Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl says two “possible proposals” for future use of the lakefront Harley Clark mansion will be presented to the city’s Human Services Committee Monday.

The mayor told residents at a town hall meeting at the Levy Center Wednesday night that one of the two idea would keep the mansion “in the public domain.”

The Human Services Committee meeting packet has not yet been posted online and no further details of the proposals were immediately available.

Aldermen have been trying for years to decide what to do with the mansion, which has substantial deferred maintenance issues from its decades-long $1-a-year lease to the Evanston Art Center.

Art Center officials in July said they wanted to move out of the manson, but reversed course last month and said they want to stay after failing to find new quarters elsewhere they could afford.

That left open the question of whether the center is willing to pay rent sufficient to cover maintenance costs at the mansion — or rent similar to what other arts groups pay at the city’s Noyes Cultural Arts Center.

In response to a city request for proposals for new uses for the property, Col. Jennifer Pritzker presented a plan to fully renovate the mansion and expand it into a boutique hotel. But aldermen, responding to complaints from neighbors, rejected that proposal before even fully discussing it.

When city staff then presented a list of immediate repairs the property needed, aldermen indicated they didn’t want to spend the money — at least until a plan for the future of the property had been agreed upon.

Last weekend, on a tour of city facilities, the aldermen learned that the mansion is only one of many city recreation facilities that are expected to need millions in fix-up expenditures over the next few years.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. I hope the mayor has suddenly

    I hope the mayor has suddenly experirnced a cranial spark and has the following two ideas:

    • Bulldozes the mansion and buries the new water tank at that site, builds a field house on top of the tank, and places a basketball next door.
    • Begs Col. James Pritzker (because changing your name to Jennifer does not make you a girl) to forgive the timid city council and buy the building and build the underground parking garage with a few changes to his proposal.

    If the mayor comes up with anything else, it mean there was no cranial spark.

    1. Hate

      This is hate speech. I request it be removed. She has legal rights to be identified how she wants. You are vilifying her because you are a bigot.

      1. This not hate speech

        This not hate speech. You must think that any guy can throw a dress on, change his first name, and use the women's room. Unless you can prove that his mailman, or some other guy, is the father of his children, he is still James.

        As far as his quest to buy the mansion and turn it into a hotel, I hope that the city council reconsiders its mistake. If he submits his total plan and design, the process should go forward. The mansion would be fixed, there would be a lot more parking for beach goers,and a better place to visit. It would be a win for the city, the people, and james.

        Please have a nice day and avoid knee jerk reactions.

  2. The new proposal is quite good

    The proposal on the table is for offices from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources' Coastal Management program to house their offices there.

    They get federal money as part of efforts to restore and protect the Great Lakes. They also plan on having educational components and outreach so folks can learn about this important part of our environment.

    It will bring good, professional jobs to the site and they will maintain the existing property without expanding it like that Colonel wanted to do.

  3. If true, that sounds great.

    If true, that sounds great. Will they be leasing the property or the home? Will they need the entire parking lot? There are many questions. If this is one of the mayor’s proposals, it is completely unexpected. This sounds like it might be a good resolution, if Evanston does not need to spend 350k to make it habitable.

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