As autumn arrives, here are some actions you can take and information you can use to support Jackson Park and its companion parks.
Mark your calendar – Thursday, Oct. 6, 5 pm – to support the Midway Plaisance
The Park District has announced a “community meeting” for Thursday, October 6, 5:00 pm, at the South Shore Cultural Center to present the results of the 45-day comment period on its proposed redesign of the eastern tip of the Midway Plaisance and to discuss the next steps for that project.
The CPD website for the project includes both the draft design presented as of June 8 and a compendium of the comments about the design that were submitted through August 22. The comments make for interesting reading if you can download and magnify the document. The great majority of the comments (88 of 106) oppose the use of the Midway as UPARR replacement land and oppose the proposed design in all or part, objecting particularly to the removal of the small wetland.
Also available at the Thursday session will be information on the upcoming Burnham Building Restoration, the Jackson Park Plan for Interpretive Materials project, and the upcoming Washington Park Framework Plan.
Comment on a proposed new Park District ordinance before Oct. 31
The Board of Commissioners of the Chicago Park District is showing a new and refreshing responsiveness to park-user complaints. The immediate prompt for optimism is its recent response to the many complaints about large private events taking over park space and making a park inaccessible to regular users for extended periods (e.g., Riot Fest in Douglass Park, Lollapalooza and the newly authorized NASCAR race in Grant Park).
The Board has proposed amendments to Chapter VII, Section C of the Chicago Park District Code that would be codified by ordinance. The amendments would require that any permit application to use park space for an event or activity with 10,000 or more attendees per day must receive approval from the Board of Commissioners (Section C.3.c.), and would make the Board’s decision to approve or deny a permit final and not reviewable by the General Superintendent (Section C.6.a.).
The proposed amendments have been posted for a required 45-day public comment period, which will conclude on October 31, at which point the change would become effective upon approval by a majority of the Board of Commissioners.
JPW believes this is a positive step toward accountable management for the Park District and a step back from monetizing public park space as its first priority. We believe parks should be respites for people, available at all times, and not rental space for profit-making corporations. We encourage support of the amendments. However, we will suggest two additions to strengthen and clarify the proposed text:
- The text should specify that Board approval is required for an event/activity with 10,000 or more attendees per day that is proposed for any park property, regardless of the classification of that particular site within the CPD classification system. No loophole exceptions.
- In addition to the number of daily attendees, a second key criteria for assessing any large event permit request should be the length of time for which the event would make the park space inaccessible by regular park users. For instance, the time for setup before and then repairing the damage after Lollapalooza make areas of Grant Park unusable for six or more weeks during the prime season for park use. Similarly, the PGA golf tournaments envisioned for the proposed Tiger Woods golf course in Jackson Park and South Shore Park would close the course for regular public players for at least three weeks, again in the middle of an already short season. Such infringements on the use of public parks should not be acceptable.
We urge you to review these materials and to submit your own comments before Oct. 31. See the CPD notice page on its website for the text of the amendments and information about uploading your comments there or submitting them by phone, USPS mail or email.
Keep up to date on Promontory Point News
The Promontory Point Conservancy continues to push for restoration of the Point’s revetement as part of the City’s efforts to secure the lakefront shoreline. Restoration is the optimal approach from a cost perspective and also because of the Point’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
Cost Estimates: The City and Park District’s “Locally Preferred Plan” is to demolish the limestone revetment and replace it with a new concrete and steel structure (as already lines much of the lakefront). Their current estimate for this is $75M. In sharp contrast, to follow the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Preservation for a preservation design that requires repair, restoration and rehabilitation rather than demolition would cost an estimated $25M maximum.
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation: The controversy over the preservation of the historic limestone revetment at the Point has now been advanced by the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office (ILSHPO) to the ACHP. This is a significant step. The ACHP is an independent federal agency that promotes the preservation, enhancement, and productive use of our nation’s historic resources, and advises the President and Congress on national historic preservation policy. The ACHP has the authority to insist that any project follow the Secretary of Interior Standards and that design decisions are carefully considered under a Section 106 Review, and it can adjudicate between the current “Locally Preferred Plan” and the federally funded preservation study, sponsored by Representative Robin Kelly, to be done in 2023.
Keep up to date on the status of the Protect Our Parks suits against the OPC
The often-quoted maxim “Justice delayed is justice denied” would seem to be the perfect label for the suits filed by Protect Our Parks since 2018 to challenge the construction of the Obama Presidential Center. Richard Epstein, a member of the legal team for Protect Our Parks, recently summarized the case, outlining the multifaceted arguments and the frustrating delays it continues to face.
Meanwhile . . .
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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.
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