Chicago Tribune – In Jackson Park, private money begins to reshape a public jewel

November 29, 2016 – Kathy Bergen

Young football players from some of the city’s most violent neighborhoods huddled with their coach in Jackson Park, their white helmets and red jerseys glowing beneath the playing field’s high-intensity lamps.

Champions in their local league, the 13- and 14-year-olds in the Wolfpack team had four days to practice for a regional competition in Tennessee. “I don’t have time to be playing around,” coach Ernest Radcliffe told his team at a recent practice. “If you don’t listen, you go home. Hey, let’s go. One lap.”

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Jackson Park Watch Special Update – November 29, 2016

Greetings all,

Just this morning the Tribune featured a major article about Jackson Park (see link below) and we want to be sure you all are aware of it.  As it happens, Tribune reporter Kathy Bergen had reached out to us as a source for information about Jackson Park and the Obama Library, and the idea of a broader article about possible changes to the park came up in that conversation.  We had several opportunities to talk with her as she developed the article, and think she did a great job of capturing the issues.

Brenda Nelms and Margaret Schmid
Jackson Park Watch
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Jackson Park Watch Update – November 28, 2016

Greetings all,

A lot has been happening since our last Update. Here are the highlights.

New restrictions on Wooded Island?

New signs went up on Wooded Island just as it was finally reopened to the public. (See photo at ) The signs list a host of new rules including:

* no fishing in the lagoons;
* no dogs on Wooded Island;
* stay on the pathways;
* no climbing on the rocks;
* don’t touch the sculpture.

We are asking JPAC to discuss these new rules at its December meeting: Who made these up, when and why? What about community input? What happened to the promise, repeatedly voiced by Louise McCurry and others, that the GLFER project would make fishing better than ever? (After all, GLFER stands for Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration.) And what!, no dogs on Wooded Island????  Interested community members might want to be there at 7 p.m., Monday, 12/12, at the Jackson Park Field House, 64th and Stony Island. There is ample street parking close by.

In addition to asking JPAC to protest these restrictions to the Park District, JPW coordinators Brenda Nelms and Margaret Schmid will take the issue to the Park District Commissioners at their monthly board meeting on December 14.

Sky Landing installation prompts more FOIAs

Some people love Yoko Ono’s Sky Landing, some not so much. Regardless, the unanswered questions surrounding how a celebrity and a private entity could get permission to install a permanent sculpture in a public park without any public involvement – not even a vote by the Park District Board! – continue to raise a host of red flags. Will we wake up one day to find bulldozers at work on the pavilion that Project 120 so desperately wants?

In a continued drive to forestall such a terrible transformation of Jackson Park, JPW has submitted a new and expanded round of Freedom of Information Act requests with assistance from attorneys at a top firm specializing in public interest law. The new FOIA requests focus on three areas: (1) terms for the installation of Sky Landing; (2) development of Project 120’s plans for the Phoenix Pavilion and of a Revised Framework Plan for Jackson Park; (3) circumstances surrounding the Memorandum of Understanding of July 2014. We will keep everyone posted.

Not-for-profit organization?

As JPW work becomes more intense and we begin to incur some significant costs, JPW coordinators Brenda and Margaret have considered forming a not-for-profit organization and soliciting contributions to allow JPW work to continue. Here, too, we will keep you posted. At this point we cannot accept any contributions due to the absence of an appropriate organizational structure.

Comprehensive planning for Jackson Park – a new initiative

JPW coordinators Brenda and Margaret have been invited to participate in an initiative led by Dr. Byron Brazier of the Apostolic Church of God to develop a single, comprehensive new plan for Jackson Park, encompassing the Obama Library and addressing its impact across the entire park.  At the first meeting, Dr. Brazier outlined a complex multi-step process to promote small group discussion and then engagement with the park’s full community. We are intrigued and hope the initiative will prove productive. At a minimum, it is another forum to advance JPW interests in community input, transparency, and preservation of as much of the Park as possible for local uses and local users.

Brenda Nelms and Margaret Schmid
Jackson Park Watch
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Sun Times: S. Side resident left out of park decisions

Your Oct. 17 piece on Yoko Ono’s sculpture in Jackson Park mentioned a $29 million investment in the park, including a new music pavilion. This pavilion is the subject of hot debate in the community.

At a May 31 meeting convened by Ald. Leslie Hairston, with Chicago Parks Supt. Mike Kelly and Wilmette resident Bob Karr, who heads Project 120, in attendance, four people spoke in favor of the pavilion while 38 spoke against it….

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Hyde Park Herald – Are we really improving Jackson Park?

To the Editor:

At a Museum of Contemporary Art concert a month ago, Tatsu Aoki advised attendees that he and his ensemble would be playing at the opening of Yoko Ono’s art installation in Jackson Park. He said it would be a gala affair, and advised potential attendees to arrive early because “thousands might be there.”

As a Hyde Park resident and neighbor of Jackson Park, I was anticipating this event. It was held on Oct. 17…”thousands” were not there. In fact, the community, as far as I know, was not alerted nor invited to the event…..

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