Jackson Park Watch Update – October 20, 2019

Greetings, all!

In this Update:

  • Next step in federal review of OPC postponed
  • Who is on the ACHP, the federal agency responsible for the Section 106 federal review?
  • The Obama Foundation’s invitation-only “Importance of Place” summit
  • South Shore Nature Sanctuary Stewardship Team wins award 
  • POP appeal brief to be submitted soon

Next step in Section 106 review of OPC postponed once more

The consulting party webinar meeting on the proposed Assessment of Effects (AOE) report that was set for next Wednesday, October 23, has now been postponed.  That session itself was originally set for September 23, as the follow-up on the public meetings held August 5.

Consulting parties learned the news in a message from the City on October 18 that said:

Thank you for your continued patience as we prepare for the next steps of the Section 106 process. Originally, we planned to host a webinar to update Consulting Parties on changes that would be made to the Assessment of Effects that would have been followed by issuing the revised document a few weeks later. We realize now, that it would be better for everyone if the revised Assessment of Effects were available in advance of the webinar so that the conversation can be well informed.

Therefore, we are cancelingthe webinar scheduled for next Wednesday (October 23) and will be sending additional communications shortly with a new webinar date and the accompanying documents for your review.

JPW anticipates that the revised AOE report will be available for an additional 30-day review period by the consulting parties.   Consulting parties’ concerns and disagreements with the proposed final report would then be resolved via discussions with the FHWA or, if those discussions were unsuccessful, by review by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP).  Once all disagreements about the text of the AOE report are resolved, the review process will then move on to discussions of how to resolve the adverse effects. 

The initial draft AOE report, released July 29, found that the OPC plan as currently proposed would have significant adverse effects on Jackson Park.  This central finding prompted significant criticisms by numerous consulting parties who, while agreeing with the central finding, argued that additional important issues and potential adverse effects had been ignored or misrepresented. Veterans of the Section 106 review process have suggested that comments in the 8/22 letter from the ACHP are the reason that the webinar has been scheduled and that additional opportunities for consulting parties to have input into the AOE have been provided.

As always, we will continue to keep you posted.

Who is on the ACHP? 

Until recently, few readers of JPW Updates had heard of  the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, an independent federal agency created by the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act to help ensure that federal agencies do not inadvertently destroy or harm landscapes, properties, buildings, or other crucial aspects of our nation’s cultural and historic heritage as they carry out their operations.  The ACHP’s mission is as follows: “ The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation promotes the preservation, enhancement, and sustainable use of our nation’s diverse historic resources, and advises the President and the Congress on national historic preservation policy.”

The ACHP has an experienced, professional staff that handles most ACHP business, the Council deals mainly with issues of policy or with the rare problematic cases that the staff has been unable to resolve.  The Council itself has 24 members designated by statute.  Questions have recently been raised as to who is on the ACHP and when they were appointed.  Here is the breakdown of the current Council members, taken from the ACHP website.

  • Four members of the general public and four historic preservation experts including the chair and vice-chair are appointed by the President.  Of these eight, only one, the chair, has been appointed by President Trump; the seven others were appointed by former President Obama during his term in office.
  • A member of an Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization, a governor, and a mayor are also appointed by the President.  Of these three, one is in place, and that individual was appointed by former President Obama.  The other two positions, those of governor and mayor, are currently vacant.
  • Two federal agency heads (Agriculture and Interior) are permanent members along with the Architect of the Capital.
  • Seven federal agency heads are designated by the President.  These are currently the heads of the General Services Administration; Defense; Transportation; Homeland Security; Housing and Urban Development; Education; and the Veterans Administration.  Each of these agencies has a federal preservation officer.
  • Additionally, there are ex officio representatives of three national preservation organizations selected directly by the organization they represent:  the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers; the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers; and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Obama Foundation’s “Importance of Place” summit

JPW readers may have seen some news references to the Obama Foundation’s third summit, an invitation-only event to be held in Chicago on October 28 and 29 with the theme “Places Reveal Our Purpose.” 

Media releases indicate that the event, to be held on the near South Side, will include young leaders from around the world and participants of programs run by the Obama Foundation. Officials say the summit will show how the Obama Presidential Center “connects to a growing global network of leaders.” 

JPW and others commend the Obama Foundation for the leadership training programs it has begun.  It is worth noting that these have flourished without needing a facility in Jackson Park.  Indeed, in keeping with the “global network” focus of Obama Foundation programming, these have taken place in a wide variety of places around the globe.

South Shore Nature Sanctuary Stewardship Program wins FOTP award

The South Shore Nature Sanctuary Community Stewardship Program, under the able leadership of Susannah Ribstein with co-steward Jerry Levy, was recently recognized by Friends of the Parks with one of its 2019 VIP (Volunteers in the Parks) Awards.    Congratulations to the Nature Sanctuary Stewardship Team!

Those not already familiar with the Nature Sanctuary may wish to explore the following links, among the many sources of information about this marvelous natural area.  Even better, make a visit!



Unfortunately, plans for a merged/expanded PGA-level golf course would destroy the Nature Sanctuary as it currently exists.  Those plans would slice off the Sanctuary’s lakefront access and eliminate the popular council rings in order to install a green and fairway for the “money hole” at the far east end of the Nature Sanctuary.  Surrounded by golfing activity on three sides, the much-diminished prairie space would no longer be a “sanctuary”  for fellowship or solitude.  And, despite the assertions of the golf plan’s advocates, the idea of adding new natural plantings elsewhere on the golf course – in elongated space between fairways – does not approach a fair tradeoff. This threat to the Nature Sanctuary has generated massive community opposition to the golf course expansion plan (to learn more, see http://jacksonparkwatch.org/golf-course). 

POP appeal brief to be submitted by October 25

Regular Update readers will recall that an appeal to Judge Blakey’s June 12 dismissal of the Protect Our Parks challenge to the siting of the Obama President Center in Jackson Park was filed on August 7 .  The POP legal team, led by U Chicago law professor Richard Epstein, will file the brief outlining the appeal by next Friday, October 25.  We will provide more information when it is available.


As always, we welcome your financial support.  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, ATTN Kyla Williams.  Such checks should be made out to FOTP with a note stating they are intended for Jackson Park Watch. 

Once again, we thank you.

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