After receiving more than 1,000 responses to an online survey and holding a series of sometimes contentious meetings, Evanston’s Harley Clarke Committee is scheduled to develop recommendations for the mansion’s future at a final meeting tonight.

The committee, which is scheduled to present its report at a City Council meeting next week, has focused on five possible future uses for the now-vacant city-owned building that for decades housed the Evanston Art Center.

  • Continued city ownership of the building with renovation of it for some yet-to-be-determined use.
  • Selling the propertyto be renovated for a commercial use, such as a hotel or event space.
  • Selling the property for redevelopment for residential use.
  • Selling or donating the property to some philanthropic entity that would maintain it.
  • Demolishing the building to expand the adjoining parkland.

All the sale options would be restricted to the mansion and some portion of the grounds around it — the committee has stressed that under any of the scenarios considered public ownership of the beach, and public access to it, would be maintained.

A review of nearly 500 comments submitted to the committee along with the survey indicates sharp divisions among residents about the best alternative.

The committee’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Room 2404 at the Civic Center.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. The Committee of 74,000

    After the panel makes it's recomendations of the mansions potential uses, how about if we the voters of Evanston get the final say.  Whatever idea gets the most votes is what we go with.  This will avoid all political horse trading between the mayor and city council.  After all, isn't  it "We the People…" 

    1. Civics

      And if you finish reading the rest of that document beyond those first three words, you'll recall that we live under a constitutional republic, not a pure democracy.

      We have elected officials to represent our interests. Let's put the pressure on the mayor and aldermen with all of our views and make them make the hard decision. Remember "The buck stops here"? I'm sure they'd like nothing more than to pass this off onto someone else.

      This mansion issue has already turned in to a circus. A referendum will not make the final outcome any more satisfying for anyone.

      1. But wait, there’s more!

        I don't want them to make the hard decision.  They will not follow the views of their constitutients, unless they are the alderperson for the ward that is directly effected by the ultimate decision.  The mayor and other alderpersons will horse trade (I'll vote your way if you approve my patio for a new bar I want in my ward, or for a drive in bank or McDonalds that  I don't want in my ward or residents of Evanston who don't live in my ward, but want to park at my beach).  By the way, do you happen to live in the ward that has that "circus"? 

    2. Mansion Plans

      How foolish that the city summarily rejected the offer of Colonel Jennifer Pritzker to restore this lovely old building into a hotel that could have been the site of weddings and family gatherings for decades. Now this is the taxpayers' responsibility in a city that is overtaxed and under-funded.

  2. The mansion and it’s land

    The mansion and it's land would have been returned to the private sector years ago if it hadn't been leased to the EAC 40+ years ago. Now that the EAC has complete its self-centered free ride, it is time that the city should return it to the private sector so they can start to recover the millions of dollar they have wasted on this failed venture.

    It is about time that our city council show some responsibility toward the taxpayers, rather than their special intrest friends. The city should not build any patios on Howard street, parking lots on Chicago avenue, or special places for their friends on Sheridan road.

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