Midway Plaisance Advisory Council issues resolution to protect green space in Jackson Park

By AARON GETTINGER
Staff Writer

Because of money received decades ago from a now-inactive federal urban parks program, any recreation space lost due to the construction of the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) in Jackson Park must be replaced. Earlier this month, the Midway Plaisance Advisory Council (MPAC) issued a resolution announcing opposition to the repurposing of any open or treed green space for these ends on the Midway or in Jackson Park.

The resolution also strongly urged the preservation of the eastern section of the Midway, between the IR embankment and Stony Island Avenue, continue to be maintained “as an open meadow with flexible use.” It has previously been suggested as a site for a replacement recreational space. MPAC also advocated for “broad community input” in the process of finding replacement recreational spaces.

MPAC’s resolution included several findings of fact, including mention of the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed Midway’s purpose in connecting Jackson and Washington parks, that the Midway’s 2000 Park District framework plan remains in place and that the OPC construction-spurred federal Section 106 and NEPA environmental and historical reviews are ongoing.

MPAC President Bronwyn Nichols Lodato said the resolution was adopted at the Council’s Aug. 8 meeting and shared with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the municipal departments of Planning and Development, Transportation and Police, Ald. Sophia King (4th), Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) and Ald. Willie Cochran (20th), “along with neighboring PACs and other groups committed to park preservation.”

This story will be updated.

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RESOLUTION ON THE POSSIBLE USE OF THE MIDWAY PLAISANCE AS A REPLACEMENT URBAN PARK AND RECREATION RECOVERY ACT (UPARR) SITE

WHEREAS, the Midway Plaisance (“the Midway”) is an historic park on the South Side of Chicago on the National Register of Historic Places, designed in 1871 by the renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted as a system together with Jackson and Washington Parks, and

WHEREAS, the Midway is the vital connection between Jackson Park and Washington Park, a connection which would be severed by any loss of public, open green space on the Midway, and

WHEREAS, the Midway is used extensively by residents of the Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore, and Washington Park communities, and belongs to all the citizens of Chicago, and

WHEREAS, a 2000 Chicago Park District Framework Plan, which was completed with significant community input and support, remains in place as a set of guiding principles for the use and protection of the Midway, and

WHEREAS, the ongoing federal Section 106 and NEPA reviews of proposed changes to Jackson Park and the Midway have not been completed, and

WHEREAS, the federal Section 106 and NEPA reviews of proposed changes to Jackson Park require a replacement UPARR site, and the City of Chicago has proposed that a significant portion of the Midway be considered as a possible replacement UPARR site, and

WHEREAS, the City of Chicago through the Office of the Mayor and the Chicago Department of Planning and Development have committed publicly that there will be a net replacement of public parkland as a result of any currently proposed changes to Jackson Park,

BE IT RESOLVED, that the Midway Plaisance Advisory Council:

● strongly opposes the loss or repurposing of any historic, public open green space, or the removal of any mature, healthy trees, on the Midway or in Jackson Park, such as could result from the use of the Midway or Jackson Park as a replacement UPARR site, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Midway Plaisance Advisory Council:

● strongly urges that any proposed plans for the eastern section of the Midway should take into account its historical significance as part of Olmsted’s South Park System and maintain its integrity as an open meadow with flexible use, and
● strongly urges that any action taken with regard to locating a replacement UPARR site engage neighboring communities through broad community input, and take into account current community needs for access to public open space for nature and recreation.

August 8, 2018

a.gettinger@hpherald.com