Last week we wrote an editorial regarding the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) meetings at the South Shore Cultural Center on Aug. 23 and Aug. 24. We expressed hopes that since both the Obama Foundation and the Chicago Park District confirmed that the Barack Obama Presidential Center and the Jackson Park and South Shore golf course redesign projects were separate that we would see separate roadway plans for each project. While there were many roadway redesign options presented, they all had the two projects tied together.
The Herald contacted the Chicago Department of Transportation a few days after the first meeting to find out if there were ever roadway plans drawn up that separated the presidential center plan from the golf course plan. There were none.
During last week’s roadway presentations, we were told there would be a gain of parkland, about three to five acres, by closing Cornell Avenue and other streets (see maps on pages 12 and 13 of today’s paper) But the changes call for more asphalt elsewhere in the park. The changes proposed include adding a lane to southbound Lake Shore Drive. The lane would be about 11 feet wide taking land from the park on its east edge. The plan also includes adding two lanes to Stony Island Avenue. The lanes would take up about 20 feet of parkland at its west edge.
We need more details on exactly how much park space will be used and what the completed project will look like. Without transparency, community inclusion, and a clear vision, people often become frustrated and act out in interesting ways.
In 1963, local residents chained themselves to trees to stop the relocation of Lake Shore Drive through Jackson Park. Could we be heading there again? Currently, almost every week the Herald is told about new community-based groups being formed to advocate for residents’ voices to truly be heard or to preserve the natural landscape of the park.
Another issue that remains unanswered in regard to the intertwining of the roadway redesign plan is exactly how much the project will cost and how much will be covered by the Obama Foundation and private donors and how much will be covered using taxpayer dollars.