Greetings, All:

Jackson Park and the surrounding circle of public parks are a hotbed of activity.  Historic Jackson Park is being disrupted (which is to say, destructed and totally remade by the imprint of the Obama Presidential Center and attending road work), but there are challenges all around that also require attention and engagement.

Jackson Park

  • The Obama Foundation and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) are busy levelling trees, digging deep holes, and preparing to slice off wide swaths of Jackson Park to expand DuSable Lake Shore Drive and Stony Island Avenue.  Their presentations to the 5th Ward’s monthly meeting in February and March placed great emphasis on the worthy but short-term positive effect on local employment during the construction phase and ignored the long-term consequences for park users of removing playing fields and denuding the landscape of mature trees for the coming decades.
  • The lawsuit and related motions filed by Protect Our Parks and its co-plaintiffs to challenge the federal review process that allowed the work to begin in Jackson Park remain in limbo at both the district and appellate levels, even though the suit was filed before the City had handed over Jackson Park to the Obama Foundation. 
  • Speaking up for the trees is SaveJacksonPark.org, which is sponsoring a petition for an advisory referendum on the June primary ballot to stop tree removal in Jackson Park and South Shore Cultural Center Park with particular focus on the damage to be done by the proposed Tiger Woods golf course.  
  • Meanwhile, at its March meeting, Jackson Park Advisory Council leaders avoided consideration of issues confronting current park users by proposing to limit discussion of  “Old Business” and “New Business” to 3 minutes each and then summarily adjourning the meeting before even reaching that point on the agenda.  Henry Martyn Robert must be spinning in his grave.

Park District to present planned changes to Midway Plaisance at Community Meeting

The Park District has scheduled a “Community Meeting” for Tuesday, March 29, 5:30-7:00 pm, to present its plan for “Midway Plaisance East End Improvements.”  The plan results from the decision by the City to designate the eastern tip of the Midway (between the Metra tracks and Stony Island) to “replace” some of the parkland in Jackson Park that is being lost to the Obama Presidential Center.

The posting on the Park District website for the Midway Plaisance implies that the meeting will be at the Midway field house, but it will actually be an on-line webinar via Zoom, and advance registration is required to receive the log-in instructions  and other information. There will be an initial slide-show presentation followed by a Q&A session.  We are told that the Q&A will be managed primarily through the chat function, but there will be an opportunity for direct oral questions or comments by participants unable to use the chat function. Comments on the project can also be submitted directly to the Park District on the Capital Project Feedback Form for Midway Plaisance East End Improvements

The CPD plan was already presented at Alderman Hairston’s 5th Ward meetings in February and again in March, and that presentation is available for viewing. The segment on the Midway project is found at minutes 43:30-55:00.

In the previous Update we addressed the nonsensical and controversial plan and its development in opposition to the expressed wishes of the Midway Plaisance Advisory Council.  To those concerns and criticism we should add the issue of a timetable that  does not take into account either the pending renovation of the adjacent 59-60th St. Metra Station or the adjacent roadwork being undertaken by CDOT to accommodate the OPC.  Comprehensive planning and coordination are needed, not blinkered project management with a slice and dice approach. 

We urge you to participate in the Community Meeting to voice your own concerns, questions, and suggestions.  After the meeting,  you may want to submit additional and more complete comments on the Capital Project Feedback Form.

Limestone Rocks   

Preservation Chicago recently selected  Promontory Point as one of the Chicago’s most endangered historic sites for 2022  because of the continued threat to the Point’s historic limestone revetment and landscape, which was designed by Alfred Caldwell, one of the greatest of Prairie School landscape designers.  The City and Park District–ignoring the Point’s inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places–aim to replace (rather than repair) the still solid, still usable and still cost-effective limestone rocks with the uninviting and less-durable textured concrete steps that now line much of the lakefront.   At the 5th Ward meeting on March 22, Alderman Leslie Hairston criticized the City’s failure to listen to the people in the community and restated her strong support for preservation of the limestone revetment.  U.S. Representative Robin Kelly and State Senator Robert Peters have also expressed their support for preservation.  More on the threat to this popular destination can be found on the Promontory Point Conservancy website.

A Respite for All

Supporters of the South Shore Nature Sanctuary,  soon to celebrate its 20th anniversary at the South Shore Cultural Center, have established a useful website to share information about its history, flora and fauna, events, and volunteer stewardship opportunities.


Thanks to all who have supported us financially.  As always, we will welcome your contributions.  If you have any questions about contributing, please contact us at jacksonparkwatch@gmail.com and we will get back to you.

You can contribute in three ways:

  • You can contribute via checks made out to Jackson Park Watch sent directly to Jackson Park Watch, P.O. Box 15302, Chicago 60615. 
  • You can contribute via PayPal here.  (If you encounter difficulties with PayPal, please let us know.)
  • You can contribute via checks from donor-directed funds sent to our fiscal sponsor Friends of the Parks at FOTP, 67 E. Madison St., Suite 1817, Chicago  IL 60602, ATTN Kevin Winters.  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 Jack Spicer
Co-presidents, Jackson Park Watch