To the Editor:
If we were God, we might have located the Obama Presidential Center elsewhere than in Jackson Park — say, the Washington Park location, in the interest of anchoring redevelopment of the Garfield Boulevard corridor. But we are not God. The siting decision was made amidst much public discussion by various political and personal forces for reasons coherent to them. It was debatable but not illegitimate. It has been effectively ratified by everyone from the City Council to Federal Highway Administration to the Supreme Court. This has taken way too long, but that is the way that democracy seems to work.
The siting decision is over. It is past time to stop lamenting it. It is time to focus on how OPC can be made into the best possible tool for the many purposes being laid upon it. From my perspective, this means using OPC (and related infrastructure) to support the broadest possible restoration and improvement of Jackson Park as a whole. This park should be a jewel — THE jewel? — of the Chicago park system and a living demonstration that all Chicagoans can thrive in a shared environment — that the City can work. We may disagree on optimal facets of the jewel, but I think we can all agree that, at the moment, Jackson Park is some distance from sparkling. The OPC is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to reshape and polish it.
Construction of OPC will begin shortly. Let’s organize to look forward, to change what should be changed, to discover possibilities not previously possible, to cherish and to grow the world-class park bequeathed to us by history. Let’s make the most of this opportunity.