By TONIA HILL
The Chicago Park District will host a public meeting at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. Shore Dr., tonight, to discuss the proposed merger of the Jackson and South Shore golf courses. The proposal has drawn criticism for its effect on Jackson Park and the local public golf players.
Last June, at a public meeting hosted at the Cultural Center, the golf course design company, Tiger Woods’ TGR Design, introduced conceptual designs for the proposed golf course merger.
The proposal is for professional golf courses that will cost $30 million. If the proposal is approved, the present two golf courses would be transformed and combined into a single 18-hole championship course and a shorter course.
During the meeting on Wednesday, Beau Welling, senior design consultant for TGR Design will present “an updated golf routing which incorporates community feedback received during the South Lakefront Framework Plan process while maintaining Tiger Woods’ philosophy of playability for golfers of all skill levels,” said the Park District in a written statement.
“While we supported the idea of improving the golf course we oppose the golf course that is now being proposed,” said Margaret Schmid, coordinator with the citizen watchdog group, Jackson Park Watch, during a fifth ward meeting last June. “The expanded design it’s not in the existing footprint and it takes out many existing recreational areas.”
Schmid has also expressed concerns about the timeline for approval from the city on the project to renovate the golf courses.
Prominent educator Carol Adams, who is the community engagement representative for the proposed redesign, emphasized her local roots to give credibility to her support for the project, last summer. Adams, is the former president of the DuSable Museum of African American History.
“Is this all being arranged and prepared for other people? Nothing could be further from the truth,” Adams said in a previous article in the Herald.
Adams said the golf course restoration would benefit users of South Shore Cultural Center, because “the golfing will be out.” Currently, golf course operations are housed in the cultural center; in the proposed plan, they will be moved to a separate facility. Adams said this move would increase opportunities for “using the cultural center the way that those of us who fought for it thought it should be used: as a cultural center, not a wedding venue.”
Louise McCurry, president of the Jackson Park Advisory Council, supports the golf course merger. In a previous article in the Herald McCurry said on the surface, the golf complex is something that could benefit the community, young people, and Jackson Park specifically the field house, which is in need of renovation.
The public meeting is a part of the Park District’s ongoing South Lakefront Plan process, and it will include updates to the golf course plans based on feedback from the community. Community members will also have the chance to provide input on the updated plans during the meeting.
The meeting will be styled like an open house and begin at 6 p.m. and will include a brief presentation that will start at 6:15 p.m.
“During the planning and designing process, feedback from stakeholders has been essential in helping shape each aspect of the project and ensuring the development of a sustainable framework plan, and we look forward to receiving additional input from the community on the revised golf plans for Jackson and South Shore Parks,” said Chicago Park District CEO and Superintendent Michael Kelly..
The new South Lakefront Framework Plan, which will be implemented over the next 10 years, is an updated version of the 1999 framework plan that includes Jackson Park, Washington Park, and the South Shore Cultural Center.
The purpose of this project is to create a long-term plan for improvements for the parks over time it also functions as a planning tool for the community and the Chicago Park District and will become the South Lakefront Framework Plan.