Evanston aldermen this week decided to stay on schedule with the decision-making process for the Harley Clarke mansion and maintain a deadline of March 23 for city staff to deliver to City Council an evaluation of the four proposals received  last week for leasing the lakefront property.

During Monday’s Rules Committee meeting Mayor Steve Hagerty noted that before the request for proposals for the mansion was issued last May aldermen had considered appointing a citizens committee to assist in the review process.

In addition some speakers during public comment at Monday’s meeting suggested naming such a committee.

Nancy Sreenan said, “March 23 seems to be really rushing it. All the proposals should be on the table for citizens to evaluate and representatives from the entire community should be on that evaluation committee.”

But Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said he didn’t envision having a new committee start the selection process all over again. The review, by staff, he said, is just to make sure the proposals submitted comply with the requirements of the RFP.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said the proposed review by staff sounds a lot like what the staff members on the Design and Project Review Committee do for development proposals.

“This is not necessarily a conversation we need to reopen with the community. It’s a conversation to see how these individual submissions meet the criteria we established in the RFP,” Fiske said.

Alderman Eleanor Revelle, 7th Ward, suggested that the Council might want to schedule a special meeting at which the four groups could make presentations to the aldermen.

And Wilson suggested that a recommendation for awarding the lease should be introduced at one Council meeting and not approved until a later meeting “so there’s plenty of time for people to see it, consider it and weigh in.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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