AOE meetings a huge disappointment
Both the consulting party and public meetings last Monday (8/5), convened to discuss the recently released Assessment of Effects (AOE) report, were huge disappointments. (See JPW Updates for July 29 and August 1 for background information on the AOE.) Just that morning the Tribune had published a letter from JPW, underlining the gravity of the accounting of the adverse impact on Jackson Park and the Midway Plaisance of the proposed OPC and related road changes, and expressing hope for an effective review. Despite these sessions occurring under a new administration, there were no traces of the transparency, accountability, or openness to community input that we have come to expect of Mayor Lightfoot’s leadership. Thoughtful questions received rote responses or incomplete answers. Representatives from FHWA, IDOT, and CDOT essentially disregarded the AOE finding of significant adverse effects, and asserted instead that such adverse findings are routine, that the projects can still move forward, and that there will be instead alleged “improvements” to the Park.
Reports by Block Club Chicago and WBEZ captured the concerns and disappointment felt by many attendees. The City has posted a vimeo of the consulting parties meeting along with its presentation slides and other documents on its inaptly named “Jackson Park Improvements” website.
If you were there…
If you were at the meeting, you will certainly have your own assessment of the event. We urge you to write to Mayor Lori Lightfoot at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your opinion (include a cc to her Chief of Staff Maurice Classen at email@example.com and also a cc to her Director of Community Engagement Juan Carlos Linares at firstname.lastname@example.org). We also hope that you will submit a separate, more analytical comment on the AOE report itself as part of the Section 106 review process by the August 30 deadline. We will provide more information on potential points to make and where to submit your comments in the next Update.
If you were not there…
If you have enough information about the meeting to have opinions to share, we urge you to write Mayor Lori Lightfoot at email@example.com to share your opinion (include a cc to her Chief of Staff Maurice Classen at firstname.lastname@example.org and also a cc to her Director of Community Engagement Juan Carlos Linares at email@example.com). We think it is urgently important that Mayor Lightfoot hear from the many members of the community who are hoping that she will bring her legendary problem-solving skills to bear on crafting a broadly acceptable compromise to this conflict. Sadly, there was no evidence of that approach at Monday’s meetings. We urge you as well to consider submitting comments on the AOE report itself.
AOE Prompts New Filing by Protect Our Parks
The AOE report is having ripple effects beyond the Section 106 review process. Protect Our Parks, which is now at the appeal stage of its lawsuit to block the siting of the OPC in Jackson Park, has filed a new motion seeking to vacate (i.e., cancel) the ruling of June 11 that dismissed POP’s suit against the City and Park District. Noting the unequivocal conclusion in the AOE report that the OPC will have an adverse impact on Jackson Park, POP asserts that the report contains information of direct relevance to the facts of its suit, in particular to the City’s claim to be “improving” Jackson Park, that should be considered in adjudicating the case. The new motion will be considered next week, as reported in the Herald.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR DONATIONS!
Thanks to all who have recently offered financial support. As always, we welcome your contributions. You can contribute in three ways:
- You can contribute via checks made out to Jackson Park Watch sent to directly to Jackson Park Watch, P.O. Box 15302, Chicago 60615.
- You can contribute via PayPal here.
- You can contribute via checks from donor-directed funds 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.
As always, we thank you.
Brenda Nelms and Margaret Schmid,
co-presidents, Jackson Park Watch