Recap: City Council


Here’s a recap of our live coverage of tonight’s Evanston City Council meeting — where aldermen are scheduled to vote on whether to take the next step toward demolishing the Harley Clarke mansion and to adopt the city’s new climate action plan..

The meeting will start after the conclusion of the Planning and Development Committee meeting.

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

The first four hours of the meeting.

The last few minutes.

Meeting called to order at 7:50 p.m.

Mayor praises dedication of aldermen and city staff and volunteers serving on boards and commissions.

Police Chief Richard Eddington announces promotion of three police officers … Ken Carter to sergeant .. Jason Garner to commander … Jody Hart … to sergeant in office of professional standards.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz honors Martha Logan on her retirement upcoming at the end of the year.

… and Police Chief Richard Eddington on his retirement.

Public Comment

Mayor says 71 people have signed up for public comment

Says speakers will have 45 seconds each.

Initial few speakers favor demolition

Representative of “Friends of Harley Clarke” offer $15K/yr for next two years to maintain the building.

Says have raised $300K+

Several more speakers repeat the same script opposing demolition — substituting vote count for the ward they live in.

After that numerous other people opposed to demolition offer their own scripts.

A few more people speak in favor of demolition.

And back to opponents of demolition.

Two people speak in opposition to extension of the library lot purchase agreement.

At 9:22 p.m. the mayor says he’s more than half way through the list of speakers.

In the midst of the Harley Clarke speakers, a couple more people speak in favor of the climate action plan and a couple more oppose the library lot sale extension.

Public comment ends at 9:45 p.m.

SP 1 – City Council goals

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, moves to hold the issue until the Council’s next meeting, on Jan. 14.

SP 2 – Harley Clarke appeal

Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, moves and Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, seconds the motion.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, says aldermen couldn’t comment on the referendum before the vote was taken. Says that’s been difficult.

Says she hopes the council will accept the application so the hearing on it can be held in January.

Says she beleives the Preservation Commission failed to meet some of the standards.

Says she was deeply involved in establishing the Northeast Historic District in 1999.

Says Harley Clarke is not part of the Northeast district. So Preservation Commission’s references to the district are inappropriate, she says.

Says the city has nothing to do with national historic district designation — it’s an honor, but it’s not enforceable, she says.

Says Preservation Commission didn’t do the homework needed to make appropriate findings.

Says city wanted beachland and parks for everyone in the 1960s along the lakefront.

Says there are many other homes in northeast Evanston that are similar in style to the Harley Clarke mansion.

Says the city is not in a rush to demolish — have two years from the date of signing of the agreement with the dunes group to figure it out.

Says to create an endowment to allow the house to maintain itself would likely require $11 million.

Recaps five different options for the future of the property — says those were the options when the Harley Clarke committee finished its work over two years ago

Suggests doing a double track — proceed with the demolition possibility, while looking at other options as well.

Erika Storle, assistant city manager, says she’s received numerous inquiries about possible uses for the mansion.

Assisted living, senior housing, as a film set, as a single family home and others.

Alderman Wilson says dcision tonight is whether or not to accept the appeal. Says appreciaes any idea the city gets — even if he doesn’t agree with it.

An appeal is a process, to address error or ambiguity in the record that exists. Says expects people to follow the rules when they come to the city, think the city needs to follow the process as well.

Says he’s not convinced the city would succeed if it accepted the appeal and the decision was appealed to the courts.

Says he thinks Harley Clarke is a perfectly good old building. Lots of uses that don’t require its being restored to its former grandeur.

Says doesn’t think it’s the right thing to do to hold on to the Dunes group’s money.

Alderman Eleanor Revelle, 7th Ward, praises Fiske’s preservation record. But agees with Wilson that doesn’t want to see the city prolonging the whole discussion. Says agrees with Preservation Commission that the condition of the building didn’t represent a dangerous hazard.

Says need a period of time without the threat of demolition for an appropriate reuse proposal to be developed.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, agrees with Wilson and Revelle. Says demolition acts as a suppressor of good ideas. Says mothballing the building is a good idea. Says money for that is readily available from the community.

Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, says have two bad decisions here. Has shown a lot of ugliness in our city. Says shocked that people are so angry about a building. Says people say the voters wanted something — but then the voters also elected Trump.

Says it’s a building. Happy to have it stand. But doubts  will be able to find a non-profit that could take over he building and sustain it.

Says she won’t support anything that puts this burden on the taxpayers. People tell her they can ‘t afford the trash rate increase. Not going to make them pay for Harley Clarke.

Says if want to look at equity — this building is not it.

Michelle Masoncup, city attorney, says if vote is to not accept the appeal, then the money from the Dunes group will be returned.

Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, says she’s disappointed that there’s been so little interest financially in saving the Family Focus building. Says she’s disappointed that council has spent so much time on Harley Clarke. Says people in community need support.

Says can’t tell whether Harley Clarke is an asset or a liability. Says the ugliness in the community — says people have been putting pro-Harley Clarke signs on her property, though she opposed the referendum. Says pro-Harley Clarke supporters misled people at the polls in the 5th Ward.

Indicates she will vote against taking the appeal. But will not support spending any taxpayer money on the building.

