Judge dismisses lawsuit against Obama Presidential Center

Louise McCurry addresses reporters after today’s ruling in the Obama Center lawsuit. (Photo by Marc Monaghan)

Herald staff writer

Federal Judge John Robert Blakey today dismissed the lawsuit filed by Protect Our Parks (POP) in an attempt to block the construction of the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park.

Judge Blakey said in his ruling that construction shall not be delayed. He also said the park was not a nature center and it was never submerged land.

Herbert Caplan, president POP, said he would study the ruling to see if there were grounds to petition for a re-hearing. He said he would appeal if there was no re-hearing. Caplan compared it to the sale of Manhattan Island to the Dutch for a handful of beads.

Mark Roth, attorney for POP, said the plaintiffs are disappointed with the ruling and that it is not what they expected. “The case lives on,” he said, “ and we will live to fight another day.”

Louise McCurry, president of Jackson Park Advisory Council, called the ruling a “major victory for our children.” She said it would bring badly needed facilities, jobs and access to Jackson Park.

The ruling means the OPC has cleared a major hurdle towards its construction, but it is far from the final one. Still ahead are four federal reviews: one examining the impact on a historic site, one to gauge the environmental impact, one required because the park is a recreational center, a historic site and a waterfowl refuge, and the fourth to assure that any park land that is lost is replaced elsewhere by the city.

The judge said he would issue a written ruling later today.