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November 13, 2018

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Posted: Monday, November 5, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Paula Twilling

The current attempt by the Harley Clarke supporters is a referendum campaign to stop demolition of the house. However, the city council after much discussion and years of trying to find answers as to what to do with this structure, voted to support the group of residents who are willing to raise funds to demolish the house and naturalize the area.

Unlike the Robert Crown Center which has a mission and actual users, the Harley Clarke house has only hopes and dreams of those who cannot let this house go. This is called magical thinking and it should end. The referendum asks voters to save the house at “at minimal or no cost to Evanston taxpayers”. What does this mean? The cost is unspecified. However, most everyone is aware that the Evanston city budget for next year has a hole the size of the Harley Clarke house. It is the city council’s job to try to sew up the hole and it should not include spending any more money trying to keep the house standing. Perhaps supporters think the advisory referendum might delay demolition, thereby revisiting the IDNR idea and transferring present and future costs to the state. However, the State of Illinois should not allocate money that they do not have on trying to shore up this structure either.

Instead of the easy, feel-good vote on November 6, a vote of “No” is actually the positive, forward- thinking choice which signals to the elected officials that you believe they should spend no more time or money on this issue and return the land upon which the structure sits to the people to enjoy as open space for generations to come.





Posted: Monday, November 5, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Lori Keenan

Dollars and Sense about the Budget from Save Harley Clarke. As voters head to the polls tomorrow with the specter of budget woes weighing on everyone’s mind, Save Harley Clarke wants to dispel some rumors that have been perpetuated that, “we shouldn't be saving a mansion by the lake when we’re closing a firehouse.” If that were true, we’d be the first to agree, but it is not true. Saving Harley Clarke is not related to closing a firehouse. We want to save both houses.

At Save Harley Clarke, we want to make it clear to the elected body as well as the electorate in Evanston, that it is a false narrative to imply or directly state that preserving the Harley Clarke house has any adverse impact on the budget.

At Save Harley Clarke we believe in human capital, in Evanston employees keeping their jobs, in Firehouse #4, Engine 24, and in first responders. We believe in youth services, in mental health services, in the health department, and victim services.

The budget problems are NOT the fault of Harley Clarke. First, maintenance of the house represents .004% of the budget of the City of Evanston at just $15,000 per year, which two different citizen groups have offered to pay until a suitable adaptive reuse solution can be found. Save Harley Clarke is not asking for any city money. Not a dime. Harley Clarke is NOT a budget issue.

At Save Harley Clarke, we believe working together we can find the solutions to the budget issues, but it is going to take working together with honesty and integrity -- without making false equivalencies.

We believe that philanthropic giving is not a zero sum game, but even if it were, there are historic tax credits and grants to help turn Harley Clarke into the economic engine that it has the potential to be, with every dollar invested in historic preservation returning $2.44 to the community.

At Save Harley Clarke, we believe in a clean environment and know that the greenest building is the one that is already standing, and that demolition would have devastating effects on Evanston’s environmental health. We believe in good government of and for the people where as stewards of our assets they will represent the will of the people and their concerns for the environment and public health and are grateful for the support of Citizens’ Greener Evanston and co-chair of the Mayor’s Citizen Committee for Climate Action Resilience Plan who supports preservation of the built environment and that “the greenest building is the one already standing.”

We believe in the good guidance of the Preservation Commission who last voted unanimously to deny the City’s application for a certificate of appropriateness to demolish this $3 million dollar public asset, as described by Ald. Judy Fiske on Phil Ponce’s Chicago Tonight. We question the City’s stewardship of Harley Clarke through the years and hope they can now realize the asset they have and turn it into the economic engine it can become.

We sincerely hope that our elected officials will take seriously the results of the referendum and listen to the voice of the people. More importantly, we sincerely hope that the Evanston community knows that Harley Clarke is not the reason the City Manager has proposed closing a firehouse or is losing employee positions. Harley Clarke supports the Evanston Firefighters and other staff, and values people over buildings. We want to turn Harley Clarke into an economic engine for Evanston. A yes vote on the ballot referendum will help do that. For more information, visit www.saveharleyclarke.org




Posted: Friday, November 2, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Clif Brown

I applaud the large turnout at Beth Emet Synagogue shown in your November 1st issue. There is no place for anti-semitism in America.

