Here’s a recap of our live coverage of tonight’s Evanston City Council meeting.

The meeting is scheduled to begin about 7:40 p.m.

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

Meeting called to order ay 7:43 p.m.

Citizen Comment

Barbara Janes, 802 Colfax, says would prefer not selling Harley Clarke mansion, but if it is to be sold, need to have clear guidelines for the agreement — and doesn’t see them.

Another speaker suggests selling the building for $1 — but with reverter provision that if IDNR vacates the property, the building would revert back to the city.

Junad Rizki — says art center loan is just another of many giveaways by the city.

Herb Harms, 2133 Crawford, doesn’t want to see Evanston spend millions fixing up the Harley Clarke mansion. Suggests taking it down to have more parkland. Suggests something like the “nice little deck” that Glencoe has overlooking the beach.

Mike Vasilko, 2728 Reese, opposes aid for Chicago-Main project. Supports sale of Harley Clarke mansion — because city can’t afford to renovate it.

A number of people speak in favor of city aid to Little Beans Cafe.

Special order of business

SP 1 – Evanston Art Center loan request

Norah Diedrich, executive director of the art center, makes the request.

Related story

Says now has $1.6 million raised, including two $500K gifts. More pledges promised.

Says EAC hasn’t done a capital campaign since the 1940s.

Says First Bank & Trust has approved a $1.5 million loan for the building.

Asking for loan — short term, if that works best — to cover the gap between the $1.5M from FB&T and the $2M required to close on purchase of the building.

Says plans to pay back the loan through contributions to the capital campaign and money from the center’s reserves.

Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, asks why this wasn’t sent to a committee — like economic development — before coming to City Council.

And asks whether there’s a co-signer on the loan from FB&T for the art center.

Diedrich says not co-signer on the loan.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says didn’t get get the letter until last Wednesday. Mayor says she decided to put it on the council agenda for tonight as a result of the time constraint.

Burrus says art center should have known sooner that it was going to need money. Doesn’t understand how can continue to do this kind of back and forth with not-for-profits making last-minute requests.

Bobkiewicz, says request tonight is directional, not asking for any final action tight.

Diedrich says have been going down a path for financing the building for eight months and only found out that the plan had for financing the purchase wasn’t going to work out last Monday.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, asks whether can provide additional documentation quickly. Dietrich says yes.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, asks what term she’s asking for.

Diedrich says two year was mentioned, and if that’s what the city is comfortable with, “that’s what we’ll make work.”

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, says can support the concept, but need a lot more information quickly. Asks whether any donors were asked to provide the money.

Diedrich says have one or two individuals who could be asked, but probably can’t loan the entire $500K, but are continuing the campaign.

Fiske says the plan and the energy it will bring to Central Street meshes very nicely with the city’s plans.

Rainey asks where the city’s money would come from. Bobkiewicz says Economic Development Fund could provide the money, especially if the term was 12 to 18 months.

Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, says he’s very encouraged by the progress the art center has made in fundraising, but knows need to see more documentation.

Rainey moves for staff to prepare proposal for 18 month loan.

Bobkiewicz says that with the planned improvements the building will have a value that will exceed the amount of the loans. Says for city’s budget and cash flow purposes need to limit the term to 18 months.

Wilson suggests installment payments every six months. Pleased that there will be real estate to secure the loans.

Grover says should be interest payments to the city over the term of the loan.

Burrus says the deal will cost $117K in lost property tax revenue, once the building is owned by a non-profit. Says that seems counterintuitive. Suggests should keep on tax rolls until loan is paid off.

Asks whether there will be scholarships for low and moderate income Evanston residents.

Diedrich, if have to pay property taxes, won’t be able to service the debt on the building. Says have budgeted for charity offerings — and will increase amount offered — part of requirements for maintaining tax exemption from the state.

Rainey asks if have decided where to locate the metal studio. Dietrich says haven’t decided yet (aren’t able to fit that into the 1717 Central building).

Tendam says even it this isn’t on the tax rolls, it will help redevelop what has been a long-dormant section of Central Street.

Vote 7-1 Burrus votes no. (Braithwaite is absent.)

City manager promises to return with a full proposal for the loan at next week’s City Council meeting.

Consent Agenda

Off the consent agenda

  • A 3.2 – Lakota Group contract for park system evaluation.
  • A 15 – Ride sharing/transportation network providers regulation.
  • H2 – Harley Clarke mansion sale.
  • O4 – TIF agreement for Chicago-Main development

Consent agenda approved.

Lakota Group contract

Holmes says questions raised were answered and committee approved.

Wilson says he objects to spending so much money on just planning work — rather than actual projects. Requests that proposal be sent back to committee.

At suggestion of Alderman Rainey, who believes he doesn’t have the votes to pass the motion, Wilson changes his motion to just hold the proposal until the next meeting.

Ride sharing

Holmes says committee requested additional information from city manager about whether to move toward deregulating cabs or adopting some form of ride sharing regulation.

So, no action tonight. More probably in a month.

Harley Clarke mansion sale

Fiske asks regarding reversion and term of lease

City manager … says would look at a 99 year lease for the property … on flexibility regarding reversion … says comes back to price. If council looking to get fair market value to sell, then demanding no-cost reversion, that’s not realistic. If willing to sell it for $1, then reversion at no cost would be more feasible.

Fiske…says $1 sale price would be reasonable to get easier reversion.

Says thinks should go for 30 year initial lease term.

Wilson says understands ideas and thoughts regarding sale. But says looks like negotiating against ourselves because don’t have an offer on the table. Wants to see an offer first. Doesn’t want to put additional restrictions on it. Offer could be something completely different, or something that doesn’t line up with the expectations.

Suggests leaving the proposal as it is.

Grover says not interested in hamstringing ourselves. Wants to give city manager flexibility. Thinks he’s accutely aware of community interest in retaining the property and not having any owner of the building other than the city or IDNR. Possibly consider the conservation easement option a resident mentioned earlier this evening.

Wynne says clear want to keep the building in the public domain, but don’t want to negotiate against ourselves. Says agrees want the building to either be a City of Evanston or an IDNR building.

Fiske says agrees with that. Still favors leasing the building. Wants manager to see if that still may be possible. (Though IDNR has said it can’t get funding for the rehab unless it owns it.)

Tendam notes that the final decision will require a super-majority vote of the ocuncil. And he expresses reservations about whether the state should be spending $8 million to rehab a mansion on the lake.

Approved 7-1. Rainey votes no.

Main and Chicago TIF grant

Burrus says excited to see building there, but troubled that did a TIF there, and that city is making a requirement of office space, which in turn is going to cost the city millions of dollars.

Wilson says this is generally not the doing of the developer, but the doing of the city. (City pushed for the office development.)

Wynne says favors this — says it’s Evanston moving forward to the future. Refers to the gigabit grant which will provide super-high speed internet service to this building and others in the area.

Says it will help create new, high-tech jobs in the community.

Approved 6-2. Burrus and Wilson vote no.

Call of the wards

Rainey … bike the ridge sept. 28 … six food trucks…events with Ridgeville Park District. Says look for surprise announcement by Gov. Quinn at the event.

Wynne…Baker Park renovation meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1, Lincoln School.

Grover… Green Living Festival all day Saturday at the Ecology Center.

Council votes to go into executive session to discuss a real estate matter.

Public meeting ends at 9:16 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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