Recap: City Council

The Harley Clarke mansion.

Here's a recap of our live coverage of tonight's Evanston City Council meeting where aldermen are scheduled to discuss next steps for determining a new use for the Harley Clarke mansion.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 8:05 p.m.

A packet with information on tonight's agenda items is available online.

Meeting called to order at 8:11 p.m.

City Clerk Devon Reid announces early voting starts March 18 for school boards and Ridgeville Park District.

Mayor Steve Hagerty notes homicide Friday evening in 5th Ward.

... announces Women in Public Office Day, March 19.

... and colorectal cancer awareness month.

Hagerty offers some thoughts on Harley Clarke mansion ...

Says no one is going to invest in the mansion unless they own the building or have a long-term lease

No commercial use means no restricted revenue possibilities.

Suggests shouldn't strictly interpret the referendum. Don't assume that every resident was agreeing with every condition in the referendum.

Suggests issuing a new RFP with a due date of 18 months from the release of the RFP.

Says lighthouse beach should remain completely public permanently.

Says should have community panels, business and city panels review the proposals.

Suggests if can't get NFP use from the first RFP should do a second RFP process for private development proposals, with a 12 month timeline.

Or, could do nothing. Or could rezone to single family and sell te home (not the beach). Or could pick a proposal now. Or could lobby the state to buy the site for a public park.

Public Comment

30 speakers signed up. So each person gets 90 seconds.

Mary Rosinski says majority of voters wanted to have a space where "we could come together as a community."

Don't consider selling our land away.

Neil Gambow speaks in favor of the Youth Job Center grant.

Jen Shader thanks the mayor for his suggestions for process in moving forward with Harley Clarke.

(Mayor says actually there are only about 18 speakers, so speakers can have two minutes.)

Dan Coyne, who's running for re-election to the Ridgeville Park District encourages vote turnout and mentions upcoming voter forums.

Karen Demerest from YJC says their new city-grant-funded employee will work to place grads into new career opportunities.

Bennett Johnson says 18 months is too long for RFP process.

Public comment ends at 9:16 p.m.

SP 1 - Harley Clarke mansion

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, says meetings so far have come up with frameworks for what the property should be.

He suggestes 18 months RFP is too long.

Says Revelle committee came up with some use parameters -- says have to broaden the a bit.

Need to have city ownership of the property. Should consider ideas for coach house and main house separately or together.

Should not require applicants to be 501(c)3s. Says that status is an impedement to some groups that could come up with good uses.

Need more time for people to access the property.

Suggests six month RFP period.

Suggests staff and commnity membes should evaluate the proposals received, before they are presented to the Council for a vote.

Says the situation is very frustrating for every person in the room. But there's a lot of vision. If can turn it into action ...

Hagerty defends the 18 month process. Wilson says that will lose interest in some good ideas.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, says a lot of time has been spent on visioning. But mistakes made -- city didn't come up with solid numbers of what it would cost to repair and rehab the building. Says have to set standards. Council said no public money. Says a lot of the mayor's plans are probably going to require public money.

Have to define what the budget is.

In response to question from Fiske city manager says city has about seven recreation centers (depending on how you count).

Says there are also capital needs for five fire stations, the police station and Civic Center.

Fiske says can't turn over control of the property until have funds in place to fix it.

Says she doesn't see any examples of proposed uses for the building that would actually pay for the cost.

Says could turn coach house into affordable housing -- but where's the money going to come from for that.

Says she's not willing to put any public money into the house.

Hagerty says he agrees --doesn't want to see a dollar of taxpayer money go into the mansion.

Says thinks most financially viable solution is a private, commercial solution. But recognizes that a lot of people don't want to see that.

Says doesn't think should send city staff to estimate the cost of rehab. 

Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, says still doesn't know what maintenance costs are now.

Says thinks 18 months is too long ... will end up being 24 months ... then will have an election will end up with some new people on the Council.

