To the Editors:
Below is a letter to the Illinois State Historic Preservation office:
I read with some hopefulness that the State Historic Preservation office had some reservations about the current MOA under discussion.
But now I understand you have decided to sign it. I would really like to know why.
Was it peer pressure? Or has the design been changed so that building that center will no longer destroy Jackson Park? Which is, as you know, currently a historic landmark.
I am horrified at this change in attitude. I may be mistaken, but I thought one of the missions of your office was/is to preserve and protect historic properties.
The Section 106 process as conducted was flawed from the outset since no discussion of avoidance or minimization was permitted. No plaques or signage can compensate for the loss of Jackson Park once 800 to 1,000 trees are clear-cut, and a mini-Millenium park is built instead.
I really believe this misguided idea, far from honoring our first Black president, is instead a grievous insult. In what way is the destruction of someone else's landmark an honor? At best, it becomes a hand-me-down, as if there were no other space; a second-best option.
There are far more than 20 acres of vacant land available on the south side of Chicago where the OPC could be built. Much of that land is now owned by the U of C, who could donate it if they wished. The OPC could be a palace if so desired.
Olmsted designed Jackson Park as an oasis, a place of nature where city folks could enjoy trees and wildlife, and escape the city noise and confusion for a respite. Building a landscaped campus on top of the ruins of Olmsted's vision is an insult to Olmsted, to Chicago's founders, to southside residents who delight in Jackson Park as an oasis, and most of all to the first Black President, who deserves better treatment.
I sincerely hope you will reconsider, and will not sign the MOA.
President, Nichols Park Advisory Council