Mayor-elect Lightfoot seeks citizen input, shows openness on key issues
In a welcome change of pace, Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot is asking Chicagoans for ideas! We urge you all to share your suggestions, questions, and concerns, in particular in relationship to the proposed Obama Presidential Center, the costly related road changes, and the proposal to merge and expand the Jackson Park and South Shore golf courses.
Your ideas will matter as the Mayor-elect is already aware of the issues affecting Jackson Park. In another major change of mayoral tone, the day after her historic win, Lightfoot stated that she looked forward “to meeting with both sides, or multiple sides, to sit down and understand the nuances that have not been reported in the media” in relationship to the OPC.
In a subsequent interview with the Sun-Times, Lightfoot reiterated her long-stated support for a Community Benefits Agreement that would provide for affordable housing, job training and local hiring in conjunction with the OPC development. In an additional boost for the CBA, recently re-elected 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston now says she supports a CBA and newly elected 20th Ward Alderman Jeanette Taylor has long been a CBA supporter.
On yet another related issue, Lightfoot also noted in the same interview that she “not wild about” the proposed golf course merger, saying “It feels like it’s not a well-thought-out-plan.”
Golf Course forum set for April 28
Community attention to the golf course merger/expansion proposal continues to be essential. The engineering firm hired by the Park District in January is proceeding with the development of design and bid documents for the golf course expansion/merger project, even though at the same time top Park District officials have stated that no construction work on the golf course project will occur this summer.
On Sunday, April 28, between 11:45 am and 1 pm, the First Unitarian Church (5650 S. Woodlawn Ave.) will host a forum presenting the cases FOR and AGAINST creating a professional golf course in Jackson and South Shore Parks. The forum follows the regular morning church service and is open to the public. We hope many of you will want to attend.
Al Debonnett, Chair of the Jackson Park Golf and Community Leadership Alliance, will present the case FOR the pro golf course. Anne Holcomb, Chair of ETHOS (Environment, Transportation, Health and Open Space), a non-traditional block club with about 90 members from Southeast-side neighborhoods, will present the case AGAINST the pro golf course. Following a 15-minute presentation by each side, each presenter will be able to ask three questions regarding the other’s presentation. After that the forum will be opened to questions from the audience.
Discovery, depositions taking place in POP lawsuit
Despite the obstacles created by the City’s stable of lawyers, documents have been released to the Protect Our Parks legal team through the discovery process and depositions have been occurring as the POP lawsuit progresses. While POP supports having the Obama Presidential Center on Chicago’s South Side, it is contesting the City’s decision to allow it to be sited in Jackson Park.
As we have previously reported, Federal Judge John R. Blakey set April 19 as the close of discovery, a very tight timeline. He set an equally demanding schedule for the next steps in this case:
- May 3 as the date for the parties to submit motions for summary judgment, each asking the Judge to rule in its favor
- May 17 as the date for the responses to these motions;
- May 24 for the replies to those responses; and
- May 30 for a hearing on the motions.
We will continue to report on progress in this important case, raising as it does key questions concerning the responsible safeguarding of invaluable public assets such as Jackson Park.
PayPal new way to support JPW
As always, we welcome your contributions. You can now contribute in three ways:
- You can contribute via PayPal here. You will have the option of using a PayPal account or using your credit/debit card.
- You can contribute via checks made out to Jackson Park Watch and sent to directly to Jackson Park Watch, P.O. Box 15302, Chicago 60615.
- You can contribute from donor-directed funds via checks sent to our fiscal sponsor Friends of the Parks at FOTP, 17 N. State St., Suite 1450, Chicago 60602. Such checks should be made out to FOTP with a note stating they are intended for Jackson Park Watch.
Regardless of the payment method, you will receive an acknowledgement and receipt from JPW.
We thank you!
Brenda Nelms and Margaret Schmid
Co-presidents, Jackson Park Watch