New mayor needs to find new locale for OPC


To the Editor:

I was 11 when I moved from Michigan to Jackson Towers on 56th and Everett, across the street from Jackson Park.

Everyone was expressing pleasure with the newly constructed parkway through the park using 57th Street and Cornell Drive, that allowed the closing of a lane of the southbound drive that was dumping too much traffic to the South Shore Drive and Jeffery Boulevard, which now carried traffic past the Museum of Science and Industry and west of the beautiful Wooded Island through a heavily wooded park and to the wider Stony Island Avenue. A thousand times more people enjoy our parks from autos than from jogging or walking through them.

I graduated from Hyde Park High School and went to college, but my mother got involved with restoring Wooded Island and joined a group called the Bott’s Bunch to stop an ill designed plan to destroy Wooded Island with a poorly designed widening of the drive through the park. It couldn’t have been that necessary because it was never built.

She and the League of Woman Voters switched their focus to creating the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore park with the help of Sen. Douglas. I joined Save the Point years later to keep the Corps of Engineers from destroying the 55th Street “point.”

I am writing about another project that needs to remain unbuilt in the beautiful Jackson Park. An ugly collection of four buildings, one of them 240 feet tall, that somehow got approved by our corrupt zoning and planning commissions, that also requires closing Cornell Drive and adding the lane back to dump the traffic back to Jeffery and the south drive.

I have been a project manager for heavy construction projects in Chicago since 1961, and you had to have a detailed schedule and budget to pass the scrutiny of the plan commission who would demand honest answers about amount of traffic and construction noise. The commission was supposed to make the OPC answer the detailed questions that were in their possession when they reviewed the plan, but they didn’t.

In response to my request for information, Ms. Angelica Lis, Department of Planning and Development, sent me 20 letters with specific concerns that the OPC would have to solve. The Center does not have the ability to solve construction conflicts and has never even evaluated alternative locations. Construction budgeting, scheduling and planning is a science and the OPC is clueless. This “project” needs to be reviewed by the new mayor and city council and relocated to a better place that requires none of the $200 million in city funds needed in Jackson Park.

I am in complete agreement with my friend and family attorney, Charlotte Adelman who says, “I am only one person, but I am the only person in the entire State of Illinois who had the idea of filing a lawsuit to try to stop the Obama Center in Jackson Park and who then actually filed it.” I wish her luck.

Terry Herlihy