21 Aug 2014
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Why Does The City Need An Indoor Sports Facility?

Because it makes a whole lot of sense.

One of the topics at the September 19th City Council Meeting was the West Oakton Development Committee Report, addressing recommendations about what to do with the vacant, city-owned property formerly known as The Recycling Center at 2310 Oakton Street.

The City Council minutes report the empty building “is a 13,000 square foot steel frame structure that formally operated as the Evanston Recycling Center. The Center closed in 2010 when operations were contracted to a third party.”

The committee’s findings and recommendations can be found, beginning on page 63, in the 9/19/11 City Council Meeting Minutes, concluding with City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz’s recommendation (p. 91) to pursue commercial opportunities for the unoccupied space.

During the meeting, city aldermen voted 6-2 in favor of moving ahead with a proposed indoor sports facility, proposed by Evanston AYSO and EBSA. The groups believe they can coordinate efforts to rebuild and run the facility at zero cost to the City.

As I write this, almost 300 people have "liked" the idea on Facebook, and 1,352 have signed a petition in favor. Well, 1,351 signed it (I accidentally signed it twice).

Here’s the thing. As of two weeks ago, I would have loved nothing more than to have a Trader Joe’s in that spot; I’m confident that a great many other Evanstonians would also like to see that happen. However, the elusive Trader Joe’s has not and, I dare say, will not, come to Evanston for a variety of reasons/rumors (Evanston's considered too tough to deal with…we have too many grocery stores already…we aren’t the “Trader Joe’s demographic”…).

Fine.

Be that way, Trader Joe’s, because you know what? My parents have told me about an amazing place they’ve just discovered called Mariano’s Fresh Market, and, I hate to tell you this Mr. Trader Joe, but my father claims it’s even better than you.

There, I said it.

More importantly, we’ve got so many options for groceries in Evanston right now that it just makes sense to bring something to the vacant space that we a) don’t have and b) desperately need.

If the City of Evanston is serious about its commitment to battling childhood obesity, it will see how vital an indoor sports facility is. Sure, we have Robert Crown, but it’s falling apart right now and the space is limited. Families across Evanston travel out of the city to bring their kids to other indoor facilities for practices. Keep in mind that, when busy parents cart their kids out of town for their sporting activities, it’s very likely they’ll kill time in those towns running quick errands such as, oh, I don’t know…grocery shopping, home repair shopping, pet supply shopping. They might even grab a quick bite to eat.  These are income streams we’re kissing goodbye every time a carpool leaves for the XYZ indoor sports facility in XYZ-ville.  Why not keep that stream (and add to it) by renovating an existing space like the former Recycling Center?

To me, it just makes sense.

And…there's a 4.3 acre lot for sale a few doors down, next to the Animal Shelter.  Might be a perfect spot for Mariano's Fresh Market...

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