We are pleased that the Chicago Park District (CPD) and the City (CDOT) are moving ahead with a design process to restore Morgan Shoal and Promontory Point, as stated by officials in their May 28th letter to the editor and reported in your June 4th Herald news article.
We strongly support the 2015 Morgan Shoal Community Framework Plan and its completion. It was an excellent, award-winning community-based design process and the new park will enrich a deserving and diverse South Side community. We look forward to replicating this same process as the community works with the CPD to restore Promontory Point.
The 1993 Memorandum of Agreement among the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the Illinois Historic Preservation Officer, the CPD, the City, and the Chicago District Army Corps of Engineers stated, “Where the effect consists of the repair or reconstruction of contributing step stone revetment, the Corp shall consult with the interested parties to ensure that the design and construction of the revetment will match the existing in accordance with the recommendations of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines for Archeology and Historic Preservation.”
Despite this, in 2002 the City put forward a “concrete/compromise” design that would have demolished the limestone revetment, replaced it with concrete leaving only an ornamental row of stones at the top, and severely restricted access to the water. The community rejected this plan. As Save the Point, the community funded its own engineering design study that revealed the limestone revetment could be rebuilt and would be cheaper than demolition and concrete. This finding was confirmed by the US Army Corp of Engineers Preservation Office.
In 2006, the community and then-Senator Obama started a new process that would ensure restoration of the Point with:
- maximum historic limestone;
- minimum concrete; and
- safe and generous access (ADA compliance) for all to both the revetment and the water.
The CPD and the City have yet to start the Obama design process that is based on:
- an independent engineering review;
- adherence to the Secretary of Interior Standards for Preservation (because the Point is listed as a National Historic Place); and
- vigorous collaboration with the community.
Meanwhile, on behalf of the community, Alderman Hairston and the Promontory Point Conservancy (PPC) have acted to protect and preserve the Point. In 2017, Hairston helped get the Point listed on the National Register of Historic Places bringing more legal protection to the Point's historic limestone revetment. She also brought the CPD and the PPC back into dialogue about the Point's future. We have met regularly since then, most recently in meetings hosted by the Army Corps of Engineers. Despite these ongoing meetings, the CPD and the City have often failed to communicate information and made unilateral decisions without the community.
We hope that the new planning process just announced for this summer will fully involve the community and resume the Obama process. This is the best way to preserve, protect and restore Promontory Point. An important first step would be the signing of a new Memorandum of Agreement among the interested parties.
Promontory Point Conservancy
Friends of Promontory Point
Brenda Nelms & John Craig
Judy & Barry Kritzberg
Diana & George Davis
Alma and Ray Kuby