City, county vote to support immigration detention facility

EVANSTON — The Evanston city council met on June 6, to discuss many resolutions and pass a second reading. 

Management and Training Corporation (MTC) needs an indication from Uinta County to find a place to put an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility, so the city council resumed discussion on Resolution 17-28. The resolution is a proposal by MTC and its partners to locate a private detention facility to house (ICE) detainees in Uinta County.

At the May 23 meeting, Mayor Kent William described the facility as a 500-bed detention center that could employ 100-150 people with a starting wage of $21 per hour. If it is within half a mile of city limits, the city and county would have joint jurisdiction, but Williams said it would have minimal impact on the city because the facility would have all the necessary functions within.

MTC representatives, who talked to the county earlier in the day (the Uinta County Commissioners voted to support the project during their June 6 meeting), also told the city council that they are willing to educate anyone on the subject. 

At the council meeting on May 23, the MTC facility found support from other quarters as well, including from Evanston Police Chief Jon Kirby. 

Kirby said it could be a good thing for those interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement, as the company will hire those 18 years and older who have a high school diploma or GED. Kirby said the company will train employees, and the impact on local law enforcement will be very low.

“Their team are first responders, and then it goes to the feds,” said Kirby. “The impact on local law enforcement is minimal.”

Kirby said they asked about people escaping from other facilities and the company said they have had zero escapes.

Williams also said on May 23 that the facility would look much like a community college building with a fence around it and would sit on 60 acres of land. He said it could potentially generate $1 million for the city annually in supplies and other things needed to keep the facility running. There also aren’t many concerns about the ICE facility motivating an influx of questionable move-ins.

“These facilities have a 30- to 60-day turnaround,” said Kirby. “Plus, people dealing with immigration issues probably have other family member who would be in the same boat. They aren’t going to come around if they do.”

At the June 6 meeting, councilmembers had positive things to say about the topic, and no one opposed. 

“It’s a win-win for our community, I see nothing but promise. I see this being a better facility — I’m in support of it,” said councilwoman Wendy Schuler. 

“It’s a positive; we have to look outside the box,” said councilman Tim Lynch.

Schuler motioned and Evan Perkes seconded Resolution 17-28 to support MTC’s initial proposal to locate in Uinta County. 

The meeting dealt with several other major topics. 

Resolutions 17-31 and 17-32 requested that the city approve change orders No. 3 and No. 4 concerning the Evanston Railyards Roundhouse Windows and Masonry project. 

Change Order No. 3 was a request to spend $1,125 on roof drain plumbing changes on the Roundhouse. The plan is to install some cast iron piping and fittings for roof drains to join them together underneath the roof. 

Change Order No. 4 was a request to approve more work on Bay 12 and Bay 24 of the project. The initial bid for the bulk heads did not include Bay 12 and Bay 24 because they are structurally sound, but because of various aesthetic issues (including that the brick color of Bay 24 doesn’t match the rest of the building), the change order asks to fix the issues now so it doesn’t cost more later to fix them. This change order will cost $11,508. 

With both change orders, there will still be approximately $76,000 in the budget for the Evanston Railyards Roundhouse Windows and Masonry project. 

“If we’re going to spend the money, let’s do it right the first time,” said councilman Andy Kopp. 

The council approved both change orders.

The beekeeping ordinance, Ordinance 17-03, had its second reading. Discussion briefly began on beekeeping within city limits and what that would mean for mosquito spraying. It was decided that spraying could continue as usual, as it would not harm bees, and the ordinance would not affect mosquito spraying. 

The council’s recent discussion on May 23 also encompassed a possible cap on the number of hives within non-agricultural areas. Since Evanston is only 10 square miles and the state allows only 10 hives within a three-mile radius (28.27 square miles), Bergen said there really isn’t a need to cap the number of hives because the state wouldn’t allow very many anyway. 

Williams was concerned that the state doesn’t monitor small beekeeping operations as strictly as commercial ones. Bergen responded that there are only about nine beekeepers in Evanston from the last count, and one couple will not register again because they lost their hives during the winter.

The council passed Ordinance 17-03 on June 6, and it is subject to a third reading before being enacted. 

Evanston Parks and Recreation asked to close the Hamblin Park main access road and parking lot on Wednesday, June 21, for the Safe Kids Fair, and on Tuesday, July 4, for the annual Independence Day Fresh Air, Freedom and Fun Festival. 

Several resolutions passed at the June 6 meeting. The council voted to award the bid for the 2017 Union Center Fiber Conduit Project to the apparent low bidder. 

Schuler made the motion to approve the project and David Welling seconded it. 

Resolution 17-27 resolved that the governing body of Evanston will authorize the execution of the First Amendment of the lease with the Evanston Boat Club, which currently has 18 members. 

Kopp motioned to pass Resolution 17-29, which means that the city authorized the execution of an agreement with Hach Company to provide the annual calibration services needed for the water treatment plant. Lynch seconded the motion.

Police Lt. Ken Pearson talked to the council on behalf of Resolution 17-30, asking to apply for a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs and Bureau of Justice Statistics to assist in implementing the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). 

He said if the Evanston Police Department doesn’t apply for the grant, they and the county will have to come up with $165,000. 

The resolution is to simply apply for the $165,000 grant, which includes four hours of in-house training. Lynch motioned to approve the resolution, and Mike Sellers seconded. 

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