Jackson Park Watch Update – June 10, 2016

Greetings all!

This Update is devoted in the main to follow-up on the very successful May 31 meeting that so many of you participated in. Thanks to all of you who were there along with so many others from the community.

On behalf of JPW, we have sent an open letter to Alderman Hairston with a copy to the Hyde Park Herald Letters to the Editors, thanking her for convening and leading the meeting (see below). We encourage any of you who want to share your own comments about the meeting to communicate directly with Alderman Hairston (ward05@cityofchicago.org) and/or with the Herald (Letters@hpherald.com ).

Thanks to Alderman Hairston!
An open letter to Alderman Leslie Hairston from Jackson Park Watch

Dear Alderman Hairston,

Jackson Park Watch wants to thank you for convening and leading the May 31 community meeting on the future of Jackson Park. The fact that over 170 residents from communities surrounding the park came out on a very wet and stormy night to listen to and question Park District CEO Michael Kelly and others indicates the depth and breadth of interest in and concern about the proposals for the future of our park that have been promoted by Project 120.

We congratulate you especially on a well-run meeting that, in spite of the overflow crowd, allowed participants to give voice to questions on a variety of issues representing many points of view — the history of Project 120, the role of the Park District, the scale and location of the proposed Phoenix Pavilion (including whether any new structure is needed at all), concern about loss of trees, green space and parking, as well as about the fates of the golf course and driving range, basketball court, and tennis courts, among them.

We are particularly pleased that the meeting provided the community with clarifications on some key concerns:

  • Contrary to Project 120’s recent presentations, traffic over the restored Darrow Bridge will be limited to pedestrians, bicycles, and emergency vehicles only. There will not be a road for regular automobile traffic leading over the Bridge with parking along both sides.
  • The pavilion proposal is a concept, not a done deal.   Because the idea of a road across the Bridge is off the table, there is a great opportunity to revisit not only the proposed location of this pavilion (on the current parking lot), but also its size and scope. A relocated, down-sized, simplified pavilion could far better align with community views.

We are grateful that you are committed to working with Mr. Kelly to develop a procedure and process for community input that will fully represent the Jackson Park community in all its diversity. The May 31 meeting was a great step toward that goal, and, once again we thank you.

Thanks to the Park District as well

As a second follow-up to the May 31 meeting, Margaret appeared at the monthly meeting of the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners to give a two- minute statement in the “People in the Parks” part of the meeting (and yes, it was timed!). The Park District generally videos these meetings, so the statement may eventually appear on video at https://chicagoparkdistrict.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx – scroll down to find the 6/8/16 meeting. Note that Brenda was out of town.

Here’s a summary of the JPW presentation. We also gave a hard copy of a longer version with more detail and relevant attachments to the individual commissioners and CEO Kelly.

  1. We thanked CEO Mike Kelly and other staff for participating, for taking off the table the Project 120 proposal for a one-way road for regular automobile traffic across the Darrow Bridge with parking along each side, and for committing to further dialogue with the community in conjunction with Alderman Hairston.
  2. We reported significant community concerns with Project 120’s proposed pavilion, including the loss of picnic and parking space, loss of trees, threats to birds, and noise. We observed that since the idea of a road across the Bridge with parking along both sides had been taken off the table, there was an excellent opportunity for a revised design of a downsized, relocated, simplified pavilion more in keeping with the wooded nature of the park and community concerns.
  3. We noted that another opportunity to preserve trees and green space would be to redesign Project 120’s proposals for the Music Court and “Great Lawn” to limit the loss natural area.
  4. We noted that it is very surprising that the Yoko Ono “SkyLanding” piece would be installed on Wooded Island at a time when, due to the closure of the Darrow Bridge, there would be no access to adequate parking or public restrooms. (In the expanded version, we also pointed to potential problems with the piece attracting graffiti and climbers, and questioned whether it would need to be fenced. A rendering of the piece is included in the Hyde Park Herald’s original online coverage of the May 31 meeting, see http://hpherald.com/2016/06/01/proposed-music-pavilion-the-focus-of-discussion-at-jackson-park-planning-meeting/.)

Finally, in conclusion we made two requests:

“We ask that the Park District work with Alderman Hairston to ensure a transparent and inclusive process for community review of a revised Project 120 proposal aligned with community concerns; and that the Park District delay the installation of the Sky Landing sculpture until the Darrow Bridge is reopened.”

JPAC meeting Monday 6/13
7 p.m., Jackson Park Field House, 6401 S. Stony Island Ave.

As you may recall, at its June meeting JPAC will consider a proposal to change its by-laws concerning the requirements for voting. Currently one can vote when attending a second meeting within the span of 12 months; the proposed revision would increase the attendance requirement to four meetings. If this proposed change is an issue on which you wish to weigh in and you are qualified under the current two-meeting rule, please come to meeting so that your vote for or against can be counted. We will be there.

Brenda Nelms and Margaret Schmid
Jackson Park Watch
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