Jackson Park Watch – May 27, 2016

Mark your calendar:
Community Meeting on Jackson Park
Tuesday, May 31, 6-8 pm, at La Rabida

Greetings all,

Hairston strongly supports community involvement
As Alderman Leslie Hairston announced the May 31 community meeting on Jackson Park issues at this week’s 5th Ward Meeting, she set the stage by saying “Some people outside of the community have decided it’s best that they make decisions for us… Nothing is going to happen in these parks unless we are a part of it.”  Alderman Hairston’s strong support for community decision-making on the future of Jackson Park makes it vital to have maximum attendance at the meeting. We hope to see you all there!  (For more on Alderman Hairston’s comments at the Ward Meeting, see http://hpherald.com/2016/05/25/hairston-announces-community-meeting-to-clarify-parkland-proposals/ .


“No final decisions yet” say key Park District officials
Brenda and Margaret recently met with Park District officials Michael Lange and Heather Gleason at Michael’s invitation to discuss JPW issues and concerns.  Michael, a senior project manager, has been working with Project 120 as it develops its ideas; Heather is the CPD Director of Planning and Development.  The wide-ranging discussion included a focus on three key points:

  1. Project 120’s proposed pavilion and the traffic impacts that would result from the loss of the parking lot. We were happy to hear that the Park District is not committed to the pavilion concept and that discussion of alternatives is in order.  We were told that the Park District knows that there are many community concerns about the pavilion concept.  We argued strenuously that having regular vehicular traffic across the Darrow Bridge, as proposed in the Project 120 design, would truncate the park, create traffic hazards, and be bad for the park and for park users as well.  Michael and Heather listened attentively.
  1. The rebuilding of the Clarence Darrow Bridge. This is a CDOT project, not under the control of the Park District.  It is now in phase one, feasibility assessment, which may last a full two years.  The good news? Community input will be required.  Michael Lange said he would put us in touch with the right persons at CDOT so that we can insure that the broader community can indeed have input.  The bad news?  The design and construction phases to follow could last two years more, plus or minus.  We are looking at several more years of Darrow Bridge closure, and the attendant impacts. Which brings us to issue three.
  1. The proposed installation of Yoko Ono’s “Sky Landing” piece on Wooded Island.  Project 120’s Bob Karr continues to say this artwork will be installed this summer, despite the Bridge closure, which means that adjacent parking spaces and public restrooms will be completely unavailable.  Brenda and Margaret were somewhat surprised to discover that there is no record of any approval or agreement allowing Project 120 to install this permanent piece of privately funded art in the park.  We were even more incredulous to hear that there is no Park District process requiring any public review or input relating to the permanent installation of art in the parks (there is such a process for public art elsewhere in the city, surely there should be one for parks as well!).  However, we have discovered that there does need to be a Park District Agreement on installation logistics, liability, ownership, maintenance, and the like, and an Agreement of that sort related to this piece does not exist as of May 24. [Coincidentally, Project 120 revealed the design for” Sky Landing” at an event at the Art Institute on May 24—it is to be 12 human-sized lotus petals.] We urged the Park District to take a closer look at the logistics and sequencing issues in relationship to this particular Project 120 plan.  Again, Michael and Heather listened attentively to these points.


A Note on Wooded Island
The most recent issue of the Southside Weekly has a good and somewhat unhappy article on the current state of Wooded Island and its prospects for the next few years.  While Jackson Park Watch does not focus on issues related to the U.S. Army Corps’ current work, we know that virtually everyone is interested and thus wanted to alert you to the article.   You can access it online at: http://southsideweekly.com/behind-the-fence/ .

Brenda Nelms and Margaret Schmid
Jackson Park Watch
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