To the Editor:
I am deeply disappointed that the Jackson Park PAC continues to affirm the proposed PGA Golf Course plans. It was clear during the last public meeting held by the 5th Ward Alderman that numerous residents of the Southeast Side have significant concerns about these plans that have not been adequately addressed. The ETHOS (Environment Transportation, Health & Open Space) Block Club that I represent outright opposes these plans. I thought that PACs were supposed to represent the residents who use the parks, not pro golfers and tourists from elsewhere.
Southeast side residents have already given up significant acreage for the Obama Library. ETHOS believes we should not be forced to give up more, including our beloved nature sanctuary, our dog park, open space for family unions and the Chosen Few House music fest, and existing facilities for sports that our youth engage in. We also fear that the profit motive with this pro golf course will become greater and more powerful over time than any compromises, concessions, or promises that the PGA sponsors might make to us now, such as stating that our South Shore Cultural Center will remain available for resident’s utilization, that there won’t be a wall built around the golf course (a wall would prevent peepers from watching tournaments for free when hefty admission prices to watch are charged), that local amateur golfers will continue to have affordable, ready access to the course, that traffic (even with arterial street closures) and parking will be fully accommodated without sacrificing even more green space… The list of problems for those of us who live here continues. And what are the benefits? Do we really think that PGA Golfers and their fans will regularly shop at the small, minority owned businesses in our communities? These are the types of businesses we want to see proliferate in South Shore. Will PGA Golfers and their fans bring us a grocery store in South Shore, or put the young men standing on our corners into a job program? Do you really think, realistically, even for a minute, that the young caddie program that the PGA planners are touting will really help large numbers of our Southeast Side youth?
ETHOS wants change and redevelopment, just not this! ETHOS advocates for the PGA plans to be thrown out and an independent researcher brought in who would do extensive focus groups and surveys of our residents to determine what we want and need for the future of Jackson Park. We want “The People’s Park” that Obama recently described. We have lots of great ideas for self-determination but we just have not been asked. The PGA plans are so fast-tracked that opportunities for true community input are extremely limited– including input that many of us don’t want this at all. Was this perhaps part of the PGA Golf Course sponsors’ plan? Why did the Jackson Park PAC ever sign onto this without thoroughly asking the communities?
-A. Anne Holcomb
ETHOS Block Club Chair