Jackson Park Watch Update – July 1, 2017

Greetings, all,

Latest news: Alderman Hairston has scheduled the promised follow-up to last Tuesday’s over-capacity “Community Conversations” meeting for Thursday, July 13, at 6:00 p.m. at the South Shore Cultural Center. If you haven’t yet been to one of the “Community Conversations” meetings, be there! If you have been already, be there! Bring your family, friends, and neighbors. A huge turnout is vital. Be ready to make your voice heard!

Other Topics Today:
Media coverage of the “Community Conversations” meetings to date
The golf course proposal
Traffic and parking issues
The Process: Was it really “listening” and were these really just “concepts”?

No doubt many of you were at one or more of the “Community Conversations” meetings just concluded. Well over 1,000 community members participated, not including the estimated 160 who were turned away due to what the Hyde Park Herald referred to as a scheduling “mishap” at this past Tuesday’s meeting. (Alderman Hairston pledged to hold another meeting, and, as noted above, it is now scheduled for July 13. ) For those who weren’t there or want to review the presentations, go to www.southlakefrontplan.com and look under “Project/Documents” for the slide shows that were presented at the three meetings, including the much expanded golf course proposal, the Obama Presidential Center site plan, and planned road closures and “improvements.”

Media coverage

The series of meetings received much media attention. You may want to check these links below.

  • Blair Kamin’s thoughtful commentary on the continuing lack of coordination in planning for Jackson Park and its negative consequences.
  • Expressions of concern about the golf proposal’s threat to the nature sanctuary at the South Shore Cultural Center.
  • Community concerns about the proposed obliteration of Jackson Bark by the expanded golf driving range.
  • Coverage in the Tribune and the Herald of the chaotic Tuesday meeting where the turnout greatly exceeded the capacity of the meeting space.

 Expanded golf course proposal

As the meetings progressed and community concerns about the much expanded golf course proposal and its impact on existing natural areas and recreational facilities became clear, Jackson Park Watch took a stand against the golf proposal as it now stands, releasing this statement to the Tuesday 6/27 meeting:

“While supporting the idea of improving the existing golf course, Jackson Park Watch opposes the massively expanded golf course proposal that goes far beyond the current golf course footprint and would take out the nature area adjacent to the South Shore Cultural Center, two basketball courts, two sets of tennis courts, a soccer playing field and a baseball diamond, as well as the area’s only dog park, Jackson Bark.”

We have prepared a fact sheet (see attachment below) providing significant detail about the golf course proposal and its many problematic aspects. We encourage you not only to take a look but also to share it widely and to write or call City and Park District officials if you share JPW’s concerns.

Traffic and parking

More information about proposed road closures and “improvements” was released over the series of meeting by Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld. While the list of proposed closures and “improvements” was lengthy, actual details about the changes, the costs and who would pay, the timing, impacts on traffic circulation and parking arrangements in the park and beyond, and other key matters were few and far between.

While JPW knows that the traffic studies are complete and under review by the Park District and others, they have not been released to the public. Consequently, JPW has created a traffic and parking fact sheet (see attachment below). Again, we encourage you to take a look, share it widely, and, if you agree, call or write the people listed.


Each of the “Community Conversations” meetings started with a welcome statement from either Deputy Mayor Andrea Zopp (Wednesday 6/21), another representative of the Mayor’s office (Saturday 6/24), or Park District Vice-President Avis LaVelle (Tuesday 6/27), all insisting that “we are here to listen” and that what the audiences would be hearing were “concepts,” not done deals. However, the presentations seemed to many to be finished products (despite the absence of detail), while the “listening” portions of the first meetings were heavily managed, asking audience members to respond to set questions and forced-choice options rather than soliciting actual opinions and alternate ideas. Alderman Hairston conducted the “input” segment of the Tuesday meeting in her own free-wheeling style, but there was not time or format for substantive discussion. South Siders being who we are, many in the audiences offered independent opinions and suggestions at all three meetings. But what comes next?

The schedule for development of the South Lakefront Framework Plan, as presented, runs from June to November and is comprised of four vaguely described phases. The first phase was the three (now to be four) “Community Conversations” scheduled with little advance notice and lacking in real details. As of last Tuesday, however, the City and Park District did not yet have a plan for the next step in the planning process – no information about the format, timing, location, or frequency of the public discussions that are absolutely essential for the definition of a collective vision for the future of Jackson Park. Jackson Park Watch continues its call for an open, transparent, and inclusive process that brings all stakeholders to the table in multiple, small-group sessions with full information about options and costs to consider the “concepts” that have been proposed.

Brenda Nelms and Margaret Schmid

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