A hypothetical lakefront protection ordinance prepared by moderator Cameron Davis provided the framework for a Democratic Party of Evanston panel discussion Wednesday night.
But it became apparent during the session that Evanston already has a zoning ordinance that tightly restricts development along the lake buttressed by a citywide master plan and a lakefront master plan.
Even a supporter of the concept of a new ordinance, local attorney Jeff Smith, said the ordinance would be redundant.
And, as Smith noted, anything the City Council adopts, it can amend or repeal.
Although Davis tried to steer discussion away from the recent dispute over the proposed sale of the lakefront Harley Clarke mansion, his hypothetical ordinance would ask a majority of the City Council to pledge to never sell any lakefront land.
What wasn’t mentioned is that the Parks and Recreation Board tried two years ago to persuade aldermen to put themselves in a similar straightjacket regarding all park land in the city.
After months of debate, that proposal never even got out of the council’s Human Services Committee.
It wasn’t that committee members were eager to sell off parks. They weren’t. And, as yet, they haven’t sold any. But given the city’s severe debt problems, they sensibly weren’t prepared to take a pledge they might not be able to live up to.
So, the debate over how best to use all of Evanston’s public resources — not just the lakefront — can be expected to continue.
Top: Waves buffet the breakwater at the Church Street boat ramp on the Evanston lakefront during a storm.