Jackson Park was named one of Chicago’s seven most endangered buildings by Preservation Chicago, Wednesday afternoon, March 1. For the last 14 years Preservation Chicago has announced its “Chicago 7 Most Endangered Buildings List” in order to highlight buildings, structures, and other features of Chicago’s built environment that are most endangered with demolition or loss and encourage their reuse and possible restoration and renovation.
The 500-acre Jackson Park, which was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, was the site of one of the most important events in Chicago history, the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 which has been memorialized with one of the four star’s on the city’s flag.
In its report, Preservation Chicago said that the threats to Jackson Park “are three-fold and interrelated.”
According to Preservation Chicago the threats include, “The construction of the Obama Library in Jackson Park, the rehabilitation and construction of the golf course spanning both Jackson and the South Shore Cultural Center parks, and the various building proposals by Project 120 in Jackson Park.”
The high level of influence by privately held organizations such as the Obama Foundation, the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance and Project 120 and the lack of substantive community involvement concerns Preservation Chicago
“The privatization of parkland is a concern across the city, including along the lakefront and in neighborhood parks for private events,” Preservation Chicago said in its report. “The increased involvement of private groups in the management of public parkland can result in the best interests of the general public, which we believe includes the preservation of historic landscapes and structures, being severely compromised in service of the interests of a select few.”
In its report, Preservation Chicago commended Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) for publicly demanding that the Obama Foundation participate in a community engagement process as planning for the library proceeds and for working to establish an advisory council of neighborhood residents to provide her with input on future projects in the parks.
Preservation Chicago also expressed its support of the large number of community advocacy groups that have come forward to monitor the development plans for the park such as Friends of the Parks, Jackson Park Watch, and the Jackson Park Advisory Council.
Preservation Chicago hopes to obtain open dialogue with the Chicago Park District and recommends that any construction or changes proposed in the parks be conducted with sensitivity to key features and structures of the historic park landscapes. Preservation Chicago also recommends that a percentage of the millions of dollars to be invested in new park projects be earmarked for the much needed maintenance and rehabilitation of historic park structures.
To see the full report on Jackson Park