First of all, Happy Thanksgiving. We give thanks for family, friends, and neighbors and the many things that enrich our lives and bring us pleasure. On this Thanksgiving day we can also give special thanks for all of the natural beauty we enjoy in and around Jackson Park – the Park itself, the Wooded Island, Bobolink Meadow, Jackson Bark, the Nature Sanctuary at the South Shore Cultural Center, the mature trees on the designated Obama Presidential Center site, the Perennial Garden, the playing fields, and all the open natural spaces that we cherish. Please join in.
Jackson Park Watch website expanded and improved
We have just finished a major update of the Jackson Park Watch website. You can find it at (www.jacksonparkwatch.org). Among other things, it now includes:
- the latest information on the federal reviews and what comes next;
- details on the Mayor’s Obama Presidential Center Ordinance passed 10/31 and what it does and doesn’t accomplish;
- answers to the question of what has to happen before construction of the OPC can begin including the latest on the Protect Our Park lawsuit;
- information about the taxpayer-funded subsidies for OPC.
We want to flag this improved website in the event that you want to review the latest information or want to share it with friends, neighbors, organizations you belong to, or anyone who has been following the OPC saga. As we all know, this saga is NOT over!
Emanuel’s Legacy: Disregard of public parks
Although now officially a lame duck, Mayor Emanuel is continuing to prioritize private interests over public parks. The City’s actions vis-à-vis the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park continue as current Exhibit Number One. A new example is his administration’s refusal to support community demands for significant new public parkland as a part of the massive Lincoln Yards development proposed for the North Branch of the Chicago River. The Mayor’s disregard for parks has even drawn an editorial rebuke in the Tribune. One hopes the candidates seeking to succeed him will take note.
Also in the news
The Obama Community Benefits Agreement Coalition continues its spirited and determined push for an agreement that will address concerns about residential displacement and jobs. Its recent protests drew wide coverage including by the Sun-Times and Hyde Park Herald.
At a recent meeting of the 1Woodlawn community organization, reported in the Herald, Dr. Byron T. Brazier, its convener and pastor of the Apostolic Church of God, discussed plans for development in Woodlawn, stating that 1Woodlawn’s efforts will continue whether or not the OPC comes to Jackson Park. Beyond assertions of massive OPC-related economic benefits, neither the Obama Foundation nor its spin-off Emerald South have publicized specific development plans for the area to date.
A recent Letter to the Editor in the Tribune raised the possibility of a compromise to move the Obama Presidential Center forward. As many have observed, if the Obama Foundation had picked a different site (or just limited its design to its original site), construction could be well underway. Is anyone listening?
Another letter to the Tribune noted the irony of public funds being used to support roadwork for the OPC while the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield goes wanting.
We previously reported on the October 31 City Council meeting where the Mayor’s ordinances authorizing land and road changes in Jackson Park for the OPC were adopted. We think you might enjoy the Reader’s coverage of that session, which captures the full flavor of the Council’s Halloween charade: “[T]he mayor announced that it was time to turn the council’s attention to the Obama Center, ‘the only presidential library with a public library inside of it’. Whereupon—like a bolt of lightning on a dark and stormy night—rules were suspended, a roll-call vote was taken, and both OPC ordinances were resoundingly passed, 48 to zero.” Read on.
This saga is not over!
As noted above, although the City Ordinance has now passed, the federal reviews of the proposed OPC and related road changes are far from over. Your tax-deductible financial support helps us obtain the professional expertise we need to continue to raise essential questions and ensure that the public interest is served. Checks made out to Jackson Park Watch can be sent to Jackson Park Watch, P.O. Box 15302, Chicago 60615. We thank you.
Brenda Nelms and Margaret Schmid
Co-presidents, Jackson Park Watch