By LINDSAY WELBERS
Mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia said he does not support using public land in Washington Park for the Obama Library.
In a statement released Tuesday Garcia, a former alderman and current commissioner on the Cook County Board, said he opposes granting 20 acres of parkland for the Obama Library and that it is not necessary or in the public interest.
“As one of our public park system’s most cherished resources, Washington Park is a vital access point for recreation, play and the solace that comes from the natural – rather than built – environment. And along with all of our public parks, Washington Park belongs to the people as a free, open and critical antidote to the concrete and brick that dominates so much of our cityscape for so many of our residents,” Garcia said in a statement.
The University of Chicago proposed using more than 20 acres of land in Washington Park for the library. Garcia did not issue a statement on the more than 20 acres in Jackson Park the school proposed for the library.
“The people of Chicago are rightly opposed to encroachment on their public parklands. Yet, Mayor Emanuel wants to allow a private institution to confiscate land they do not own: people’s land. This proposal was created behind closed doors under a veil of secrecy with no formal input from either park advocates or the public. Now, the mayor is collaborating with its proponents to push this land grab – just as he supports a land grab for his friend George Lucas on Chicago’s public lakefront,” Garcia said.
He said he supports an effort to bring the Obama library to Chicago but that the city does not need to raid public assets to do so.
“Our leaders should be stewards of our parks’ continued survival. Instead, Mayor Emanuel has broken the fundamental public trust by supporting this unnecessary land grab. That’s the mark of a mayor who neither understands nor cares about our people and their public assets. I reject that position. The parks belong to all of us, and I stand with the growing public campaign to keep it that way,” Garcia said.
The City of Chicago will host two public hearings about using parkland for the Obama Presidential Library.
The first meeting will be held tonight 6 p.m. at Hyde Park High School, 6220 S. Stony Island Ave. It will address the Jackson Park proposal specifically.
A second hearing will be held at noon Wednesday at the Washington Park Field House, 5531 S. Martin Luther King Dr.