opc pic

A north-facing rendering of the Obama Presidential Center campus in Jackson Park.

The third and final meeting in the Section 106 process to discuss measures to mitigate the impact of the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) has been postponed until July. 

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is in charge of the process, which began in December 2017. Last summer, the agency released a preliminary report finding that the construction of the OPC in Jackson Park would have some “adverse effect.” 

After the agency finalized the report in April, it announced a series of three review meetings to discuss possible mitigation measures for those adverse effects. The first two meetings took place in May, with the third scheduled for yesterday. 

The purpose of the last meeting is for “consulting parties” — organizations like Preservation Chicago and Jackson Park Advisory Council — to take a look at a draft agreement with the mitigation measures included in it. Earlier this week, FHWA announced that the meeting would be postponed until July 16. 

More information about the Section 106 process can be found at chicago.gov/city/en/depts/dcd/supp_info/jackson-park-improvements.html

(1) comment

Ross Petersen

A project of this size, inside of the Park, does call for public meetings. There should be three options: avoidance, minimizing, or mitigation. All we have been offered is mitigation - which is only one, of three options.

One meeting was held, at the Logan Center. Then, the Covid pandemic hit, and public meetings have been cancelled. I think postponing this review until July still does not give the public a chance to comment. The 'zoom' meetings hosted by FHWA were deeply flawed, and denied access to many. Critical comments disappeared soon after they appeared. Switched to an online format, these reviews have shut the public out.

An Environmental Impact Statement also needs to be submitted, and here, there will be negative impact on the Park. This mid-rise building, located adjacent to the Park's Nature area, lies directly in a major migratory flyway. Collisions will result.

A number of local Park advocacy organizations, including Protect our Parks, Jackson Park Watch, along with downtown advocacy groups like Friends of the Parks, Preservation Chicago, the Bird Collision Monitors, the bird Conservation Network, have raised some good questions. We deserve, and are legally entitled to have some say, in what is done with Our Parks.

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