Last month, City Council voted to authorize City staff to prepare a request for proposal (RFP) to be issued seeking not-for-profit uses for the Harley Clarke mansion. Staff prepared a suggested RFP, and at their July 10 meeting, City Council members punted the RFP back with a host of suggested edits and changes.
“Misunderstandings in scope were a problem in the past,” said Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, perhaps referring to the 2013 request that netted several interested parties but no serious proposals that would have kept the property in public use.
Two Aldermen referred to the importance of a specific reference to the Lakefront Master Plan, a plan for inclusive use attractive and available to all of Evanston, and a shorter timeframe to receive and review proposals.
At least two, Aldermen Melissa Wynne, whose Third Ward includes the lakefront from Dempster south, and Judy Fiske, whose First Ward includes the lakefront between the Northwestern University campus and Dempster Street, stated strong opposition to a restaurant or food service use beyond perhaps café serving light fare.
“I can’t support a restaurant on the lakefront,” said Ald. Fiske. “It creates a precedent on the lakefront that I think would be a mistake.”
“Like Alderman Fiske, I have always been adamant that we not have a full service restaurant on the lakefront,” said Ald. Wynne.
Not-for-profit uses that keep the mansion and parkland open to the public, with perhaps a small café as part of the proposal, are sought. Proposals can include the Jens Jensen gardens, but no more of the grounds or parkland surrounding the mansion.
The revised RFP should be ready for the next meeting, scheduled for July 24.