City files Harley Clarke appeal

The Harley Clarke mansion.

Evanston aldermen are now scheduled to decide Dec. 10 whether to move forward with the next step leading toward demolishing the Harley Clarke mansion.

The Dec. 10 discussion was triggered by the city on Tuesday filing an appeal of the Preservation Commission's decision denying a certificate of appropriateness for demolition of the lakefront structure.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says that if the aldermen decide Dec. 10 to accept the appeal, they will likely schedule a hearing on the appeal for the Jan. 14 Council meeting.

In its appeal, the city argues that the commission's decision obligates the city to maintain the mansion "at an exorbitant cost that is financially burdensome on the city."

Aldermen this week adopted a 2019 budget that calls for nearly $5 million in tax and fee increases to balance a $116 million general fund budget, along with nearly $2.6 million in expense cuts, achieved largely through the net reduction of more than a dozen city jobs.

The commission in its findings disputed the city's claims about the cost of maintaining the mansion and argued demolition "would be detrimental to the public interest and contrary to the general welfare of the people."

The city, by contrast, claims that the mansion and its coach house "are not a prime example of one particular architectural style or design," and that they don't meet the standard required by the city code for compelling preservation.

Earlier this month Evanston voters approved an advisory referendum by an 80 percent margin that called for preserving the mansion "at minimal or no cost" to the taxpayers.

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