A recent issue of the Evanston Round Table newspaper pointed out that development-rich Evanston is sprouting high-rise buildings, it seems, faster than it can keep up with.

“Right now it appears that all of downtown is up for grabs, as developers look at it,” said James Wolinski, Evanston’s director of “community development,” which includes building, planning, and zoning. He referred to one area as being “under assault … although I probably shouldn’t call it that.”

A plan commissioner, meanwhile, wondered whether some landmarked districts downtown would “stand up much longer.” He then asked, “Are we talking about leaving them untouched?#34;or limiting the redevelopment height?”

In a separate Round Table story, Mayor Lorraine Morton called on Evanstonians to “incorporate new things and contemporary thinking” into the city’s planning. That came in her annual State of the City address titled, “Economic Growth in Evanston.”

Morton called high-rises “structures that will add to our economic future” and said added height and density will help relieve the pressure of rising property taxes.

However, yet another article (in the same issue) announced that the city council approved a 3-percent property tax hike, whittled down from the 7-percent hike the manager originally recommended. The city’s chief administrator, hired last year, was previously an assistant manager of Naperville. In addition to the property tax hike, Evanston also raised recycling collection charges, the cigarette tax, taxi rates for senior citizens, late penalties on some parking fines, tax-exempt property transfer fees, and permit fees for buildings worth more than $1 million.

Evanston City Manager Julia Carroll did not return a phone call seeking a response. However, Morton’s address from last year alludes to some explanations. First, a project doesn’t start making money until a) it hits the tax rolls and b) people living in the condos start living there and shopping there.

Also, Evanston has five TIF districts, the first of which will expire in 2008. “At that time,” Morton says, “we reap the full financial benefit.” Most of the TIFs, however, do not expire until the mid-2010s

People say we’re crazy, too

But mental illness is no laughing matter, which is why the Community Mental Health Board, which operates under the umbrella of Oak Park Township (and frequently under the community’s radar as well), is presenting a special viewing tomorrow night of the documentary, People Say I’m Crazy, which explores an artist’s struggle with schizophrenia. The film won a documentary award at the Chicago International Film Festival.

The event begins at 5 p.m., March 30 in the Oak Park Public Library Veterans Room, and the film will be followed by a discussion with representatives from Community Care Options, Family Service Mental Health Center of Oak Park & River Forest, National Alliance of the Mentally Ill (NAMI)-West Suburban, Parenthesis Parent-Child Center, and Thresholds West Suburbs. Admission is free, but you can call Thresholds, 386-0399, or the Community Mental Health Board, 383-8005, to reserve tickets.

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