I had high hopes, when it was announced that the National Park Service (NPS) would be doing an environmental assessment of the Obama Presidential Center. At last, I thought, some scientific observations, of the impact of the OPC on the Park, would be done. Sadly, this assessment ignores the impact of the OPC, its central tower, the loss of 800 to 1,000 trees, road closures and, in other areas, road widening.
I was disappointed there was no mention of the migratory flyway that goes through the Park. They made no reference to the building, at all. That is a stunning omission.
The NPS established the Indiana Dunes National Park, in an effort to preserve nature, near Chicago. Here, in Jackson Park, we have remnants of that nature, the oak savannah ecosystem on the Wooded Island one example. It is nature in the city: exactly what Olmsted envisioned. I cannot understand how you can protect one, and ignore the other.
The environmental impact of the OPC goes well beyond this 235 foot, twenty three story building, the four other buildings, the acres of concrete plaza. It widens Stony Island, Hayes Drive, Lake Shore Drive. It removes Cornell Drive, Marquette Drive, the East bound Midway. Between 800 to 1,000 trees will be removed, a huge loss of tree cover, canopy. We will see replacement saplings with 3" diameter going in. It will take fifty years or more for these saplings to be as large, equal to what is growing there, now.
This assessment is both faulty and incomplete. The only way to reduce the impact of the OPC is to move it to another location in the city.
Letters from the staff
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