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April 2, 2020

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Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2019
Guestbook entry by: John Austin

Regarding the Council’s Approval of Northwestern's Commercial Events

One of the most disheartening aspects of the Council’s Nov. 11 deliberations on Northwestern’s zoning-change request was the lack of comity afforded Alderman Eleanor Revelle and the Evanstonians she represents, who will suffer most severely from the commercial activities Northwestern is bent on imposing. Five Aldermen from other wards and neighborhoods ignored both the many Seventh Ward residents’ eloquent and reasoned statements against the change – objections based upon their past experience – as well as Alderman Revelle’s detailed and eloquent dissection of Northwestern’s failure to produce the evidence the ordinance requires for such changes. Alderman Fiske’s desire to immunize Lincoln Avenue’s parking from the inevitable influx epitomized the majority’s carelessness, for she neglected even to attempt to explain away the increased congestion her motion would create elsewhere in the neighborhood.

The impact of Northwestern commercialization on wards beyond the Seventh cannot be compared to the inevitable damage to the immediate neighborhood’s quality of life. In this respect, the “local” in “all politics is local” is the immediate neighborhood that will bear the brunt – not those in wards further away, whose residents themselves might well add to the neighborhood’s congestion and disturbance.
Faced with similarly overwhelming opposition from both residents and businesses, surely at least some of the “Yes”- voting aldermen would adopt Alderman Revelle’s cogent reasoning and vote “No” as she did.

Posted: Monday, November 11, 2019
Guestbook entry by: yvi Russell

Three questions in the August 23, 2019 Chamber of Commerce survey addressed financial benefits to the City of Evanston and Evanston businesses. Council members have touted the Chamber survey results as valid, but the figures presented in the survey were False or unsubstantiated, thus invalidating any survey results, which by the way, were never fully disclosed to the public.
Below see what was touted by the Chamber and why those numbers are incorrect.
Chamber Question 6. Were you aware that NU pays a 12% athletic tax to the City on sales of sporting event tickets and that this tax totaled $1.4 Million in 2018?
Response re. #6 = False statement. The 2018 athletic competition tax revenue to Evanston was $1 million dollars, as it was in 2017 and in 2020. In 2019 it was 1,080,000.
Chamber Question 7. Did you know that visitors to Evanston attending events spend an average of $30 per person at local businesses and restaurants?
Response re. #7. First of all, the Chamber never provided any evidence to substantiate the $30 figure. Moreover, the Chamber survey question specifically states “visitors to Evanston attending events”. The question does NOT say Evanston residents neither does it specify the type of events. Moreover, at the community meetings, the Plan Commission and the Planning and Development Commission (P&D), Northwestern stated they would give first dib to the proposed 13 days of events to Evanston residents. In view of such a repeated statement, visitors to Evanston cannot account as the 75% of $30 revenue generating population that NU lists in their P&D power point.
Chamber Question 9. According to NU officials, these events could potentially generate up to $500, 000 in new tax revenue to Evanston. Does this influence your view?
Response re. # 9. At the August 8 Plan Commission, Northwestern touted under oath for their proposed 6 concerts, $400,000 in tax revenue and projected 1,500 attendees for each of the 7 days of pro-tennis. At the October 28 P&D however, Northwestern power point showed an amount that was even less than $200,000 for all 13 days of events combined. Moreover Northwestern increased the proposed tennis event’s attendance daily numbers from 1,500 to 2,500 thus further inflating their athletic tax revenue. NU again quoted a wrong city tax, this time 2% for food and beverages. Currently, the Home Rules Sales Tax is 1%, and will increase to 1.25% in 2021. Finally, and not least, Northwestern has repeatedly stated that they want to keep two temporary events at the Stadium. However they still show 6 concerts on their latest power point chart. According to the submitted proposal NU would only be able to host a total of 6 temporary events. 2+6 = 8. The power point should have shown a further 1/3rd reduction in amusement tax projection and also a parallel reduction in the projected revenue stream to the businesses.
I remind the Council members who are pushing for the text amendment proposal to become law:
The figures touted by the Chamber of Commerce and fed to the Chamber by Northwestern were FALSE. These figures have misled Evanstonians. Moreover, now that Northwestern has literally captured the vivid imagination of some Evanstonians and many City officials in favor of the proposal, Northwestern has suddenly and significantly scaled down the tax revenue it would generate. Thus, in 2021, Northwestern will not be liable to meet the expectations of a tax income touted to Evanston for 6 months and used to convince Evanston officials to approve the proposal , since Northwestern changed that false revenue figure on October 28th, 2019, a date that likely will be too late to change City Council members opinion two weeks later in 2019, on November 11.

