June 8 Harley Clarke Update

On June 8, 2015, SEA President, Sheila Sullivan spoke at a City Council meeting during which the final report of the Citizen Advisory Committee was presented. The purpose of the meeting was for the council to vote on whether to accept or reject the report. About 100-150 people filled the council chamber and spilled out to the outer room where the meeting was televised.

About 40 people spoke in support of keeping the building and land public. Most commented on the future of the Harley Clarke mansion as opposed to whether the council should accept or reject the report. 

Sullivan’s presentation reiterated SEA’s support of Option 1—renovate the building for public, non-profit use, but that SEA also could support the city leasing the property to a foundation to renovate and repurpose the building as a community educational and cultural center. 

Sullivan stated that the Citizen Advisory Committee survey showed that over 67% of respondents want the Harley-Clarke mansion and grounds to remain public and non-commercial. This sentiment, reinforced by oral and e-mail public comments, should be enough to rule out commercial development; however, the final Committee Report states that there is no community consensus on future use of the property. 

Sullivan raised the potential for a conflict of interest resulting from the inclusion of two city council members on the seven-member Advisory Committee, since the two members will be voting with the rest of City Council on the final disposition of the property. Sullivan stated that the two council members should recuse themselves from the final City Council vote.

Sullivan also stated that an independent third party, with no stake in the outcome of the Harley Clarke property, should have chaired the Citizen Advisory Committee and should at least be brought in to review the data, information collected, and the Committee’s final report prepared for the City Council. 

From 9-10 pm, Committee Chairman, Steven Haggerty presented the final Committee report. After the meeting, the Council voted to accept the report and plans to discuss the future of Harley Clarke in September.

Posted on July 30, 2015 and filed under Development & Zoning, Evanston Community.