Jackson Park Advisory Council retains incumbent officers

Gary Ossewaarde, Louise McCurry and Dwight Powell (center left to right) listen as Parliamentarian Jerry Levy (far left) calls for the election by acclamation of McCurry, Anne Marie Miles, Powell and Ossewaarde as President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary respectively of the Jackson Park Advisory Council. They were the only candidates nominated for the positions during the Jackson Park Advisory Council Meeting in the Jackson Park Field House, 6401 S. Stony Island Blvd., on Dec. 10. (Photo by Marc Monaghan)

Staff Writer

WOODLAWN — By acclamation, the Jackson Park Advisory Council (JPAC) retained its incumbent slate of officers at a Dec. 10 meeting. President Louise McCurry, vice president Anne Marie Miles, treasurer Dwight Powell and secretary Gary Ossewaarde were elected to another two-year term.

“We work because we work, and we really are a team. We get a lot of stuff done,” said McCurrie, noting that many children on the South Side, who “rarely get the opportunity to have events where they’re honored and appreciated,” are able to enjoy Jackson Park.

“It works because we make it happen,” McCurrie said. “Most of what we do is really hard work.”

Jackson Park Watch (JPW) co-president Brenda Nelms was in attendance but did not support the motion to retain the incumbent JPAC officers.

In addition to the sponsorship of several activities and actions within the park, from children’s sports leagues to restoration efforts to cultural development, the vote means that JPAC will continue to support locating the planned Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park. JPAC officers and members have been a presence at city government functions concerning the OPC and community meetings regarding the federal reviews of the project.

Neither the Coalition for a Community Benefits Agreement, a network of South Side activist organizations attempting to fend off feared gentrification and displacement in South Shore and Woodlawn, nor anti-development organizations such as JPW have made efforts to seize control of JPAC, which has an active membership of a few dozen. Either Nelms or the other JPW co-president, Margaret Schmid, also members of JPAC, are typically at meetings.

With the retention of its own incumbent officers last month, the Midway Plaisance Advisory Council will likely continue to support proposals involving the OPC that they think will benefit the Midway.

While MPAC passed a resolution supporting the preservation of green space on the Midway in August, it has subsequently met with government officials regarding the designation of parts of the park as locations for federal Urban Parks and Recreation Recovery Act-mandated capital improvements, which MPAC has discussed using to implement parts of its 2000 park framework plan.

Though UPARR not been an active federal program since the 1980s, Jackson Park received federal money for improvements when it existed, and, because of grandfathering, the park must maintain active recreation spaces that received federal funds. Because of the OPC will be built on some of these spaces, government officials have suggested the Midway as a site for UPARR replacement spaces.