Posted: Sunday, November 10, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Timothy Guimond

Open Letter to Mayor and Council Members,

My name is Tim Guimond, I'm an economist and have lived near U-2 for over 30 years. I testified as an economic expert in 1996 (see the attached paper for more details). I was hoping to testify Oct. 28 at the P&D Committee Hearing but was not given sufficient time to do so: we were only given a couple minutes, far less than Northwestern, and inexplicably were called to speak BEFORE petitioner Northwestern, rather than AFTER. This was hardly fair since we were unable to rebut what they said.
I would welcome the opportunity to speak on Monday, Nov. 11. Obviously, Northwestern has the burden of proof that its proposal doesn't negatively impact the surrounding neighborhood, and the Council has a duty to hold NU to this requirement. There are serious concerns about their proposal that have barely been addressed:
1. There's a vast economic literature on the impacts of commercial & professional events that has been ignored by NU, Chamber of Commerce and the Council. Please read the attached document which summarizes the consensus of economists: this is a loser for Evanston.
2. Most "new" spending during these events simply replaces or substitutes for spending that occurs without these events.
3. Other existing spending is "crowded out" because of added congestion during the events. The Chamber of Commerce doesn't acknowledge this effect but it's clear this is why several business owners testified against the 1996 proposal and against the current one.
4. The negative impact on property values is well documented: in 1996 proponent's own study found a 13% decline in property values near U-2 this will only worsen if you vote for this proposal. There's also evidence of actual home appraisals lowered because of proximity to the stadium area.
5. Northwestern contributes very little to Evanston: they don't pay ticket taxes or entertainment taxes, event attendees do they don't pay property taxes, residents and businesses do. Northwestern listed all the utility and other taxes they pay to the city but this is nonsense: it's simply their cost of doing business, and would be paid anyway by hundreds of homeowners if NU wasn't located in Evanston.
I implore you to read my report and consider whether Northwestern has met its burden and whether their proposal would help or harm this city.
Respectfully Yours,
Timothy Guimond

Posted: Thursday, October 31, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Yvi Russell

In my previous comments to Mr. Creevy I gave the wrong address of the site that would provide information regarding some of the items he listed.
It should have read:

Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Bob Creevy

A Different Take on Pro Events at NU
Having grown up within the shadow of McGaw Hall and Dyche Stadium, I am curious as to why so many people are against Northwestern having “pro” events at Welsh-Ryan. I remember when the Harlem Globe Trotters used to come every year to McGaw Hall. There used to be a circus that came yearly as well. I think professional women’s tennis had events there as well. When I was in high school and college, there were concerts. I saw REM play at Welsh-Ryan.
I don’t know when the zoning changed so that these events were no longer permitted. Why does it matter how much money Northwestern has or does not have? Isn’t there an opportunity for the Evanston community to have interesting and fun events to go to right here? I would like to know what type of events are being proposed. I don’t think I want to see Monster Trucks, but I might want to see the Lumineers or maybe Dead & Co.
Why look at the change in zoning as another way for Northwestern to gouge Evanston when we could look at the change as a way for Evanston to force Northwestern to make its facilities available to Evanston residents on our terms?

Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Clare Kelly

Upset With Cost of New Robert Crown
I cannot cheer that they are not laying off anybody to meet our exorbitant budget demands. Everyone at the City who was involved with and pushed through the Robert Crown taxpayer boondoggle as well as the James Park legal fiasco should be let go.

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