What the Heck Does Central Street Neighbors Do?

Many organizations have "mission statements." I far prefer, as a reveal to what a group is about, some idea of what it actually does. To that end, I scanned some notes, and here's a sampling of activity of the Central Street Neighbors Association over the years:

2007:    CSNA and its membership had extensive input into the Central Street Master Plan process, supporting popular sentiment to downzone and to correct obsolete zoning classifications to prevent unanticipated overdevelopment; CSNA urged residents to attend public workshops, and helped organize awareness that led to over 450 residents participating in the planning process

• CSNA hosted a presentation by Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley on how tax increment financing (TIF) districts affect property taxes

2008: CSNA board members were extensively engaged in implementation and zoning related to the Central Street Master Plan and the creation of the oCSC overlay district

• CSNA opposed 24-hour operation of the 7-11 at Ewing and Central, while supporting small business at that location

2009: CSNA conducted resident survey and expressed opposition to City Council over proposed introduction of video poker gambling to Evanston

• CSNA hosted a forum for 6th and 7th ward candidates for alderman as well as for candidates for mayor of Evanston

2010:  CSNA hosted a forum on Evanston’s city budget, the work of the budget blue ribbon commission, and the fiscal problems of the Evanston library system

2011:    CSNA hosted a public forum with city officials on redevelopment plans for 1700-1722 Central Street

• CSNA gave a presentation on the progress and success of the Central Street Master Plan in the wake of the collapse of the real estate market and economy in 2008-09

• CSNA opposed the Library having to pay rent to the City of Evanston, or creation of financial obligation inconsistent with the historic allocations of revenues and expenses between the city and the library.

• with respect to proposed redevelopment of 1700-1722 Central Street, CSNA urged conformance to the Central Street overlay ordinance and that customary and required Plan Commission approval be sought, including in particular close scrutiny of proposed parking and traffic patterns

• CSNA hosted a forum for candidates for the ETHS school board

• CSNA hosted a forum on City of Evanston’s proposed 2012 Budget

2012: CSNA urged that redevelopment of the dormant Citgo gas station property at Gross Point and Crawford be consistent with the Central Street Master Plan, and urged the City to respect the opinions and values of over 140 neighbors of the property

• CSNA hosted a candidate forum for candidates for legislative seats in districts spanning the Central Street Neighborhood

• CSNA hosted a forum on three referenda on the ballot: Dissolution of Evanston Township, Community Choice Electricity Aggregation (CCA), and proposed $48.2 Million School Bond (District 65); the latter was the only forum on the school bond issue held in all of north Evanston

• CSNA distributed copies of judicial candidate evaluations; the wards in which these flyers were distributed had the highest turnout for judicial races in Evanston

2013: CSNA hosted a forum for candidates for the District 202 high school board

• CSNA began a multi year sponsorship of the Evanston Green Ball

2014:   CSNA weighed in on plans to convert part of Ewing Street (in front of the then-White-Hen) to diagonal parking, reducing lanes for traffic

• CSNA held a public educational forum on the Cantral Street Master Plan rationale and components

2015:   CSNA offered the CIty considerable input on redevelopment plans for 1620 Central, held a public forum at the Ecology Center with representatives of the City, and covered the project extensively in articles;  numerous suggestions were adopted in final approvals

• CSNA submitted public comment on the proposed construction by Northwestern University of a lakefront athletics complex on formerly submerged public lands

• CSNA advocated to the City for continued public use and conservation (as recommended in the Evanston Lakefront Master Plan of 2008) of the parkland, beachfront, gardens, Harley Clarke Mansion, and accompanying structures located on the shores of Lake Michigan at Lighthouse Beach and adjacent parks

2016:  CSNA encouraged the City of Evanston to make a decision to partner with and assist Evanston Lakehouse & Gardens in its efforts to preserve and restore the Harley Clarke house and grounds

2017:  CSNA hosted a forum for municipal andidates, and held a voter forum on the District 65 referendum

2018: CSNA hosted a candidate forum for the open State Representative seat for the 17th District

• CSNA voted to support Canal Shores Golf Course and neighbors in an effort to oppose a proposed roadway through the golf course to access private property

2019:  CSNA hosted a presentation by Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi on challenges and reforms in county tax assessment, as well as reassessment of north Evanston

2020: CSNA held a public candidate forum for judicial candidates for the 9th subcircuit of the Circuit Court of Cook County

• CSNA expressed opposition to the City’s truncated and non-transparent process for the City Manager search,and to the search consulting contract given to insiders

• CSNA supported issuance of a live music special event permit for the American Legion Post 42

2021:  CSNA hosted the first live public forum with new Evanston Mayor Daniel Biss

• CSNA leadership monitored and kept members informed about proposed redevelopment of two church properties in northwest Evanston, and plans for conversion to a large day care facility

2022: CSNA submitted input to Council members and the Land Use Commission on a proposed map amendment to re-zone properties surrounding the intersection of Central St., Crawford, and Gross Pointe

• CSNA hosted a live Zoom chat with 6th Ward Ald. Tom Suffredin

2023: CSNA publicly opposed plans for a drastically expanded and commercialized stadium district and event schedule, or zoning change to enable that 

Besides all of the above, CSNA has had entries in every 4th of July parade except those canceled during COVID, has offered multiple free document shredding events on Central Street, supported numerous Central Street shopping district charitable events, and has had over 100,000 visits to a website with many, many items freely posted on a platform remarkably free of the vitriol that plages much of the Internet. These are only a few of the activities that come to mind from my archives and off the top of my head. I know there are many I'm forgetting. Working with the great folks who make CSNA go has been one of the more rewarding activities in my adult life; every neighborhood should be so fortunate to have as dedicated a group of volunteers.