To the editors, 

In a recent letter, it was claimed that the Obama Presidential Center would pose no hazard to migrating birds. This is not true. We know the lakefront to be especially critical for migrating birds — this is the Great Lakes / Mississippi flyway. Further, Jackson Park is designated an "important wildlife habitat," as the natural character of the Park attracts wildlife. 
The OPC features a central building 235 feet in height, directly up against this nature area. It is mostly covered in stone, opaque. Birds will collide with it. We know this thanks to Doppler radar, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, who've been doing studies of these migratory routes for the last thirty years, or more.
Much migration goes on through the night. By the time the birds see this huge building it will be too late. 
A number of birding groups have expressed their disappointment with this location, including the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors. They are the group who goes out and rescues injured birds.
This is contradictory to what we've been striving to achieve with our nature areas: a safe, inviting habitat for wildlife. 
The other issue omitted was the impact to the Park's trees. Between the OPC and road-widening projects, throughout the Park, some 800 to 1,000 trees will be removed. These are specimens measuring up to three feet in diameter. We will see replacement plantings going in, but these will be saplings, with a diameter of three inches.
The number of trees to be removed has also grown, due to the tower being moved north, as well as the underground garage now proposed. We don't know what impact that will have, because we don't even have an up-to-date inventory of trees in the entire park. It will take fifty years for the saplings to reach anything close to what we have now. 
Ross Petersen, member, Protect Our Parks 

(6) comments


This is truly the only building in the country that keeps being at the center of bird-concerned citizens' attention. If you are truly concerned about birds, maybe attack all of the new tall-rises in the city. Why do you single out this one? I have an inkling...

Just cut the pretense and say what you actually mean to say: you hate the idea of seeing anything with Obama's name on it and are desperately trying to delay it.

Ross Petersen

To start, it's located in a Public Park, which supposedly belongs to everybody. It is located in a known migratory flyway - we know this through US F&W studies. It is a building which could be built Anywhere. What magic ingredient does the Park bring, to this plan? Have you considered the impact on humans? Parks are important to us.

What happens on private property - that we don't object to. The Park, we Do object.

Consider what Obama did for our Parks, our environment. This plan is entirely at odds with that. No-one else is suggesting plowing up this Park, building an unattractive, windowless eyesore in our City; Removing Cornell Drive is a costly blunder. This will cost us taxpayers Millions in road projects, and require subsidies that these other high rises - don't. We are Park advocates, preservationists. nature lovers. Your claims of racist motivations are hokum. We love Obama, we want him to have a 'Center', but not inside Jackson Park. What is So difficult about that?

jaye els

Ross Peterson writes: "We love Obama, we want him to have a 'Center'," I respond. I for one don't think any one man should have his own "Center". This strikes me as something one of the bad Roman Emperors like Nero or Caligula would want - his own personal "Center" - more like a personal Temple where regular people are supposed to worship the emperor as a God. Barack Obama isn't any kind of a God. And let's all just admit that the proposed OBC isn't any kind of traditional ex President's Library - anybody know of a real library that's 23 stories tall? Nor is the god awful proposed Obama Presidential Center like "Lincoln Center" or the "Kennedy Center" in New York, Washington DC these are classical music concert halls. The OPC isn't a classical music concert hall so what exactly is it? I see it as a park destroying personal religious temple designed to make locals worship some guy that lives in a diplomat neighborhood in Washington DC and he's just closed on a $13 million family estate on Martha's Vineyard, MA. The Obamas have dined and dashed from our South Side of Chicago, they don't live here, they chose not to associate or help poor or working class Black African Americans in our Chicago - I refuse to worship such people as Gods.

Ross Petersen

A number of organizations have come out, in opposition to these plans. The Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, Protect Our Parks, Jackson Park Watch, the Nichols Park Advisory Council, to name a few. The OPC is at the center of this controversy due to the insensitive location of this Center inside this Historic, Natural Park. Why didn't they consider the environment, or Nature, in its placement? Why does this have to take up our Park, when vacant land lies all over the South side? We do want to honor Obama.

Building the OPC in the Park does him no honor. It simply destroys our Park.


The chosen location of the OPC is not about the birds, the bees and the trees, it's about money, political power and arrogance.

Ray Pickens

Ross Petersen

It is a back door effort, to develop the Park, while simultaneously gentrifying the neighborhoods of Woodlawn, South Shore. Instead of engaging in negotiations, the foundation has launched into a jingoistic campaign to label Park Advocates as being racist. As half our members are Black, this strikes us a load of baloney. We do want an OPC, but locations adjacent to, not inside of, Any Park must also be considered.

Consider how they've galloped ahead with this plan, and they haven't even completed federal reviews? Where's the environmental impact statement?

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