Photo: Trees removed in Jackson Park ahead of roadway reconstruction

A contractor cuts a stump to near-ground level as trees are removed from the southeast corner of E. Hayes Drive and S. Cornell Drive by the Chicago Department of Transportation on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. 

CDOT is preparing the roadways for reconstruction as part of the Obama Presidential Center project. Motorists can expect daily off-peak closures for site preparation work on Stony Island Avenue, Hayes Drive and South DuSable Lake Shore Drive. 

On June 28, three precincts in the 5th Ward — the 14th in South Shore, the 19th in central Hyde Park and the 37th in East Hyde Park — voted for an advisory referendum that reads, "Shall the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District stop cutting down trees in Jackson Park and preserve the trees in South Shore Cultural Center Park?"

The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the referendum: 158-67 in the 14th precinct, 170-40 in the 19th and 180-36 in the 37th.

To get an advisory referendum on the ballot in a precinct, advocates need to collect a number of petitions equal to or more than 8% of the ballots cast in the previous gubernatorial election. That means at least 117 people signed petitions in each precinct for the referendum.

The felling of trees in Jackson Park for the Obama Presidential Center's construction and the planned demolition of the South Shore Nature Sanctuary for a golf course have been long standing local controversies.

"The precincts targeted featured an array of ethnic and socio-economic communities," said referendum advocate Jeannie Hoyt in a statement after Election Day. "It gave these community members a chance to share their voices. We hope that the Chicago Park District and the City of Chicago are listening."

She said the advocates plan to put the referendum on the ballot in more precincts in the November general election.

Trees will be felled as the widening of DuSable Lake Shore Drive commences. South Shore Park would be significantly reconstituted if the planned golf course is built, resulting in trees there being felled.

"Trees make air," Hoyt said. "South and Southeast Chicagoans need that air to breathe."

The city and Park District did not respond to a request for comment.

(2) comments

Ross Petersen

I'd like to see a City-wide referendum on tree removals from both Jackson Park as well as the South Shore Cultural Center, where a 'new' Tiger Woods golf course has been suggested. Were the people aware, would they support removing another 2,670 trees from both these Parks? How many signatures do we need to get this on the ballot?

Terence herlihy

Everybody is too stupid to have digested the addition of the traffic control for the Tiger Woods golf course to the OPC Chicago plan commission review in May, 2018. The 700 additional tree removals was reviewed and approved by another commission that can't read a drawing. Welcome to Chicago.

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