On Monday night, Evanston Planning and Development Committee discussed the possibility of opening a Domino’s Pizza at 911 Foster Street.
Alderman Judy Fiske (1st Ward) was the sole committee member to vote against suspending the rules to take action on granting the franchisee a permit to use the location – between Maple and Sherman Avenues – for his business.
“I’ve had a number of concerns from residents in my Ward,” Fiske said. “Foster is the direct route to campus, but [pizza delivery drivers] do cut around on Maple and Noyes and Sherman and everywhere else. We really need you to educate your drivers about proper behavior in a residential neighborhood if you would. The most important thing is to just to ask them to be good neighbors.”
The owner said that he recognizes that additional traffic in the area could be an issue, but that his staff will not be permitted to park on Foster, so there will be no unnecessary traffic in front of the store. In regards to potential noise complaints, he said that the fact that the CTA has a rail in the neighborhood guarantees that the area will be noisy whether or not pizza delivery vehicles are present.
“Based on our commitment to the community, our commitment to the brand of Domino’s Pizza, and my experience and commitment to operational excellence, we believe that we can bring [operational excellence] to the City of Evanston and improve the way the city operates and the image of that neighborhood,” he said.
The restaurant would feature a new restaurant concept called a “pizza theater."
“Domino’s Pizza wants to become more transparent, and so we’re trying a Chipotle-style concept,” said the franchise owner. “It’s more vibrant. We’re making the product right in front of you. There’s a little step for kids to watch what we call the ‘dough show,' so it becomes more of a kid-friendly environment.”
The new Domino’s would also contain seating for 17 customers, as well as a party room, though the franchisee expects that most business would be from carryout or delivery orders.
“I recommended that we could suspend the rules so they could get started with the new business in the area,” said Alderman Delores Holmes (5th Ward). “We’re trying to get started as soon as possible to revitalize that area. We have a lot of vacancies over there… and we think that this whole “theater” concept of Domino’s will be an interesting concept, not only to Northwestern students – they’re not the only ones who eat pizza – but that it will be a benefit to the neighborhood as well, so I’m looking for support on that.”
Fiske said that she thinks it is important to give neighbors two more weeks if they have any comments to make to City Council regarding the permit. The ordinance will be brought to City Council at the next meeting.
The next meeting will also continue the discussion of the Evanston Public Library (EPL) budget, which was removed from the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget of the City of Evanston due to controversy over it’s requested amount: $7,842,530.
“I think that EPL is efficient in the use of tax dollars,” said Jim Hughes, Evanston resident. “You’re not only getting a lot of services, you’re getting them done really well… Evanston needs to invest further in its libraries. Evanston needs to look at human development just as we look at economic development. Both are equally important for community development. Both require investment ... In this regard, EPL is more than a stack of books, a card catalog, a circulation desk.”
Hughes said that a significant portion of the increased budget will go towards providing employees with healthcare under the Affordable Care Act, as well as providing necessary maintenance of buildings and facilities.
“We work hard, we work for free, we work transparently, and we work for Evanston,” said EPL President Michael Tannen. “We are a one-stop service-shop for literacy and civic engagement.”
Alderman Donald Wilson (4th Ward) said that he appreciates the honesty of the library budget, and that it is irresponsible to push the issue back to further meetings “to argue about it a little more.”
“I think it’s incredibly irresponsible not to sit down with the Library Board and see if we can work something out,” said Alderman Ann Rainey (8th Ward). I have every intention of wanting to maintain the library, but there are other departments that have had to make cuts. Are we saying that they are any less important?”
Though the EPL budget was held until the next meeting, the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget of the City of Evanston passed unanimously at the amount of $257,268,137, despite controversy over the 10 percent increase in the rate of city waterworks.
“I think a 10 percent increase in anything in this budget is too much to bear,” Rainey said. “We need to begin considering what it is like for people getting that water bill. For some of us up here it has no effect on our life, but it is a huge expense for some of the people in our community. It’s something we really have to think about. It’s real money to real people, and it hurts.”