Alderman Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward, says 9 months would put us at December ...says can make a person in 9 months.

Suggests should invite all offers in one wave of RFPs. Says one of the mistakes repeated is that have only looked at one option at a time.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, says first have to prepare and RFP and everybody has a different idea of what should be in it.

Maybe should do as Suffredin said and make it very broad, she says, or maybe can narrow the parameters somewhat

Says 18 months is too long. Six months is too short.

We all have agreed that we're not spending any more city money on this, she says. Have heard from the public that there is the money to repair the mansion and to also provide some access to the public.

Wilson says have been too limiting in the proposals considered before.

Revelle says it needs to be some kind of community use -- whether non-profit or for profit.

Suggests nine to 12 months RFP period. Says could go for separate ideas for house and coach house.

Fiske says RFP should not be limited to any particular use. Asks manager what other interest there's been recently.

Says have heard from at least a dozen private buyer proposals over the last few years.

Assistant City Manager Erika Storlie says she's gotten a lot of proposals for purchase as single family home. Also as senior living or assisted living center.

Also proposals for filming at the site.

Niffeneger proposal, Bobkiewicz says, has discussed some sort of writers' retreat concept.

Fiske says should get an updated appraisal for the property. What the permitted and special uses are with current open space zoning. Says could rezone to R1 ... but rezoning to commercial use might be considered spot zoning.

Says should even consider selling as a single family home.

Says a lot of people told her they just like to see the house as the drive down Sheridan Road -- so perhaps a single family home solution would make sense.

Hagerty says -- are there enough votes for a sale to single family use if it comes up. Same for a commercial option.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, says agrees it should be an open RFP. Says property must be sold. HAs to be financial capacity to purchase and rehab immediately.

Says have to sort out what's community use or public access. Any commerial use would likely have some public access.

Wilson says if it's a single family home its not going to be comfortable to have people walking and riding by.

Proposes requiring continued city ownership. (But could consider long-term lease of propoerty with sale of the building.)

Could be NFP or for profit. Could accept proposals for coach house and main house separately.

Fiske objects to putting limits on the RFP. Agrees with Rainey that whoever's coming in has the resources to run the building in a financially responsible way.

Wilson's motion approved 5-4. Aldermen Fiske, Peter Braithwaite, Robin Rue Simmons and Rainey voted no.

City staff to return with a draft RFP on April 15.

Consent agenda

Off consent ... 

A  3 - Amazon credit card activity

A 6 - Contract with Cleanslate Chicago for mowing services

A 11 - Service provider agreement wity YWCA Evanston/North Shore

A 20 - Grant agreement with Youth Job Center

A 22 - Trees and shrubs

O 2 - Music studio lease at Gibbs-Morrison.

Consent agenda approved

A  3 - Amazon credit card activity

Approved. Suffredin abstains

A 6 - Contract with Cleanslate Chicago for mowing services

Braithwaite wants to figure out barriers to local businesses bidding on these

Storlie says Cleanslate has been hiring ex-offenders.


A 11 - Service provider agreement wity YWCA Evanston/North Shore

Rainey says she's very concerned that it won't supplement current city victim services program but replace it.

Fleming says she's voting against it.

Braithwaite praises the proposal and says he'll vote for it

Approved 7-2. Fiske and Fleming vote no.

A 20 - Grant agreement with Youth Job Center

Approved 5-4. Suffredin, Fleming, Fiske, and Rue Simmons vote no.

A 22 - Trees and shrubs

Fleming amends to add bike lanes.

Approved 9-0.

O 2 - Music studio lease at Gibbs-Morrison.

Approved 8-0. Rue Simmons abstains.

Call of the Wards

Braithwatie ... ward meeting 7p Thursday at 1500 McDaniel.

Rue Simmons ... ward meeting 7p Wednesday at Civic Center.

Council votes to go into executive session

Public meeting ends at 11:12 p.m.


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