JPW Update – March 11, 2016

MOU: We now have the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the Park District and Project 120. Signed on July 15, 2014, it runs through August 2017, and gives Project 120 surprising latitude over Jackson Park in several ways:

  • It creates a Revised Jackson Park Framework Plan to replace the framework plan that was developed in 1999 through an inclusive process (see below).
  • It authorizes Project 120’s development of the “New Phoenix Pavilion and Cultural Zone.”
  • It authorizes Project 120’s development of “The Garden of the Phoenix,” defined as the area extending from the south side of the Museum of Science and Industry, around the Columbian Basin, to the north end of Wooded Island, and including the site of the original Phoenix Pavilion, the Osaka Japanese Garden, and over 120 cherry trees.

The MOU also approves Project 120’s development of plans for the “Great Lawn Project,” and specifies that CPD and Project 120 will continue to work on the development of the Revised Jackson Park Framework Plan. (You can access the MOU here; the first 12 pages contain the formal agreement.)

The MOU details only the arrangements for the US Army Corps of Engineers GLFER Project that is now underway; specifications for other projects will be defined in additional agreements. While the MOU requires Park District approval of any actual work on subsequent projects, it does not explicitly require any community input beyond normal Park District requirements for such approval, if such exist. (We are investigating just what those are).

1999 Jackson Park Framework Plan: The prior framework plan for Jackson Park was developed in 1999 through an inclusive process involving a large number of community organizations and institutions and a wide range of individuals. (You can download a 12mb copy of the framework plan here. Pages 16-18 list defined priorities; pages 36-37 and 41-43 describe the community input process and the participants. Note some pages are out of order.)

The fact that such an open and inclusive process was used in developing the 1999 plan is a key precedent. While there is some continuity between the 1999 plan and some elements of the revised plan outlined by Project 120 in the MOU, it is significant that proposals for major new projects have not been submitted for community review and approval, and that the new plan is, in essence, a top-down invention. Together the MOU and the example of the 1999 plan underscore the importance of our continuing to work to ensure community input and participation in decision-making about the plans that Project 120 has been advancing.

Coming up at this Monday’s JPAC meeting
March 14, 7:00 pm, Jackson Park Fieldhouse, 64th and Stony Island. Street parking is available

Meeting minutes: Approval of the minutes of the prior meeting will be the first order of business, and we want to ensure that the meeting minutes from January 11 accurately reflect the resolution that was passed. The motion made by Margaret Schmid and seconded by Brenda Nelms stated:

“Moved that JPAC should reconsider its vote in support of the Project 120 concept of a pavilion east of the Darrow Bridge and should provide a forum for more open discussion and community input on the pavilion concept and other aspects of the Project 120 proposals.” (moved by Margaret Schmid, seconded by Brenda Nelms.)

The draft minutes of the meeting read, however:

“As adjusted from the floor and stated from the chair: JPAC will continue to evaluate, and hold open discussions regarding Project 120 or other pavilion concepts or proposals for east of the Darrow bridge and whether to support these. JPAC also supports there being well advertised public meetings with robust input on the same.”

We simply want to ensure that the minutes are accurate.

Community input process: As indicated in our resolution, we have hoped to come to an agreement with JPAC leaders that JPAC and JPW would work with other community partners to create an inclusive community-based process to review Project 120 plans and had asked JPAC president Louise McCurry to add a relevant agenda item. Thus we were glad to see this item in a JPAC meeting reminder sent 3/10/16:

Next, Representatives from a new group, Jackson Park Watch, will introduce their organization and present ideas for robust public input in park planning, particularly Project 120 and concepts of facilities such as a visitors’ center/pavilion etc. (Persons from the Park District and Project 120 will be present but there will not be presentations or an extended q and a. An overall time will be agreed upon.)

We look forward to this discussion, and trust that you all will join in! After the meeting, we will assess next steps and will be in touch.

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