Neighbors group: Public use only at Harley Clarke

An aerial view of the Harley Clarke site.

The following resolution was adopted by the Board of Directors of the Central Street Neighbors Association on April 1.

The Central Street Neighbors Association believes that the parkland, beachfront, gardens, the Harley Clarke Mansion, and accompanying structures located on the shores of Lake Michigan at Lighthouse Beach and adjacent parks are priceless and irreplaceable public assets.

CSNA supports and urges their continued public use and conservation as recommended in the Evanston Lakefront Master Plan of 2008.

Consistent with such use and conservation, CSNA further resolves and declares the following:

  • We firmly advocate that the public parkland, structures and beachfront referenced above remain in the public domain in perpetuity to provide for recreational, cultural, historic, artistic, educational, and similar public-oriented, public-spirited uses that provide services and directly benefit the community as a whole and that will serve generations to come;
  • We enthusiastically support the current “open space” zoning on the site; our green space is a treasure that belongs to all the people of Evanston.
  • We strongly prefer and urge a use that will preserve and rehabilitate the mansion and its historic features in keeping with Evanston’s proud tradition of celebrating the history of the city and its unique location on Lake Michigan;
  • We support uses that would attract visitors to Evanston and/or that would contribute to public awareness and understanding of the community and/or its ecology and history including, but not limited to, Lake Michigan;
  • We urge a use that maintains and enhances public space within the mansion for public meetings, events, lectures, classes, and/or or artistic or cultural activities, at free or nominal cost; such usage may increase the attractiveness of the site for the benefit of the public and possibly generate public revenue, with appropriate public oversight and management;
  • We encourage that the City further explore a possible partnership with one or more public agencies or with a non-profit organization whose mission is to support and serve the public and provide for activities that are consistent with the location of the site and that meet the needs of the community. Any such agreement must safeguard perpetual public use and maintenance of the open space through covenants, conservation easements, or similar restrictions, and provide for the return or reversion of any property alienated to the people of Evanston in the event of future disuse by such entity or entities; such agreements should synergistically leverage public assets on and adjacent to the site, including without limitation the beach, mansion, coach house, lighthouse, fog houses, and park. Examples exist of such partnerships and they could be a model for this site.
  • We support the call of the City’s Comprehensive Plan for more parkland and open space in Evanston and we urge, for the Harley Clarke site, uses that do not significantly increase traffic, noise, night light, or otherwise negatively impact the surrounding natural and human environment;
  • We oppose any commercial or private development of any public properties, and oppose the sale or lease of public property for any use that would not be for dedicated public access and use. We urge that any consideration of privatization of the site for commercial or residential purposes be rejected and call on the City to expend no time or resources considering any such sale, lease, or alienation of any structure, public parkland, or beachfront property that would not remain in the public domain. We oppose any agreement or arrangement with private interests that would deprive or substantially limit public access or limit in any way the primarily public use and enjoyment of the property;
  • We reiterate our call for a transparent public process with full public participation and discussion on all proposals to transfer, change, or limit ownership or use of any public property in Evanston. Consistent with this principle, we call for the City to release all documents relating to proposals made to or received from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in 2013-2015.

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