To the Editor,
I recently read that the North Park Village Nature Center was granted a permanent easement, assuring that the land would never be developed. I welcome this, but at the same time feel a sense that this is just more of the same uneven treatment, South Side versus the North Side.
Here, I am speaking of the Obama Presidential Center, proposed inside of Jackson Park.
I'm troubled by what I see as a cavalier attitude towards protecting this South Side Park, which is arguably far more critical habitat, being on the Lakefront, than the protections afforded to North Park's Nature Center. Both are of great value, both deserve our protection.
I am very much in favor of an OPC being built on the South Side. But locating it in the park runs against what we Chicagoans have been trying to achieve these last decades: creating an inviting habitat for wildlife inside these parks. Consider the nature areas, added to the lakefront. This benefits park users, as well. It is Nature, in the city, and it has healing powers.
I'm also concerned by the involvement of the U. of C. in this plan. Ostensibly an institution of higher learning, and scientific research, they appear to have turned their back on environmental impact, as well as science in general, in favor of what amounts to a park land-grab. Why was none of their land in contention? They own 'Stagg' field, which nobody at the school ever uses, across from the DuSable Museum, one of several available, prominent sites. The Plaisance Hotel site, on 60th Street and Stony Island Avenue, is another.
I think President Obama got poor advice from his former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. These nature areas really shouldn't be plowed up. That the city can protect one, develop the other, this just strikes me as wrong.
There is no shortage of gifted architects who could design an impressive, prominent OPC, on any number of sites, throughout the South Side.
Please Save Jackson Park.