Boocoo Cultural Center, on the northeast corner of Dodge Avenue and Church Street, has steadily become an Evanston institution for dance and music lessons, sound recording, artistic expression and many other creative endeavors. Its location, diagonally across from Evanston Township High School, also makes it a natural oasis for students to drop in.
But, if you’ve seen that intersection lately, you’ve noticed the ongoing street construction and its surprising new look. Where there used to be a bus “cutout” on the southeast corner, there’s now a sidewalk the size of a kids’ soccer field (okay that’s an exaggeration, but not by much). The two single-lanes of traffic, heading east and west, appear not to provide much, if any, room for metered parking spaces in front of (or even across from) Boocoo. So what’s the plan? Are the metered spaces coming back? How will students, performers and guests getting dropped off or unloading equipment gain access to Boocoo without causing a traffic nightmare?
On Friday, August 10, I sent an email to Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz on this matter, copying Alicia Hempfling, Boocoo’s chief administrator. Hempfling then added this message to the email thread:
I am the administrator at the Boocoo Cultural Center at 1823 Church St. and I have some serious concerns about the street construction going on at Church and Dodge. Although several weeks ago I have read the description of the work that was being done, I saw nothing at that time that indicated the narrowing of the street and loss of parking. Apparently, since the sidewalk of the south east corner has been expanded, this narrows the street directly in front of Boocoo, restricting that part of Church to one lane of traffic going each way and NO parking. This almost surely will cause a bottleneck effect on this corner. My greatest concern is that we have parents dropping their children off for music lessons on a daily basis, and we often have large pieces of heavy music equipment that has to be loaded in and out of Boocoo. We are getting more traffic here at Boocoo with expanding programming and this design is most certainly going to be problematic. Additionally, there has been much discussion about building up the businesses and industry in this community, particularly this corner. Taking convenient parking away, especially for loading and unloading will not help our businesses and if fact, can make it more difficult for many of our customers. Thank you for your time and I hope to hear from you soon on this matter.
Shortly thereafter, Marty Lyons, Assistant City Manager/Treasurer, agreed to meet with me on Tuesday, August 13, to explain how the City determines parking spaces; I also plan to ask him about the situation at Church and Dodge, as well as any other parking-related issues readers add in the comments section.
How ironic: last week I wrote about too many parking spaces on Sherman Avenue between Church and Clark; this week's column focuses on how, just down the road, there aren't nearly enough...