Home News Evanston Council Delays Ryan Field Decision for One Week to Review New Documents

Evanston Council Delays Ryan Field Decision for One Week to Review New Documents

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Evanston Council Delays Ryan Field Decision for One Week to Review New Documents

In an unexpected turn of events, the Evanston City Council voted to table its final vote on whether to approve rezoning to permit for live shows at a rebuilt Ryan Field at Northwestern University.

Evanston Mayor Daniel Biss made the announcement at first of the meeting on Monday, Nov. 13, two weeks after the controversial proposal’s first reading was approved with a 5-4 vote during an eight-hour meeting that resulted in the early morning hours of Oct. 31. Biss solid the swing vote.

Biss said the explanation for the delay request was to review updated documents, including the newest memorandum of understanding between the City and Northwestern, that had only been received by the City Council on Monday afternoon.

The Ryan Field measures, which the Village of Wilmette opposes, will now be on the council’s agenda for a special meeting scheduled for Monday, Nov. 20.

Councilperson Jonathan Nieuwsma, who made the motion to table the ultimate vote, said he desired to be sure that all the things was accurate before voting for final approval.

Evanston Mayor Daniel Biss addresses the room throughout the City Council meeting on Nov. 13.

“I just need to be certain that that every one the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed, and there’s no typos,” he said, adding that he desired to take two weeks to look it over as a way of stopping “pain and anxiety in the long term” for the City.

“I believed two weeks ago, we had a fairly good deal,” said Nieuwsma, who supported the live shows within the October vote. “The deal we’ve in front of us tonight is 75 percent higher than that deal.”

Councilperson Clare Kelly, who voted against the live shows, supported tabling the vote.

“I would love to see us have a strategy of publicly designating how we’re negotiating this between now and next week,” she said, with the rest of her statement being drowned out by applause from the audience.

Kelly went on to say that she “feel(s) disenfranchised” by the method, and that she “definitely think(s) that the residents deserve strong representation on the table to get the highest deal possible.”

However the vote to table wasn’t unanimous, with Councilperson Devon Reid, a supporter of the live shows, arguing that a delay could harm the deal that’s been negotiated. He said inflation could find yourself impacting the deal.

“I believe it might be a mistake for us to table this,” Reid said. “I believe it might be a mistake for us to lose this deal.”

In a show of the division among the many Evanston community, a few of Reid’s comments were also drowned out by applause.

Reid and Councilperson Krissie Harris voted against tabling, while all other councilmembers present voted in favor of it.

Councilperson Juan Geracaris was absent from the vote. An NU worker, Geracaris was also absent from the primary vote two weeks prior.

Although the ultimate vote was tabled, about two dozen people spoke on the live shows during public comment, with their comments being a mixture of support and opposition.

Resident Peter Kelly said he believes the live shows will help funding of pensions for the police and fire departments.

“Live shows can function a stable, long-term source of previously unbudgeted revenues that can assist the council fulfill its recent long-term pension funding commitments,” he said.

Fellow resident David DeCarlo, an organizer with the anti-stadium Most Livable City Association, supported the continuance.

“I might please ask you to take the time to pause on this, at the same time as much as is obligatory,” he said.

Almost as soon as NU announced its plans in September 2022 to overhaul Ryan Field and permit live shows on the venue, opposition began to form, particularly in southeastern Wilmette. The opposition included the Wilmette Board of Trustees, which unanimously voted to oppose the project.

Moreover, Evanston’s Land Use Commission voted 7-2 on Oct. 11 to present Northwestern’s rezoning proposal a negative advice.

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