OPEN LETTER: Pavilion?  Presidential Library?  Professional Golf Course? The Call for Comprehensive Planning for Jackson and South Shore Parks

A number of Chicagoans have wondered out loud with me why Friends of the Parks is concerned about the roll out of the professional golf course proposal that is now on the table for Jackson Park.  They believe that the Obama Presidential Center’s plan to locate in Jackson Park is good for Chicago and that any attendant development in the community or park must, therefore, be good.

Other Chicagoans have expressed their chagrin that Friends of the Parks has not taken a stronger stance by filing a lawsuit to try to stop the Obama library from locating in a park.  And some haven’t understood why we haven’t voiced a public position for or against a proposed pavilion in Jackson Park.  Yet others consider it a no-brainer that we applaud the idea of closing roads that currently run through Jackson Park. But we haven’t done that.

So let me set the record straight on Friends of the Parks’ point of view about potential Obama Presidential Center-related development in Jackson Park and South Shore Park.

We still maintain that the Obama library should not be located in a park.  But if it must be so, we continue to call for the replacement of park acreage and amenities to be usurped by it.  And with many competing and uncoordinated priorities being pronounced via different entities, we have put out a clarion call for a comprehensive planning process to promote transparency, coordination, equity, and public participation.

Juanita Irizarry,
Executive Director
Friends of the Park