University not talking straight about plans

To the Editor:

The Herald’s Oct. 2 article on the lawsuit filed by neighborhood residents who object to the university’s proposed high-rise at the McMobil site included a statement by Calmetta Coleman, director of communications for the University of Chicago’s Department of Civic Engagement. According to Ms. Coleman, there were “a series of workshops that began in 2007, and public meetings earlier this year where the majority of the people voiced their support for this particular project.”

It is particularly offensive that the university inaccurately describes the workshops it sponsored, through the Southeast Chicago Commission. I attended the last of those workshops, on April 21, 2012, at the Nichols Park fieldhouse. At the workshop, the university and its consultants were wonderfully solicitous in asking what community residents wanted to see at the McMobil site. However, they made a point of not asking what people thought of the 14-story (including mechanical penthouse) high rise they apparently were contemplating.

The fact of the matter is that the university did not publicly unveil this project until a poorly publicized TIF Advisory Council meeting on Jan. 30, 2013. It is astonishing, but not surprising, that the university continues to claim that this project was supported by this community six years before it was publicly announced.

It seems that the university is willing to say anything to create a false justification for its project. Is it capable of straight talk?

Marc Lipinski