Council should reopen discussion on OPC

 

To the Editor:

I was remembering my mother, Betty Herlihy, when I joined 40 or so people last weekend, tying ribbons to some of the venerable trees that would be cut down for the Obama Presidential Center.

An orderly, thoughtful discussion, not invaded by activists and speech makers, with real architects, planners, historians and construction schedulers is desperately needed in City Council.

The council needs to reconsider the 47-to-1 vote on the sweeping zoning changes which will allow, not just OPC, but practically any kind of private, for profit, venue to be built in any park.

The cost to the city and state for the Jackson Park location is $500 million and climbing. No other location has this price tag, but the local developers want to use it as an excuse to crank up property taxes and clear the affordable housing out of Hyde Park and adjacent Woodlawn with an $11-million tax hike to the remaining and new residents.

The University with its extensive speculative real estate holdings would recover its donation to OPC tenfold. Through FOIA, I read many letters, each with serious objections and brilliant suggestions for better South Side locations.

The writers include Marc S. Lipinski, Joseph Casillas, Sarah V. Martini, ETHOS, Mary Ellen Holt, Landmarks Illinois, Linda Slowie, Elena Basher, NIHL, Preservation Chicago, Community Benefit Coalition, and Shirley Hoffman.  There are undoubtedly many more thoughtful letters buried under the pile of 15,000 brainless ones dictated by the OPC bulletin at the plan commission.

Terry Herlihy