Jackson Park Watch Update – April 16, 2018

Greetings all!

As we keep noting, a lot is happening! Here is a recent rundown:

The South Lakefront Frame Plan update – where does that stand and why does it matter?

  • The SLFP was “accepted” by the Park District Board at its 4/11 meeting.
  • As JPW underscored at the meeting – and CEO Mike Kelly agreed – it is a plan, nothing more. Although Blair Kamin’s 4/15 Tribune article painted a lovely picture of possible new future water features for Jackson Park, it also noted that the SLFP included “no price tags or funding sources” for any of the projects outlined in the plan. Note that none of the projects included in the SLFP update is dependent on any others. For example, constructing the OPC does not mean any other project – not even the proposed road changes – will necessarily move forward.
  • The Board’s acceptance of the SLFP will likely be seized on by those raising funds for the golf course and the OPC, even though the development of the plans for those projects preceded and was unrelated to the SLFP initiative.

That golf course again

A recent piece in the Tribune highlighted the Tiger Woods/President Obama connection in relationship to the golf course expansion/merger plan, old news to those who have been following the story. In fact, the project does not appear to be moving forward at present, and no actual golf course plans have been submitted to the Plan Commission for review. At the 4/11 Park District Board meeting Mike Kelly noted that “a ton of money” still had to be raised for the construction of the course, and also repeated his promise that the golf course won’t be built if the community doesn’t want it.

Obama Presidential Center promotions

The Obama Foundation has recently launched both a virtual postcard campaign and an online letter writing campaign, asking people to express general support for the Obama Presidential Center. JPW does not know of anyone who actually opposes the OPC. Rather, the devil is in the details, with so many questions and concerns related to the OPC and road plans still outstanding.

Important news: OPC to move forward even if Cornell Drive stays open

The Obama Foundation has recently invited numerous groups for one-on-one meetings, and JPW was among those invited. At our 4/5 meeting with VP for Civic Engagement Mike Strautmanis and Director of Planning and Construction Roark Frankel among others, the talk turned to Cornell Drive. Frankel repeated what we had heard long ago from Strautmanis: the OPC will be built in Jackson Park even if Cornell Drive stays open.

Replacement parkland controversy likely lies ahead

Another important note from the JPW meeting with the Obama Foundation: The Obama Foundation staff asserted that replacement parkland will be needed only for the acreage directly under the footprints of the OPC buildings, and that the rest of the OPC site will continue to be counted as public parkland. JPW and others find it hard to understand how land under a long-term lease to a private entity (the Obama Foundation) and controlled by it for purposes including construction, maintenance, security, and programming can be considered public parkland. JPW also believes that the governing principle should be that there can be no net loss of actual public parkland. Given the initial commitment by the City, albeit vaguely worded, to replace all of the public parkland used for the OPC, this is likely to shape up as another key point of disagreement.

Finally – we know what date to save – May 17!

The Obama Foundation’s virtual postcard promotion specifies that its applications to the Chicago Plan Commission – one under the Lakefront Protection Ordinance and one for rezoning – will be reviewed at the May 17 Plan Commission meeting. The CDOT roads application, also under the Lakefront Protection Ordinance, will be heard that day as well. Now we know we can plan for that date. Look for more details in early May about how the Plan Commission works and how you will be able to participate.

Donations always welcome

Thanks to all who have contributed to our work. Our study of the CDOT traffic proposal is moving along well. We have secured the services of a traffic engineer professional who is reviewing the Sam Schwartz traffic study underlying the CDOT proposal, and we anticipate having a report to share prior to May 17. We continue to benefit from expert legal assistance. It is your support that has made all this possible. Please send your checks to Jackson Park Watch, P.O. Box 15302, Chicago 60615. If you have questions about our request for support, please feel free to contact us at jacksonparkwatch@gmail.com.

Brenda Nelms and Margaret Schmid
Co-presidents, Jackson Park Watch


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