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The Evanston Community Lakehouse & Gardens (ECLG) hopes for a postponement.
The Harley Clarke Mansion is back in the news. City staff’s recommendations for awarding a lease is an agenda item and will be presented to the Evanston City Council on March 8, 2021. The landmark building, which was constructed as a private home in 1927, has remained vacant for more than five years since the Evanston Art Center vacated the property in 2015. Four groups have submitted proposals for securing a lease: Evanston Community Lakehouse and Gardens (ECLG); Artist’s Book House; Evanston Conservancy and ONECommunity Museum.
The members of the ECLG board are hoping for a postponement of a decision on the lease until the pandemic has subsided.
“We believe it is in the best interest of the community to postpone the Harley Clarke discussion due to the ongoing pandemic; however, if the Evanston City Council decides to go forth with a decision, we believe that ECLG is the best candidate and should be awarded the lease,” Emily Guthrie, ECLG president says.
Ms. Guthrie also says the ELCG can qualify for a $1.5 million loan. The ECLG proposal also includes work by an architect with many years of experience on various Harley Clarke projects; he has developed a plan that will allow staging the rehabilitation. Portions of the building can be open for programs even as other work progresses. No other proposal in front of the City stipulates a phased renovation.
“What this means is that with the loan and this architect, the rehab process can begin quickly,” Ms. Guthrie says.
Most importantly, she adds, the ECLG is focused on community programming and already hosted three community meetings at the Civic Center in early 2019. Several hundred people attended those meetings and produced more than 2,500 ideas for classes, activities and events that could be held at the mansion.
“ECLG is a non-profit organization,” she says. “We have no interest in using City-owned property to make a profit. We will not have investors expecting a return on their money. We will, at some future date, after the pandemic, ask our community supporters for tax-deductible donations to help with the renovation.”