Obama Foundation to host meeting at Hyde Park office

By TONIA HILL
Staff Writer

The Obama Foundation will host a meeting at its Hyde Park headquarters, 5235 S. Harper Court, on Wednesday, Dec. 20, at 6:30 p.m. The meeting, which appears to be invitation only will focus on possible new ideas to the foundation’s above ground parking garage proposal that is situated on a portion of land on the Midway across the street from future home of the Obama Center.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported on Monday that the design team has been reworking plans for the parking garage and on Wednesday the foundation will show a presentation including new design options for the parking garage.

The proposal which was unveiled in August would be above the grade of the present parkland at the eastern end of Midway Plaisance between 59th and 60th streets and Stony Island Avenue and the Metra Tracks, and would be able to hold about 400-450 cars.

The facility will be covered and surrounded by a 3-4 acre park open to the public for use and include a picnic area, a children’s play area and other amenities. The structure would also include off-street bus drop-off and pick-up, bicycle parking, and a connection to Metra.

Residents and park preservationists have been vocal about their opposition to the proposal on what is historic and publicly owned land. Groups such as the Midway Plaisance Advisory Council and the campaign to Save the Midway have been actively pushing back against proposal.

The MPAC, in October, voted to adopt a resolution outlining their stance on the proposal during a meeting. As stated in the resolution the MPAC opposes having the parking garage on the Midway and transferring Midway land to private entities.

MPAC members through the resolution urged the foundation, the city of Chicago, the Chicago Park District and the University of Chicago, who proposed the center’s location on the South Side to find an alternative site for the parking garage.

Micheal McNamee and Karen Rechtschaffen, Hyde Park residents, launched the Save the Midway campaign in October in response the Obama Foundation’s proposal.

They are urging the public through the campaign to take action to protect the vision of Frederick Law Olmstead who designed the park, to protect this national treasure on the National Register and to reject the parking garage and bus terminal proposals.

Save the Midway created petitions to keep the Midway open and clear parkland, free of a parking garage.

The group has also over the last two months collected signatures online, in person, and through a virtual postcard opposing the parking garage.

t.hill@hpherald.com