At the same time I despair that the routine killing of unarmed Palestinians demonstrating at the border of Gaza with Israel by fully armed and protected Israeli snipers secure behind fences has gone on for many months now with little to no notice in the United States, even though it is only possible because the U.S. does nothing to stop it. At the same time, our constitutional right to free speech is being restrained by the many states including Illinois that have enacted laws punishing companies that might join the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement against Israel. A national anti-BDS law is in the works.

Roundtable readers are likely unaware that the Palestinians in the areas occupied by Israel have been without liberty and justice for all of the 70 years during which they have had only Israeli military law that allows Israeli settlers to take their land with no consequences and Israeli soldiers to arrest and oppress any Palestinian at will. Midnight raids that invade private homes to take family members, including children, away to prison are a common practice, with parents not allowed to accompany their children and no limit on the time the children may be kept in detention. Every Palestinian is at the mercy of the lowest ranking Israeli Defense Forces soldier.

It is a national shame that America allows this to continue, in fact has rewarded it with the move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. We show ourselves to be hypocrites when this happens at the same time we proclaim there should be liberty and justice for all and swell with pride under the stars and stripes.

Most Americans have an automatic fond feeling for Israel while at the same time being ignorant of what Israel is doing and has been doing to the Palestinians for many decades. Get informed. Watch the award winning video, "The Occupation of the American Mind." Go to the Jewish Voice for Peace website to find out how you can become active to turn things around. For the most powerful truth telling go to the website of B'Tselem (bet-sell-EM) the Israeli NGO for human rights in the occupied territories to get the full, detailed, documented (in text and video) account of the long term horror that America supports related by Israelis aghast at what their country is doing. Then, take action politically to put what you learn to good purpose. You will find all your politicians from local right on up to Congress standing in defense of Israel no matter what it does so your new knowledge will run into a wall of opposition. Nevertheless, as members of a (faltering) democracy, we the people must turn this human rights atrocity around since it is our political leaders that keep it going.



Posted: Thursday, November 1, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Charles Smith



HC a place for everyone
I saw a picture reported to be the vision of the future of the Harley Clarke site by the group planning to demolish the mansion. What I saw was a clear unbroken expanse of grass and off on the horizon between the green grass and the blue sky were the waters of Lake Michigan. No house, no trees, no shrubs -- just a view of the lake. The argument for demolition has been that this site can become open parkland and a restored dune habitat. The naturalized area being referred to as a dune is not in fact a natural dune and never was, but these sensitive areas still need protection. Please read Libby Hill’s excellent history on the site, The Lighthouse Dunes: History and Future, published in the Roundtable on July 9th.
The section of the landscape surrounding the mansion consists of dozens of healthy mature trees, many of them more than 20 inches and some more than 26 inches in diameter, including a magnificent Bur Oak and a spectacular Copper Beech, the largest one in Evanston. The existing landscape also includes a well-constructed waterfall flanked by a large stand of hemlock trees. Currently, the landscape provides many layers of valuable and productive wildlife habitat.
I know some of the people on the Dunes Group donor list and they are good Evanston citizens who may not be aware of the substantial costs, both financial and biological, of maintaining a grass landscape. Grass can only be kept with the use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer, none of which is required to maintain a healthy landscape dominated by mature trees. It should be obvious that eliminating this mature landscape and replacing it with open grassland is not an improvement to the habitat. So if the goal is not an improved habitat, what remains is the thin blue line of Lake Michigan on the horizon. For a select few, the benefit to removing the Harley Clarke mansion and cutting down the trees is the enhanced view of the lake.
The Harley Clarke issue is not about habitat restoration. The manmade “dunes” that have evolved over the past few decades should be preserved and enhanced, but this has no relation to the demolition proposal. The most diverse, natural habitat on the property has always been the forest woodland habitat upland from the shoreline surrounding the mansion, containing mature trees that serve as nesting sites for birds and an important part of the migratory bird habitat. The decision we make about the future of this unique property will be an indicator of the type of community we are.
Allowing Harley Clark to become a public house, an opportunity for families from all over Evanston to experience the lakefront from a grand house with a beautiful landscape promotes human and wildlife diversity as well environmental and social equity. We want to live in a community where all residents are welcome in all neighborhoods, including the lakefront. Harley Clarke could be a community center that benefits all of Evanston.
We should enthusiastically support the efforts to preserve this spectacular building and grounds and vote to Save Harley Clarke.



