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June 18, 2018

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Posted: Thursday, June 14, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Carolyn Laughlin

The D65 School Climate Team article, describing the development of custom plans at each school, never mentions the word "principal". How can Ms. Bartz, Lindsay-Ryan (paid consultant), Dr.Goren, and our board members not speak to school leader responsibilities and ownership in this discussion? How can our principals not be taking the lead on this issue in their schools?

D 65's lack luster rating on Leadership Effectiveness (one of the Five Essentials of strong schools, reported in Roundtable, 10/4/17) may be rooted in the District's reluctance to establish clear expectations, empower, and hold accountable school leaders for building positive school culture, and driving academic performance.

Effective principals, in every D65 school, are key to our District's success. I hope to hear more from our principals about their plans to strengthen relationships in their buildings, and improve academic outcomes.

Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Natalie Wainwright

Confusing Request for Compliance
As a law-abiding resident of Evanston who feels strongly about doing my civic duty, I would be happy to comply with the request made by the City of Evanston, which will be sending an inspector out to check in a week.
However, the City will first have to instruct me on how this is to be accomplished, when I have (a) no garage – we have a gravel driveway – and (b) no fence facing an alley in fact, all “my” fences actually belong to my neighbors, whose backyards are on the other sides of them.

Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Jack Weiss, Director, Design Evanston

Renegotiate the ELHG Lease
Open Letter to Mayor and Aldermen:
On behalf of the Design Evanston Board of Directors and members, I want to express our deep concern over the uncertain future of the Harley Clarke mansion.
The City Council commissioned a condition assessment study by Wiss Janney Elstner Associates that found the building to be in surprisingly good shape.
Because of the Harley Clarke mansion’s landmark status–and location within the Northeast Evanston Historic District–it’s likely that the Preservation Commission would vote against demolition should that recommendation ultimately come before the Council. We know, however, that the Commission’s vote is not binding and that City Council could override it and still pursue demolition.
Design Evanston supports Alderman Eleanor Revelle’s recommendation to give Evanston Lakehouse & Gardens one year to raise $1 million and, if successful, provide them with an opportunity to renegotiate the proposed lease for Harley Clarke.
When that effort succeeds it will permit Evanston Lakehouse & Gardens to restore and operate the Harley Clarke house as a valuable Evanston asset.

Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Jill Zordan

Where’s the Plan?
I am writing to express my concern over the accelerated process now underway regarding the proposed demolition of the Harley Clarke mansion, and its pending vote before the City Council scheduled for June 18.
While the Lighthouse Dunes group may have benevolent motivations in providing the financial backing for demolition and restoration of the Harley Clarke site, where is the plan?
At present we have only seen a list of aspirational goals, but there is a void of concrete information.
The Dunes group’s website indicates their gift to the city to “restore the natural dunes, beach and parkland as part of a new public space”.
So where are the physical plans, not to mention details of a risk assessment or cost analysis (demolition plus the costs of proposed landscaping, public space and dunes restoration)?
Simply removing the historic building is one step in this process. Does the community – or indeed city officials – have a clear view on what will follow and what that means spatially or financially for the City? I don’t think so.
As a City, we require extensive supporting documentation for every development proposed, covering landscaping, compatibility with the wider area and phasing, among many others.
I have worked in urban planning and development for the past 10+ years, so am well familiar with the breadth of analysis and information required.
While of course the Dunes group’s proposal is not for a building, this is still a proposed development. Why would we demand less documentation of a project on City-owned land with City-owned risks?
It is the City’s and our aldermen’s responsibility to best ensure that the public good is being met. I appreciate that this has been a long process, and that many years have passed since discussions began around the issue of what to do with the Harley Clarke mansion.
However fatigue is no excuse to abandon the public good or jump to an irreversible decision. I urge community members to contact their aldermen and I urge the City and Council to proceed with caution and prudence.

Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Charles Smith

Preserve the Clarke Mansion
I am a 35 year resident of Evanston. My wife and I have raised our children here and I graduated from the first Leadership Evanston program, among one of the first Black men to do so.
I was honored as an Evanston Vision Keeper and over the years have served on many community boards and committees. In other words, I have a strong stake in this community and I care deeply about its future. That is why I want to express my strong support for the Evanston Lake House and Garden’s proposal for the Harley Clarke property.
The Ladd Arboretum Committee was responsible for the Lighthouse Park including the beach and grounds and the light house green house. I was chairman of the Ladd Arboretum Board of Directors for over 10 years. The area is controlled by a group of north Evanston residents through the Lighthouse Park District. I have intimate knowledge of the park and surrounding area.
How much access do Eighth, Second and Fifth Ward residents have to the lake?
We need to reevaluate what access to the lake really means and to support broader access for all Evanston residents, especially children.
There are many ways to experience the lake. I have visited the Harley Clarke house and taken my kids to the grounds.
As a Cub Scout leader and active with the Boy Scouts, we had many bonfires behind the house and would always walk around the building admiring its grandeur.
We have climbed to the top of the lighthouse and looked down on the Harley Clark building and grounds.
I have a special appreciation of public spaces, having grown up in a small town in southern Ohio. Our public library was in a large old building that reflected the wealth of a thriving agricultural town, a period long past.
On Saturdays all the farm families came to town and their kids filled the library to check out books. The library was valued and supported. The smell and feel of the grand old building was source comfort and community inclusiveness. I could share the lovely space with rich and poor white people, freely and unintimidated. I have always been grateful for the unique gifts that public buildings offer.
Some people in Evanston don’t need to go to the library to experience beautiful paneled walls and grand doors and windows because that is their everyday experience. They value these things for themselves but sometimes are the first to deny them to the general public. Most of the houses on the lakefront are private, closed off to the public.
But as of today, as an Evanston resident, I share ownership of a house on the lakefront with a beautiful landscape and a large beach. Like the old Pickaway County library in Ohio, it is a beautiful old mansion. My community and I share responsibility for the preservation and maintenance of this public house for now and future generations.
I have worked for many years to preserve and protect open space in Evanston. Some people, perhaps those with access to houses on the lake, see the Harley Clarke mansion as a valueless money pit.
Some may simply believe that an increase in open space, however small, is worth any cost. Some may be concerned about paying more taxes and believe that removing a valuable public house from the lakefront will be the solution.
In the years I have lived in Evanston, I’ve seen irreversible decisions made to destroy historic property (especially in the African American community) or degrade or reduce access to public land for some of these reasons.
It is ironic that just a few years ago a large area of open space on the lake front was developed by Northwestern University for new buildings and now nearby there is a proposal to create open space by removing a public building. The recent NU developments have covered a very large area. The removal of the Harley Clarke house would result in a meager addition to open space equal to the footprint of the house. Some have argued that there would be a major increase in bird habitat by doing so. This is indefensible.
I would like to suggest that the new “Dunes people” donate their money to the restoration of the landscape and grounds, to free more money for the house restoration. I want to meet friends on “my" public patio by the lake and enjoy a nice beverage and a great view. The birds will be happy and so will I.

Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Mamata Reddy

Wrong to Raze Landmarks
Mayor, City Council and editor:
I’m trying to understand what is going on with Harley Clarke and all of the negative information I’m hearing about your goals for the building. I am not understanding why it seems the Council and Mayor are rather vehemently opposed to experiential learning in our community and using the building for that?
• What is to be gained from demolishing the building?
• Is it true that this is what the wealthy neighbors of the property want, and so therefore the Council and Mayor are bowing to those requests?
• Everything that’s being said by City Hall about how the Lake House and Gardens organization failed to meet the fundraising expectation is vague and unclear. How exactly did it fail? And why such a rush to demolish it and to not allow the organization to find the funding it needs to pursue occupancy? Alderman Ann Rainey, since you are my alderwoman, I would especially like an explanation of that from you, as I understand you’re the one pushing for it to be an agenda item at the June 18 meeting, correct?
I’m perplexed that you would utilize taxpayers’ money to settle a "discrimination" lawsuit for Wally Bobkiewicz, and then continue his employment with us (a salary paid for, again, by us), but you cannot find the time or money in the budget to allow Harley Clarke to be a multipurpose building for the residents of Evanston.
According to the survey t conducted in 2015, 86% of Evanston residents support renovation and preservation of the building for public use. Are you deliberately going against what citizens of this community want? Could you please explain your rationale?
What can we do as residents and taxpayers (mine are five digits – what are yours?) to halt the destruction you seem so intent on pursuing? I cannot imagine another way that Evanston residents can show you that demolition is not what we want. I, for one, don’t trust you that you would return it to parkland.
In sum, what will you be doing to show your commitment to what the residents of Evanston want Harley Clarke to be?

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