Advocates Say No to Budget Cut Proposals

Opponents of cutting Evanston Wilmette Golf Course and Chandler-Newberger Center spoke out at Monday's City Council meeting.

Evanston residents spoke out in support of the Evanston Wilmette Golf Course and the Chandler-Newberger Center, two prominent city establishments which potentially lie on the 2012 budget cutting board.

“I loved Chandler so much that it greatly influenced our decision to move to Evanston,” said resident Wes Meedle.

Meedle said his work at Chandler as a coach influenced him to pursue a career in mentoring kids.

Jaime Vehovsky, an Evanston mother of three, said Chandler is a place where her children, who attend private school, get to mingle with children from all across the city.

Vehovsky is working alongside a group of committed community members seeking to protect Chandler from getting cut from the budget.  They say that since Chandler is able to pay 93 percent of its operating costs through membership fees, the city wouldn’t save money if it closed the center.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz proposed the cut as a way to trim up budget shortfall. 

A ‘Do Not Close Chandler’ petition letter has been circulating online. Chandler supporters also built a Facebook page and are in the process of creating a website for the cause.

Residents also spoke in support of the Evanston-Wilmette Golf Course.

Bobkiewicz said the the course’s water supply may soon be cut because it has failed to pay its $12,000 water bill.

The golf association that runs the course argued that it more than makes up for that lost bill with the amount of mowing it provides – some $80,000 that the city would otherwise have to pay for.

“$12,000 is such a tiny amount of all the taxes I’ve paid throughout the years,” said resident Christine Froula.

She urged the city council to change the status of the golf course as a park to fix the issue of the unpaid water bill.

Budget discussions will continue at future city council meetings.

Marci June 14, 2011 at 02:29 PM
In the last two weeks the city has sponsored "how do we keep our children safe" type of summit while also proposing to close a community center that provides summer camp opportunities for around 2000 children. Chandler Newberger Center has continued to be a safe and affordable opportunity for play school, sports classes, and summer camps for many families. The staff are knowledgeable and professional. I live on the South end of Evanston, but we travel by train or car to Chandler because I feel the programs are better after experiencing disorganized programs elsewhere. I don't understand why this center is on the chopping block as it doesn't seem to cost taxpayers much (84 cents per resident?). I imagine the bigger plan would be to expand the golf course and use the space that Chandler has. Just a prediction in light of the fact that the Evanston-Wilmette golf course is on the chopping block too. Not sure that cutting a community center for a golf course would benefit the community and keep our children safe. I feel like most of the cuts that have been happening in Evanston impact those of us in the middle class. Yes, I could probably scrape together $600+ for a private summer camp, but I can reasonably afford around $200 for a two week camp at Chandler and provide my child with a great opportunity with caring people. (Thank you Coach Jancy, Coach Malcolm, and Ms. Terri for being one of my child's first teachers!)
Lori Keenan June 14, 2011 at 04:00 PM
If the City can afford to give $40k for facade improvements to private establishments in the name of "economic development" and another $20k to a private developer to market an empty lot to future businesses (when/if? a building is ever built at the corner of Main/Chicago), then I think they can pick up a $12k water bill for a golf course that is, in essence, a city park. I know that's where I'd rather see my tax dollars going -- and I don't even golf. Two of my three kids have taken golf lessons through Chandler there, and "Canal Shores" is one of the reasonably priced courses in the area. Once again, COE needs to listen to its community members about what we value and quit the back room dealings. Is a $12 water bill REALLY at the crux of the matter, or is there something else in the works that we don't know about?
Don D. June 14, 2011 at 08:02 PM
Thank you for your comments. I fully agree.
mij June 14, 2011 at 11:39 PM
ItLori it's over $12,000 dollars and not $12 as you stated. If businesses can't pay there bills then they need to raise the prices of products or close down. City gives to many handouts that why they are operating under a deficit.
Steve June 15, 2011 at 01:31 AM
The city has given at least $60k to private businesses, yet it couldn't afford to keep a library open? Now it wants to cut another community center? The facade on my house needs some work. Where do I apply for the cash? Honestly, I could careless about the golf course. Sell it and use the proceeds to keep the community center and re-open the south branch library.
Tom Fischl June 15, 2011 at 11:10 AM
A few points of clarification- The Golf Course is a non-for-profit entity on land leased from the Water Reclamation District through the city of Evanston and Wilmette. There is nothing that can be sold. Secondly, if you want to add up how much the city of Evanston has given in kickbacks to businesses and developers, it’s in the millions. Our former city attorney has recently accused Evanston of major kick-backs going back years. Evanston’s current fiscal problems go back to the previous administrations corruption. This includes previous Evanston staff members writing themselves lavish salaries, pensions, and benefits on the anticipation of downtown developments being financially lucrative. They weren’t. Lawyers for the city of Evanston have refused to release these figures in spite of FOIA request being submitted by a government watchdog group out of Cicero. This group believes Evanston is near the top of the list in municipal corruption and mismanagement in Illinois. If the city of Evanston were to put “every dime, online, in real time” of what they spend including pensions, taxpayers would have a completely different perspective of how their money is spent. They would also understand that the closing of libraries and community centers is to cover a financial imbalance that should have never occurred in the first place – in my opinion. It would also help if citizens became knowledgeable on issues and actually showed up to vote when it matters.
mij June 15, 2011 at 09:47 PM
Lets see the Council approved a increase in property taxes for 2010 last year. Increased the water and sewer charges 10% effective 1/1/2011. City managers talks about deficit in budget. City Council approves handouts for more the $50,000 this week. Both handsouts are not expenses city should have. Company pays 1.8 million for a property they should be able to handle studies needed out of their pockets. The $40,000 is not cities expense. Shouldn't have forgiven water bill either.
Chris Granner June 28, 2011 at 08:20 PM
A hearty second. "Every dime, online, real time." Love it! Hey, if we actually did that, the corruption might actually disappear before it appeared on line. Lots of crooks would walk away, but we'd get our city back -- pretty good deal if you ask me.
mij June 28, 2011 at 10:33 PM
It's Good the Golfers got there way at the TAXPAYERS EXPENSE. THE EVANSTON WAY


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