Council and the Board committees finding common ground in a very difficult economic environment.
As a former teacher and current Evanston resident, I applaud the efforts of our negotiators, especially the leadership of Dr. Goren and Paula Zelinski, in respecting and supporting our important “front line” educators and the families of our community. Thank you.

Posted: Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Community forum entry by: Leo Sherman

No Place for Beer
There are a several reasons why this is not a suitable plan for the James Park Community.
The City’s desire to find a suitable reuse of the former recycling center has focused on maximizing profits and not on maximizing the quality of life in Evanston. The City has rejected proposals for adding an indoor sports facility.
James Park is the premiere sports park for the youth of Evanston. Allowing an adults-only facility to be built in the park will turn the park into a haven for adult team sports. James Park will now be the gathering place for adult sports teams from all over the area. It will be the great place to play ball and have a beer.
With this new brewpub close to the Quad Sports Dome, additional adult sports will be attracted to drinking after the game at this 21 and over brewpub.
The increased traffic will make the already congested Oakton/Dodge corridor even more unbearable.
The City entered into negotiations without a “request for proposals” (RFP) which is the proper way to offer City contracts and property for public bidding. Smylie’s did not have to compete with others for the right to permanently take over City property. In fact the negotiations between the City Manager, Wally Bobkiewicz, and Smylie’s were secret until Smylie’s secured the best deal it could.
Public Hearings on the contract have been exclusive to the City Council. Unless you have had the time to follow every Council meeting, you would not have heard about this proposal. Unless you speak up now – you will be living with this Council decision for at least the next 20 years.
There are many other options to locate a drinking establishment in the area: there are vacant commercial lots in the Howard Street Plaza and in the Oakton Plaza (across from the Recycling Center). Both of those plazas have more than ample parking.
On the Dec. 12 the Council takes a vote that will make this a done deal for decades to come.

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