Unit 4 board less than enthused about news of Burnham's new site

Unit 4 board less than enthused about news of Burnham's new site

CHAMPAIGN — Christopher Enck didn't save Burnham Mansion in its proverbial 11th hour.

In fact, that time had come and gone: The Winnetka preservationist, who bought the mansion from Unit 4 for $10 last month with plans to relocate it, had missed two district-set deadlines to inform officials where it would go.

But near the close of Monday night's school board meeting, the district's chief legal and financial officer, Tom Lockman, made an unplanned announcement: Enck had submitted paperwork proving he had secured a property for the mansion.

"He's encouraged me to share that location with the board tonight," Lockman said. "As we understand it, it will be 501 West Church Street — on the corner of Elm and Church."

The move from 603 W. Church would cover a short distance, but it represents the months-long efforts of hundreds of people to prevent the historic home from being demolished.

Unit 4 had planned to demolish the 134-year-old building as it stood in the way of a voter-approved, $87.1 million expansion and renovation of Central High School.

In protest, the Preservation and Conservation Association and Friends of Burnham Mansion unsuccessfully attempted to buy the property from the district after the city council voted against their request to grant local landmark status to the home.

It was Enck, a University of Illinois architecture graduate, who proposed physically moving the mansion. After selling him the building last month, Unit 4 also pledged $50,000 for moving costs, money previously set aside for the mansion's demolition.

But the two missed deadlines had embittered some board members by Monday evening.

"Deadlines have been missed, extensions have been missed — I'm not seeing a good pattern here," board Vice President Amy Armstrong said after Lockman's announcement. "We answer to taxpayers. We answer to students. I'm deeply concerned."

Kathy Richards said the board had been generous in allowing Enck to miss the deadlines without consequence.

"It is so important to get out there that we as a board have been as accommodating as we have with granting extensions and allowing extensions to be missed," she said. "This has all been to support the hard work our colleagues have put in to make this happen."

Lockman told the board he felt confident Enck understood how strict the district's timeline is and how vital it is for the Central referendum project to continue on schedule.

"I know he has an understanding of all of the different pieces of the puzzle — not only with Central but with all of our projects," Lockman said. "I know several people in town have been working with him on it. It is something we certainly intend to stay on top of."

The contract between Enck and the district stipulates that he move Burnham Mansion by July 15. Otherwise, he could be fined $2,500 per day by the district.

"I want to see this succeed, but if it isn't able to happen, I want it to be known that this district has been working to potentially make something like this happen," said board President Chris Kloeppel. "If these deadlines aren't met, we have steps in place. In some form or another, that building will be removed from that property."

The proposed future home of the mansion, 501 W. Church St., has been a vacant lot since late 2016, when the former Fleetwood Building was demolished.

That building, which dated to the late 1950s, was home to the O'Byrne, Stanko, Kepley and Jefferson law firm from 1959 until September 2015. The firm sold the building when it moved to Huntington Towers, and a demolition permit was issued in 2016.

At the time, there was talk of the lot possibly being used for condominiums or apartments, but nothing ever materialized. Multiple attempts by The News-Gazette to reach the new owner were unsuccessful.

Go figure

Unit 4 made transactions aplenty Monday. Here are a few:

74 cents

The quote for one slice of cheese, sausage or pepperoni pizza the district received from Papa John's — 14 cents cheaper than the rate in the Domino's bid. Jet's Pizza also bid to be the official pizza maker for the high schools, but "did not meet the specifications for protein per slice," it was noted. Papa John's also had the higher 'taste panel' score.

13

Years of Unit 4 middle school service by Jesse Guzman, who is being bumped up from associate principal to head principal at Jefferson. Guzman, who spent nine years teaching eighth-grade social studies at Edison, takes over on July 1 for Angi Franklin, Unit 4's new director of teaching, learning and student engagement.

$513,603

What the district will pay the MTD for busing its students to and from school and 35 neighborhoods, per the terms of the contract extension for 2018-19. Other terms of the agreement: The MTD will be required to provide transportation for 34 school trips, as well as 36 late starts and four early-outs.

Sections (2):News, Local