To the Editors, 

The City of Chicago recently announced a 'projected deficit' of $1.2 billion. The Chicago Park District has also announced its deficit: $32 million. Soldier Field bonds need city money, because the hotel tax has disappeared. And the pandemic rages on. It is only reasonable to expect this to continue, at least through next year. So, too, the economic fallout. 

I do not think the City or the Obama Foundation has been completely clear on the cost to taxpayers of building the OPC. We know the budget for road widening alone to be $175 million.

What we don't know are environmental remediation costs from the underground garage. We don't know infrastructure costs, sewer and electric. We haven't factored in other costs, such as the removal of 800 to 1,000 trees from Jackson Park.

What happens if President Obama doesn't reach his fundraising goal? Let's say he reaches half -- $500 million. Are we taxpayers going to be on the hook for any of the remaining balance? 

I submit, in light of the pandemic, we move the OPC to any number of other sites in the City. This would save us a fortune, and we would still have Jackson Park. 

Placing this in the Park is ostentatious, and we can't afford it, anyway.


Ross Petersen

(2) comments

Jaye Platt

Yeah, or just kill the whole Obama Presidential Center project. Obama is an ex president. He and his supporters are entitled to some type of ex presidential library like LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter - I think even George W Bush Jr has a presidential library though I somehow doubt there are many/any books that George W actually read :-). What is much more practical is a real, modest presidential library of say 4 or 5 stories like the many libraries across 5th Avenue from New York City's Central Park (the Frick Museum would be a great model ) And again, Jackson Park is an urban public park like Abraham Lincoln Park and George Washington Park. President Obama and his supporters should go to work improving our nature in the city Jackson Park. I'd support renaming Andrew Jackson Park to "Obama Park" if the Obama supporters could do some serious private fundraising from their $ billionaire tech supporters. Andrew Jackson was far more politically incorrect than Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas who just had his statue destroyed on the University of Chicago Campus. What's wrong with simply renaming Andrew Jackson Park to "Obama Park" and then maybe Mr and Mrs. Obama might choose to come visit our/their park and do some nature in the city activities for local youths? But, the alternatives is the Obamas will just hang out in Washington DC, Hawaii and their new $13 Million estate on Martha's Vineyard, MA.

Ross Petersen

As I understand, Obama will first have to submit these plans for Federal review. A Memorandum of Agreement, an Environmental assessment have to be completed. Additionally, an Environmental Impact Statement is required. None of these reviews have been completed. Then, Obama will have to raise funds, adequate to build and endow it. One billion dollars. This does Not include costs associated with road widening projects, throughout the Park, estimated at $175 million, nor 'remediation' costs from their underground garage. Normally, you'd want to know what these costs are, prior to embarking on construction. Normally. This - is a boondoggle, all bets are off.

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