To the Editor:
Your articles the past several weeks describe the problems arising in Hyde Park because of the President Barack Obama Library plans. President Obama is a remarkable person. I feel privileged that he has been my neighbor as well as a highly capable legislator in our state government. There is no question he deserves a landmark. If it is going to be a multi-million dollar library, so be it.
Extravagant as that is, I will not stand in the way. Where I draw the line is why it has to desecrate a public park in order to be viable especially since there are reasonable options close by. The area just west of Washington Park in which there are large tracts of vacant land and which are very close to the Green Line, the Red Line and Martin Luther King Drive is very obvious. I point this out because the area chosen now, in Jackson Park, requires numerous street changes, bridges on very busy thoroughfares, which are going to cost enormous amounts of taxpayer money. Money which needs to be used to upgrade the area’s schools, after school programs, medical care, jobs, open spaces, transportation so that young people and families can live better lives with hope, dignity and justice into the foreseeable future.
Adding the high-end golf course in the park compounds the travesty. That golf course has all the smell of elitism to say little how it will further desecrate the park. The parks of Chicago are meant for all people, certainly not meant to be dominated with fancy automobiles, huge bankrolls and excessive political influence.
At the moment, everything written about the library and the golf course seems to omit concerns of the surrounding communities and asks rate payers to pay for programs which do not guarantee them better services for their children and their families. The glitz is overwhelmingly flashy. Let’s bring it back down to earth so that everybody can live with it when it becomes a reality. Keep in mind, at the same time, that there are hundreds of dangerous oil cards passing through the middle of this area containing explosive materials from the Bakkan oil fields of North Dakota. There are many new commercial enterprises which have been started and many others in the process of being built which are endangered. This has to be addressed and has not.
Alfred D. Klinger