Conflicts continue over NPAC bid to join OPC lawsuit

Staff Writer

Controversy continues to burble between the Hyde Park–Kenwood Community Conference (HPKCC) and the Nichols Park Advisory Council (NPAC) over whether NPAC should be allowed to join the federal lawsuit attempting to block construction of the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) in Jackson Park.

Prior to press time, Fylynne Crawford, president of HPKCC, said the group’s board would meet Monday evening in executive closed session to discuss next steps. HPKCC has fiscal oversight of NPAC.

At its Jan. 3 board meeting, Eric Reaves, an HPKCC board member and director of Downtown Hyde Park Chicago, a special service area of the South East Chicago Commission, made a motion for NPAC and its president, Stephanie Franklin, to retract the statements and positions they had put forth in regard to joining Protect Our Parks v. Chicago Park District, positions they took in opposition to the placement of the planned OPC.

Reaves said the motion passed with 16 affirmative votes.

“HPKCC is the fiscal agent for NPAC, and prior authorization or direction was not sought from the full board. That is required as a committee of the HPKCC,” Reaves said. “I think [NPAC] has to understand that there’s a direct line back to HPKCC, and any action by them has an impact on the entire board and each individual board member.”

“From the comments and tone of the board, I do not believe that she (Franklin) would have enough votes for authorization. In the past, [the board has] supported the Obama Foundation and the Obama Center. Although it was prior to the decision to place [the OPC] in Jackson Park, we have supported [the Obama Foundation] as of late when they have made presentations to us.”

Franklin responded that no retraction can take place without a full meeting of the NPAC council, as the vote had been taken by the full NPAC council. She said NPAC will meet on Thursday, Jan. 10, at the Nichols Park fieldhouse, 1355 E. 53rd St.

She also disputed “legally why a policy decision of the advisory council has any impact on the HPKCC board, because, although they are our fiscal agent … they do not set policy.” She questioned why “the Conference would be involved in any way.”

Reaves said that HPKCC has ordered NPAC’s executive board to meet over the weekend to withdraw its motion.

Reaves said that if NPAC does not abide by HPKCC’s order, HPKCC will issue a statement “stating our position and what we directed NPAC to do.” He said HPKCC wants a retraction before next Thursday, ordering NPAC to hold an executive meeting over the weekend to do so.

He conceded that he does not yet know what the specific repercussions might be. “We’re going to consult counsel and not-for-profits as to what [Franklin’s] responsibility is for her clarity. We are clear. It’s for her clarity.”

“I’m on several boards and have been for years — the committee does not get in front of the board. That’s not the process,” Reaves said.