Taking parkland without community approval is a land grab


To the Editor:

I have lived in Hyde Park for the past 47 years. I have seen much improvement, mostly through the University of Chicago’s effort to make the neighborhood more livable with new buildings, stores and restaurants. There is a proposed addition to Hyde Park, the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) that will be a detriment to those living in the area. I was remembering the community organizer, so honestly presented in Obama’s book “Dreams from my Father”. He was a young man who wanted to help the community at the Altgeld Garden development on the South Side of Chicago. What has happened to that neighborhood in the last nine years, not much. The average household income is $19,055, the vacant housing is 30 percent. The economic, social, and educational benefits from the establishment of the OPC would benefit the Algeld Garden that lacks many of these resources. Hyde Park has an average household income of $ 60,000 and the University of Chicago is a beacon of learning, but Hyde Park is overpopulated, over-educated and in need of more parks and open spaces.

There are several issues that will negatively affect the quality of life for those of us living close to the site where the OPC is being planned. Many of these relate to the limited parking spaces available in the area. But this will also affect all those who drop and pick-up their children at the schools in the area, all those parking around the Midway and commuting downtown by Metra and all those commuting by car or bus to South Shore. At our last community meeting with the OPC planning committee an elderly woman from the Midway apartments on 59th Street complained that she will have to walk several blocks and cross several traffic lights to get to the northbound CTA bus #6 stop, instead of crossing Stony Island at 59th Street.

Taking public parkland without adequate consultation and approval of the residents who live there is a land grab by the OPC. Furthermore, there will be large costs associated with developing the new traffic pattern, with the closures and building of new lanes. Who bears the cost, who is paying? I am afraid it will be city, which means the taxpayer. I know of another place that badly needs development, jobs, educational facilities and public transportation. Mr. Obama has located it many years ago, he worked there, he wrote about it in his book, and talked about it during his presidential campaigns. The Altgeld Gardens.

-Pablo Denes