Despite all the distractions offered by cold weather and local and national politics, the myriad questions surrounding the controversial plans for the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park, along with all the related discretionary, tax-payer-funded roadwork, continue to be out there and in need of attention.
The federal review process appears to be on deep hold. Nothing has happened since the September 17, 2018 meeting hosted by the National Park Service. No more meetings are scheduled until “early 2019.”
The Protect Our Parks federal lawsuit, meanwhile, is alive and well. The defendants, the City and the Chicago Park District, are doing everything possible to get the suit dismissed at the next hearing, February 14. We continue to believe that the lawsuit raises key issues about the propriety of using historic public parkland for what is, in the end, a private venture, and hope that the POP charges will be given a full review. To that end, we partnered with Preservation Chicago to submit a friend of the court brief to make two points: first, that the argument put forth by the City and Park District (and Obama Foundation) that there is a Chicago tradition of building museums in public parks is factually inaccurate; second, that the status of the eleven museums now situated in Chicago parks is not threatened by the POP challenge to the OPC.
You can review the contents of the Preservation Chicago/JPW brief plus two other important briefs supporting the POP suit in this good summary by The Cultural Landscape Foundation. The full texts of the briefs are accessible via the JPW website.
You may also enjoy the coverage of the lawsuit in the recent issue of the Chicago Reader.
Even if the lawsuit were to be dismissed on February 14, the federal review process is far from over and key issues remain to be resolved. We are in need of funds to continue our work. 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