By TONIA HILL
Jackson Park Watch (JPW) today announced that it has been incorporated as an Illinois nonprofit organization and is seeking tax-deductible contributions under a fiscal sponsorship agreement with Friends of the Parks.
JPW is a community-wide initiative founded by Hyde Park residents Brenda Nelms and Margaret Schmid last year. The organization consists of individuals and groups with a shared commitment to Jackson Park. Principles outlined by JPW include transparency in decision-making about the Park, meaningful community input changes to the Park, preservation of the Park as a democratic public space and development of one comprehensive plan for the entire Park.
Funds will be used to secure new legal and expert counsel expanding the scope of JPW’s work, which provides information on proposed changes in Jackson Park.
The focus according to a JPW release is the future Barack Obama Presidential Center and other related projects including road closures and realignments, a proposed parking garage, as well as the renovations to Jackson and South Shore golf courses.
“In keeping with our core priorities of ensuring community input and transparent decision-making on major matters relating to historic Jackson Park, we want to provide accurate and useful information about the review processes that lie ahead for the Obama Presidential Center as it is submitted to the Chicago Plan Commission,” said co-president Nelms in a written statement. “Retaining legal and other expert counsel will enable us to understand not only how the review processes work but how interested groups and individuals can make their voices heard so as to maximize their impact.”
JPW co-president Margaret Schmid said in a written statement that while the group welcomes change the plans should be properly addressed before work begins.
“We welcome the OPC to Chicago’s South Side and wish President Obama the best as his visionary and exciting civic engagement and community-building programs are implemented,” Schmid said. “But it is the unfortunate truth that many aspects of the OPC proposal and related proposals have generated significant community concerns that have not been addressed. We believe that it is in the best interests of the OPC itself as well as of the community that these issues are fully aired and properly addressed as the Chicago Plan Commission and other relevant reviews take place.”