Greetings, All:  

Our last Update (on Halloween) ended with encouragement to “stay tuned, but don’t hold your breath.”  That particular reference was to the review by the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit of the lawsuit filed by Protect Our Parks challenging the processes by which a large slice of Jackson Park was awarded to the Obama Foundation in 2018.  We are still awaiting that judicial ruling.  But there is other movement regarding changes to Jackson Park and the Midway Plaisance that merits your attention now.

Save the date for a Zoom meeting:  Wednesday, March 6, 6:00 pm

Last Friday evening, the Chicago Park District issued the following notice (reproduced in full here; online link to CPD website):

The public is invited to learn about upcoming park enhancements 

The Chicago Park District will provide construction updates in Jackson Park and Midway Plaisance Park in the Hyde Park community area.

A community meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday, March 6th at 6 p.m. where the Chicago Park District will provide an online construction update on various capital projects including the following: 

•    Iowa Building Construction
•    Burnham Building next phase
•    Osaka Garden bridge/maintenance
•    East Midway Plaisance Playground
•    Additional Park enhancements

WHEN:          Wednesday, March 6th at 6 p.m.

WHERE:        Public Virtual Community Meeting. Pre-register and log-in here.         

MORE:           For updates, follow the Facebook Event listing.

We encourage you to participate, as it is always best to hear directly from the horse’s mouth.  We are unclear on the format – whether it will be a controlled presentation or an open forum – but we are encouraged by the indications that the session has been arranged at the request of 5th Ward Alderman Desmon Yancy.   When you pre-register, there are instructions for submitting questions in advance to Alderman Yancy’s chief-of-staff (charleskkyle@gmail.com), and you should take advantage of that option.   

Fodder for discussion of the East Midway Plaisance Project

JPW submitted a FOIA request to the Park District in mid-January, seeking information about the planned construction on the eastern tip of the Midway that had captured so much of our attention in 2023.  We requested a copy of the RFP – issued in the fall –

that laid out the specifications for the construction of a universally accessible playground, draining of the wetland and other changes to the site, and we requested a copy of the contract with the selected vendor.  The deadline for bids was October 18 and the projection was that actual construction work would begin in the first quarter of 2024, so we assumed both of these public documents would be readily available.  

Government agencies are supposed to respond to FOIAs within five working days, but as is not unusual, CPD dragged its feet, asking for several extensions on the grounds that the records were stored elsewhere and, once found, would require special examination to determine if they were exempt from disclosure.  In the meantime, in early February, as many observed and the Herald reported, work crews cut down several trees on the site, presumably marking the start of the construction phase.   

It was then a puzzlement when the CPD finally responded to our FOIA request on February 20 by providing not the RFP nor a final contractor agreement, but rather only a brief notice that had been sent to all bid respondents in the General Contracting Pool on January 8.

Pursuant to Proposal Information, Section III. J, of the RFP, the Chicago Park District has decided to cancel the RFP and will not pursue development of the above-mentioned project as currently scoped. 

So, what’s up?  We hope the March 6 community meeting will provide answers to some obvious questions:  Why the secretive cancellation?  Why the tree-cutting?  Will the Midway project be re-scoped, or will it be abandoned in toto?  Will another site be found to actually replace the UPARR-protected acreage consumed by the OPC (as we and many others have long advocated)?  Will there be another round of community meetings to develop new plans for the Midway tip?  

Stay tuned.



Thanks to all who have supported us financially.  As always, we 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

Comments are closed.