Posted: Thursday, November 1, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Bonnie McDonald, President & CEO, Landmarks Illinois

Landmarks Illinois: Preserve the Mansion
Landmarks Illinois is urging Evanston residents on November 6 to vote “Yes” in favor of preserving the Harley Clarke Mansion. The Evanston Preservation Commission unanimously voted Oct. 23 to deny the city’s demolition request, but the fight to save the house is far from over. The Commission’s vote will be challenged by city officials, and the Harley Clarke Mansion still faces demolition due to a small group of residents who have offered to privately fund destruction of this publicly owned, designated Landmark.
The City’s demolition application for Harley Clarke is deeply flawed and erroneously asserts the building’s current condition as dangerous to the public, despite a lack of evidence to support this assertion. In fact, the City’s own report states it is in “good working order.” Over the last four years, Landmarks Illinois has worked with local advocates, historic building professionals and other experts to verify Harley Clarke’s potential for reuse. Many of these experts spoke at last week’s Preservation Commission hearing reiterating the home’s stable condition and historic significance. The City also denied three reuse options put before it since 2013. Landmarks Illinois offered the City a free reuse study in 2016 to find alternatives and were denied. How many roadblocks will the City throw in the way of generating revenue from Harley Clarke’s reuse?
Harley Clarke is included in the National Register of Historic Places-listed Northeast Evanston Historic District and is one of only 42 houses of architectural importance on the North Shore featured in the book, North Shore Chicago: Houses of the Lakefront Suburbs, 1890-1940. The Harley Clarke Mansion, with its Jens Jensen-designed landscape, should continue to be a place where people, near and far, can visit and enjoy. As a publicly owned, designated Landmark, the City should be working to protect Harley Clarke Mansion, not working on behalf of a small group of residents who wish to tear it down.
We ask Evanston residents to join the call in urging city officials to do the right thing - preserve the Harley Clarke Mansion as the people’s mansion. Vote “Yes” on Nov. 6, and please write, email or call your City Council members. Do not miss this chance to tell your elected officials to preserve this irreplaceable public asset!



Posted: Thursday, November 1, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Geeta Maker-Clark

ETHS Shows Us What Equity Can Look Like
I am the mother of a current sophomore at ETHS and have two younger kids on their way there one will be an incoming freshman next year. It's time for ETHS registration and I noticed that the date for incoming freshman night was set as Wednesday, November 7. For Hindus and many people of South Asian origin, this is the biggest religious and cultural holiday of the year, Diwali. This holiday is of the same gravity as Christmas, Rosh Hashanah or Eid. (Our Indian community here in Evanston is robust and growing – we have a South Asian Women's Group, an Indian Family group, and a mixed Indian family group encompassing hundreds of families.)
Thus when I saw the date of the ETHS event, which draws well over 1,000 kids and parents to the school, my heart sank. I knew my son would be disappointed we would be missing this important night, and that it might affect his enjoyment of our celebration. I also knew many other Evanston families who would be impacted – either sacrifice Diwali or sacrifice the first event of freshman life.
Growing up on the North Shore, at a time when no one had heard of Diwali, when there were few other Indian families, we regrettably very often sacrificed many of our holidays studying for tests the next day or going to mandatory sports events, diminishing our celebrations to small, quick home ceremonies. There was no acknowledgment of our cultural holidays by the schools, the government, or our workplaces.
Hinduism is the world's third largest religion, but not around here. So like so many people of color, and marginalized communities, we were not seen.
This week, I reached out to Ali Hart, the ETHS new student transition coordinator, as well as ETHS administration, about this oversight. Others in the community did as well, gratefully some allies that understand that equity should not be the work of minorities alone. On the same day, I received a response from Ms. Hart. The school changed the date to November 8th after reflecting on the impact it would have on families. She stated “I will continue to seek out ways to recognize the diverse traditions and identities of our families in future planning." To my family and so many hundreds of others here, these words are deeply welcome. THIS is why we moved to Evanston, what we hoped to find here, why we chose this high school. Diversity and equity are only words until they show up as action and move into reality. Knowing that this kind of a schedule change is not always possible, we are gratified that ETHS is willing to reschedule and honor their South Asian and Hindu families, more of whom are drawn to Evanston every year.
We yearn as humans to be seen. We applaud Ms. Hart and ETHS for seeing their students and rising up.



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