Wynne says it’s a two-step process — stop the demolition and then later accept the money to mothball the building.

Fiske says she thinks its irresponsible to vote tonight to give money back. Can decide to do that in January, if we want.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, says he’s seen more distasteful emotions around this building than anything else. Says he’ll put his record against any building any day.

Council votes 9-0 not to accept the appeal.

Mayor notes that now everything ever proposed for Harley Clarke has been rejected.

Pritzker proposal failed on a 6-3 vote.

IDNR proposal for an office fell apart.

Harley Clarke advisory committee looked at all different options — wasn’t unanimous consent.

Then came the Evanston Lakehouse and Gardens proposal. The council considered it, had lengthy conversations, ultimately rejected that on a 7-2 vote.

Now tonight have another group that worked very hard to come up with a solution, and this council has decided on a 9-0 vote not to accept this appeal.

Don’t think will find anyone in the city who isn’t dissatisfied with Harley Clarke.

Now will all have to work effectively together, not vilify those with other ideas, and come up with a solution.

And at 10:55 p.m. the council moves on to …

Consent agenda

Off consent:

A 15 – Library lot purchase and sale agreement extension

… at request of Alderman Wynne.

A 18 – Recycling center redevelopment agreement and sale

…. at request of Alderman Fiske.

A 24 – Resident parking only districts

A 25 – Fire department transport fees

A 26 – Tuko Cantina liquor license

… all at request of Fiske.

P 3 – 1943 Sherman major variations

… off at request of Alderman Rue Simmons.

P 5 – Zoning relief for 2626 Reese.

… tabled until Jan. 28 meeting.

O 1 – Emerson honorary street name

… off at request of Fiske

O 2 – Climate action plan

… off at request of Fiske.

Consent agenda approved.

A 15 – Library lot purchase and sale agreement extension

Fiske says agreement calls for $50,000 non-refundable security deposit. Says doesn’t think should make it non-refundable. Says developers are scheduled to go to Plan Commission Wednesday night. Shouldn’t be asking them at this point to lose $50K if the project doesn’t go through.

Approved 6-3. Suffredin, Revelle and Wynne vote no.

Wynne says she doesn’t believe should grant the extension and doesn’t approve of the changes made in the proposal from what was in the original city contract.

Wilson says he will vote for the extension but has concerns — says building needs to come in as what we expected it to be.

Fiske says is looking forward to the Plan Commission meeting. Says don’t feel comfortable aldermen criticizing the project before it gets to the Plan Commission.

Says city asked the developer to come in and design a beautifu builidng that would fit between two landmark properties. She thinks the beauty of the building is a great public benefit. Hasn’t seen any other developers doing that. Says is extremely pleased what the developer has done.

Says have been looking for an office development downtown for a long time — this will put 500 office workers in the building to support local businesses downtown.

Approved 7-2. Wynne and Revelle vote no.

A 18 – Recycling center redevelopment agreement and sale

Rainey supports introduction. Hosting meeting Jan 9 at Levy Center on this issue.

Approved 9-0 for introduction

A 24 – Resident parking only districts

Approved 8-0. (Wynne absent)

A 25 – Fire department transport fees

Includes provision letting city manager waive the fee for financial hardship cases.

Approved 9-0. (with a minor amendment)

A 26 – Tuko Cantina liquor license

Fiske says the location is five feet away from Sherman Gardens, large residential building with balconies that face the restaurant.

Hagerty says his recollection is that the owner agreed voluntarily to stop sales at midnight.

Fiske says that agreement hasn’t been reached yet.

Fiske moves to hold the ordinance to the next meeting, Jan. 14

P 3 – 1943 Sherman major variations

Approved 8-0. Rue Simmons abstains.

O 1 – Emerson honorary street name for Nathan Halibrton 

Has operated funeral home on the street for 43 years.

Approved 9-0.

O 2 – Climate action plan

Fiske says she supports the ideas behind the ordinance — but needs to know what the cost of it is.

When we vote to approve something like this we should have an idea of what the cost to the taxpayers will be.

Revelle says can’t really put a pricetag on it. Some will be funded by grants. Some will have cost reductions because of technological innovations.

Wilson says the idea is to get people to recognize what we need to do. Says technology will evolve. Important to set a course and start looking at how we’ll get there.

Fiske says she’s willing to support it as a feel-good program. But there are specific budget costs. Wants to replace all street lights by 2025. Want to be fair and honest with the taxpayers.

Would like to start putting money aside in next year’s budget. Need to be transparent and honest with the residents of Evanston.

Storlie says staff can come back in March with an implementation plan.

Wynne says “gotta start somewhere” and “have already made good progress” and there’s “a lot more to do.”

Approved 9-0.

Call of the wards

Rue Simmons … holiday party ward meeting Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Gibbs Morrison.

Rainey … Jan 9 … 7p Levy Center … on development projects

Fleming … holiday party Saturday noon to 2p at Levy Center … bring a coat for the coat drive.

Braithwaite… 2nd Ward meeting Thursday at 7p at 1500 McDaniel.

Council votes to go into executive session at 12:01 a.m.




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