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Great Lakes Article:

Council sinks marina proposal
By Bob Seidenberg
Evanston Review (IL)
Published October 28th, 2004

A two-year citizen effort against building a marina in southeast Evanston paid off Monday as City Council members voted to drop further study of the plan.

Aldermen officially endorsed the recommendation of the City Council's Human Services Committee which had recommended against the proposal unanimously.

At both the committee level and at the council, aldermen focused mainly on the financial side of the issue. They questioned the risk the city would be taking in moving forward on the estimated $21 million project - and the uncertainty on the revenue end.

Alderman Edmund B. Moran Jr., 6th Ward, the lone council member to urge the city to proceed, argued that only by moving ahead could the city get answers to the various concerns raised.

"It's not disrespectful to the lake. It allows us another manner in which we could enjoy the lake," said Moran, who also backed efforts to join with Chicago to coordinate lakefront planning.

Others, however, cited the financial risks involved. Alderman Melissa A. Wynne, in whose 3rd Ward the marina would be located, said the project's next phase could cost the city as much as $400,000.

"That, by my estimation, is two park renovations or one large park renovation," she said.

She said the $21 million price tag that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers placed on the project was, in that agency's own term, "speculative."

Moreover, residents also have opposed the project, she said.

Wynne spoke in support of the establishment of a task force that would explore future lakefront development, and make recommendations on future use of the area.

If Chicago proceeds with a Lake Shore Drive expansion, extending the drive to Evanston's southern border, "some of us may be wanting to move to the 6th Ward if that happens," she told Moran.

Members of the group called Citizens for Lakefront Preservation broke into applause and exchanged hugs when council members voted 8-1 against pursuing further study of the issue.

The group had long argued that a marina would cause pollution, create parking and traffic congestion, and hurt that area's quality of life.

"For us it wasn't about the money," said Ramona Meher, president of the group, on Tuesday. "It was about keeping Lake Michigan open and free and clear. And we're delighted with the fact that a task force will be formed ... to look at a long-term plan to keep the lake's access to the public."

Members of Meher's group sponsored a community forum, put out fliers, established a Web site and built coalitions with other citizen groups, including those in Rogers Park also opposed to the plan.

"I think the process needs to be re-evaluated - how to get community input before you spend a $100,000 on something the community clearly doesn't want," Meher said.

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