To the Editor

To the Editor:

Just a note of thanks and congratulations for Tonia Hill’s recent writing of the award-worthy article about the Chicago Park District Jackson Park Golf Course Restoration. Many thanks to Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) and Chicago Park District CEO Mike Kelly for leading numerous community meetings, resulting in unprecedented community involvement in the process.

The Hyde Park Herald’s February 7th article was extremely well balanced and captured the positive energy exhibited by all in attendance.

The Jackson Park Golf & Community Leadership Advisory Council supports the Chicago Park District’s restoration efforts. Our organization comes out of the community’s request for Alderman Hairston to convene an advisory board to represent the interests of the community, made up of members from the Jackson Park, South Shore, Woodlawn and Hyde Park communities. The Board represents thousands of Jackson Park area residents and continues to share information among its members and actively participates with the Chicago Park District regarding all issues and proposed changes to the entire Jackson Park footprint.

Thank you for giving local Junior Golf champion Abdel Raoul a chance to express the perspective of our youth. It was great to hear from the next generation who will inherit stewardship of the Park and not just from non-golfers or those who contribute little to the daily needs of our community youth.

Your front page highlight of First Tee of Greater Chicago spotlights what’s really at stake with the restoration of Chicago’s only 18 hole municipal and more than century old golf course. Besides, why would anyone listen to arguments from those opposed to such long overdue and essential revitalization, when they have no concern for or have no history of providing programs serving area youth.

Moreover, I believe Frederick Law Olmsted would be troubled by any lack of public empathy for people living in the 21st century and beyond, including those with disabilities who would benefit greatly from the golf course restoration. In fact, The ADA federal statute compliance provides a more compelling argument for long overdue restoration.

Even more compelling, First Tee of Greater Chicago has reached more than 50,000 Chicago area youth since 2002. Much needed golf course restoration could provide college scholarships and employment opportunity for thousands more! That’s a story worth sharing with the Jackson Park community and the City of Chicago, not publication of musings by a few disgruntled people who possess no such resume or propose no other viable program alternatives for our young people.

Referencing many examples from the past, history will treat those who oppose this much-needed revitalization and restoration harshly, in the face of such overwhelming need and promising opportunity.

Remember, the world is watching for leadership from Chicago once more. So don’t let them think that small mindedness, inter-generational callousness or elitism by a few area residents prevails within the city rebuilt from the ashes and that looked forward, once touting mantras of “The Century of Progress” and “Make No Small Plans!”

Al DeBonnett, Chairman
Jackson Park Golf & Community Leadership Advisory Council