Following a split Land Use Commission decision last week, proposals to rebuild and rezone Northwestern University’s Ryan Field are ticketed for a special Evanston City Council meeting on Monday, Oct. 30.
The City of Evanston announced in a press release Oct. 12 that the items are designated “special orders of business” and will be the only items on the agenda for the special session, which will begin at 5:30 p.m.
Additionally, Evanston Mayor Daniel Biss reportedly will ask the council to suspend its public-comment rules and allow everyone in attendance to get “at least” 90 seconds to speak.
The proposals are up for a first read and if approved Oct. 30 will likely head to a Nov. 13 regular City Council session for adoption.
On Oct. 11, in a third meeting discussing Ryan Field, Evanston’s Land Use Commission unanimously backed the Ryan Field rebuild but voted 7-2 against rezoning to allow for up to six concerts per year at the stadium about two blocks south of Wilmette’s border.
The Wilmette Village Board on Aug. 8 voted to formally oppose concerts at a rebuilt Ryan Field, and Village officials delivered its opposition in writing and in person during City of Evanston proceedings over the past two months.
The original plan for Ryan Field was to build a new “world-class” venue that would host a limited number of concerts in the 35,000-person stadium. NU later announced that number was 10, and in its zoning application to the City of Evanston, it hoped to remove any restriction on the quantity of large-scale events it could hold.
Amid backlash from Wilmette as well as plenty of Evanston residents and groups, a letter from NU President Michael Schill on Aug. 17 announced that the school was amending its zoning application to request six concerts per year. Schill wrote that the university is also no longer asking for text to allow for unlimited 10,000-person events.
Other changes included: the reduction of “community-based” events to 60 per year; and an increase in contributions to the Evanston community, such as a $2 million revenue guarantee to the City and a ticket surcharge that would benefit Evanston Public Schools.
The grassroots organization Most Livable City Association celebrated the Land Use Commission’s decision, releasing this statement following Wednesday’s meeting:
“We’re pleased the Land Use Commission rejected Northwestern’s plan to impose radical change on residential neighborhoods. When questioned last night by commissioners, University officials struggled to articulate why the cash-flush school needs to turn Ryan Field and its other athletic facilities into a commercial entertainment complex. The commissioners wisely recognized this — as well as the costs it would impose on the community — and voted the proposal down.”
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