Not consistent with Olmsted’s plan


To the Editor:

In a recent letter, Southside Neighbors for Hope says this 235-foot-tall building is “consistent with Olmsted’s grander plan.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Olmsted laid out the park in a mixture of lawns and wooded groves. These groves were not maintained, and the wooded areas shrank.  Nevertheless, the park has maintained its natural character over the years. This, in spite of the profound neglect lavished on it, by an incompetent Chicago Park District.  When a tree dies, they don’t replace it.

Olmsted understood the need for concession stands, bathrooms, a field house. But nowhere does he say anything about a 22-story building towering over our park.

This twenty-plus acre campus, four buildings. No such plans exist.

This sounds like an overactive imagination. “Consistent with Olmsted’s grander plan” – his plan was for the park we now have. There is no “grander plan” here. What rubbish.

I think there is more confusion as far as “clear cutting entire urban woodlands.”  Here, what the writer is talking about was the installation of temporary fencing, followed by large scale tree removals. This happened in front of Hyde Park High School.

In Mark Monaghan’s photo, large diameter trees, some three feet in diameter, lie strewn on the ground. Heavy construction equipment is in the background. This was only the tree removals required for installation of the new running track. This was a much smaller project than what is to come.

What about the trees – some 400 at latest count – that will be removed for the OPC construction? This is a significantly larger area.  What number will come down, in the widening of Stony Island? What about Lake Shore Drive? There are some beautiful trees, along the golf driving range fence, west of the drive. Those, too, will be lost.  These trees are, in some cases, old growth, pre-Chicago settlement. They’ll be removed.

There has been much twisting of the facts by SSN  4H in regard to letters expressing different opinions. They did refer to the lawsuit as sleazy, although they now try to deny it.  They would do well to stick with the argument at hand: Is the park or Stony Island the best location? The answer is obviously Stony. We don’t want to trade our park away for an OPC, when the OPC could be readily located on Stony. The park would be their front yard. Why do they insist on the park, when Stony is the better site? How about 5600 S. Stony? U. of C. owns it. It sits vacant.

This is quite sad, really. These people have no sense of park preservation or the value of open green space.  Park land is sacred; it deserves our protection.


Ross Petersen