Summer 2014 was inundated with bad news throughout the world: the Ebola outbreak, Israel and Gaza at war, the growing power of ISIS/ISIL and unprecedented amounts of child immigrants coming to America, to name a few. Things got so bad that in mid-July, Stephen Colbert got “drunk” on air because “things might actually be as bad as we make them sound on cable news.”
Luckily, the news from Evanston this summer was much more bucolic. The city held an ethnic arts festival, recycled over 50,000 lbs of paper, electronics and clothing at its annual Recycling Fair, and installed more than 2,000 solar and battery powered parking meters. Construction in the city increased, with the value of construction projects at almost $223 million this summer compared to about $47 million last summer.
Here are some of the highlights from summer 2014 in Heavenston:
Report finds blacks over-represented on Evanston police force
While the nation reeled over the events in Ferguson, Mo. after an unarmed black man was shot by a white police officer, a report by the New York Times found that Evanston is one of the few cities in the country where whites are not overrepresented on the police force.
The Times found 61 percent of Evanston police were white compared to 60 percent of residents, according to data from 2007 — the most recent data available. Additionally, black residents in Evanston comprise only 18 percent of the population, but make up 30 percent of the police force.
In the Chicagoland area, the only cities that had less white overrepresentation in the police force were Kenilworth, East Dundee and Palos Park. However, those cities all have more than 85 percent white citizens.
Plan to improve bike-friendliness of Evanston passes preliminary approval
For almost a year, the Evanston City Council has been working to update the citywide bike plan to add more bike lanes, policies and programs to improve the infrastructure of the city for bike riders.
However, many residents complained at city council meetings through early July that the plan would have unintended negative consequences on the community including reduction in parking spots, removal of trees, issues with historical zones and a lack of space for lanes on small streets.
So, at the July 29 council meeting, the aldermen voted to approve the bike plan as a “guidance document,” according to Wally Bobkiewicz, city manager. The plan will have to be reviewed and approved in the future by the council.
The plan in its current stage will introduce bike lanes on significant portions of Sheridan Road, Dodge Avenue, Davis Street, Church Street and Chicago Avenue.
On September 29, the city council meeting will focus specifically on bicycle transporation.
New businesses coming to downtown area
The Keg is being replaced. Bangers & Lace, a popular Wicker Park tavern that specializes in sausages and craft beer, will be opening up a bar this fall in the Keg’s old location at 810 Grove St. According to their website, Bangers & Lace is “a bar/restaurant with the feel of a Midwestern lodge” and serves “32 draft beers from around the world, in addition to an extensive bottle selection.”
Also, your parents can have a new hotel to stay at during Parent’s Weekend and graduation. The Hyatt Place Hotel is scheduled to open on 1515 Chicago Avenue in September 2015, according to a presentation hotel developer Thomas Blunk gave to the city council in April.
Kung Fu Tea also opened a branch right across the street from campus on 726 Clark Street near to Beck’s Bookstore. The store specializes in tapioca tea and will usually remain open until midnight to cater to college students.
City finishes recovering from past winter and starts prepping for the next
The costs of last winter continues to plague the city. The Evanston Public Works department spent the summer resurfacing 18 streets and patching 175 areas that were damaged after the winter, according to the city. For the upcoming winter, city representatives said they would be reaching out in November to off-campus Northwestern students to talk to them about their responsibility to plow sidewalks in front of their houses.