Recap: City Council: Part One


Here’s a recap of our live coverage of tonight’s Evanston City Council meeting during which aldermen are expectd to vote on whether to seek demolition of the Harley Clarke mansion and whether to seek voter approval of an increase in the real estate transfer tax.

A packet with information on tonight’s agenda items is available online. The meeting will begin after the Planning and Development Committee meeting. So it probably won’t start before 7:30 p.m.

Meeting called to order at 7:46 p.m.

Mayor Hagerty is on vacation. Alderman Fiske filling in as mayor pro-tem.

Lawrence Hemingway, parks director, introduces Special Olympics athletes.

Public Comment

67 people signed up. Comment period extended to give people one minute each.

Live video of the meeting is available on our home page.

Comments made about

  • 917 Edgemere: Against the planned home … 2 speakers. In favor of the new home … 8 speakers.
  • Harley Clarke … Opposed to demolition … 54 speakers. In favor of demolition … 4 speakers.

Public comment ends 9:34 p.m.

SP 1 – Harley Clarke demo resolution

Dunes group says prepared to come up wiht an additional $100K for restoration of the site and landscaping.

Alderman Fleming says some 9th Ward voters do favor demolition. Says it’s unfair for people here at meeting to assume that people don’t have other thoughts.

Says need to make decisions that are right, even if not popular.

Says it’s a very hard decision. Would love for it to be repurposed. But only had one offer when the RFP was on the table.

Alderman Eleanor Revelle, 7th Ward, says estimate of demolition cost is woefully inadequate. Concerned about other hazardous issues beyond the asbestos mentioned by the Dunes group.

Doesn’t support getting rid of the building but if were, should deconstruct rather than demolish it.

Says should wait for referendum vote to decide what to do.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, says deeply opposed to demolition. Will regret it if is demolished.

Claims $400K wouldn’t begin to cover the cost of demolition.

Suggests better to mothball the building would be better than demolishing it.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward says if had supported boutique hotel several years ago would have had 500 employees working and people enjoying restaurants and having new life at that location — and it would be beautifully restored.

No matter what commercial use comes to us, we will reject it, she says.

The most anybody will support is a little bookstore, a little cafe and litte workshops for little children.

Says you don’t have to save Harley Clarke to have children of multiple races on the beach.

Says there’s a lot of fantasizing about Harley Clarke, and all of a sudden this bundle of bricks is the most important thing in the city.

Alderman Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward, says he disagrees with what Rainey says.

Says there’ll be a referendum in November. Says figure out what to do — that’s funded — afterward.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, says it’s all about the budget to me. Says when looking at saving a building versus saving services that are critical to the town  … will be looking at agencieis that provide shelter to battered women … provide services to youth … to seniors.

Says for him it’s very easy vote — to vote for demolition.

Corporation Counsel says a referendum petition would need to be certified by the city clerk’s office

City Clerk says there are over 50K voters in the city … at last estimate there were 3,400 names on the petition.

Last day o file objections is Aug. 11.

Would be advisory referendum.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, says agrees with “don’t privatize our parkland” … already made commitment to not do that. Says protection of lakefront is very important. As much as I like the house, she says, this is not the right spot for it to be standing in.

Says we all have an interest in what happens in our community. Says in her ward it’s 50-50. Thanks the Dunes people for standing up.

Wants the lakefront protected and says the site will be beautiful.

Revelle asks for more clarification about possible role of Rebuilding Warehouse.

Assistant City Manager Erika Storlie says there are different kinds of deconstruction. Says the Taylor bid includes recovery and resale of some of the materials. 

Says Rebuilding Warehouse didn’t want to be involved in the discussion at this point — because of the controversy.

Says if get to point where write an RFP for demolition –then could ask for more details about exactly how process would go.

Wynne says city is likely to get stuck with a bill for at least $200K if accept the Dunes proposal.

Rainey says don’t have the money for thorough deconsruction process — that would be too expensive.

Says should offer Rebuilding Warehouse access to remove certain items of interest — but not to pay them for the work.

City Manager Wally Bobkeiwicz says making changes in the proposal will likely add additional cost.

Rue Simmons says can’t support having any cost to the city on this.

Storlie says could rework the MOU to cover that.

Vote on amendment to add $100K for restoration.

Carries 5-3. Wynne Suffreden Revelle vote no.

Nicole Kustock says Dunes group is not prepared to cover unlimited cost overruns.

Rue Simmons moves to make full cost the responsibility of the Dunes group.

Carries 8-0.

Main motion carries 5-3. Wynne, Suffredin and Revelle vote no.

SP 2 – Appeal of Preservation Commission decision on 917 Edgemere Court

Council takes a 5 minute recess at 10:56 p.m. to let the room clear of people who were here for Harley Clarke.


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