To the Editor:
Thank you for your reporting on the dismissal of the appeal for the Protect Our Parks lawsuit. In a time of great discontent, this affirming action of the appeals court gave some comfort that we might have movement forward to establishing a center that means so much to the people of the South Side.
Listening to President Obama in the past year, and particularly at the Democratic National Convention was a reminder of what an outstanding president he was. His words were like a salve on the wounds of the past three plus years, giving hope that things could again return to some level of decency. That his center will be situated here, in Jackson Park, is such a source of pride for me and so many in our communities on the South Side, evidenced by the many who spoke in support of this center during the approval and Federal review process.
It was disappointing, but not surprising, that Protect Our Parks, led by Herb Caplan, vowed to continue on, appealing yet again to the courts, in a clear attempt to delay the ground-breaking of the center. They admit, this will not stop it from coming, but they only seek to delay it as long as possible. POP is joined by the self-professed “protector” of Jackson Park, Jackson Park Watch, in these delay tactics.
These tone deaf actions contrast with our attempt, as a society, to reckon with centuries-long racial inequalities that have been made even more apparent and worse during this pandemic. Tone deaf actions that will further delay jobs for our community members, a site for our children to play, and a center that will be inspirational for our communities that so badly need inspiration.
This is a center designed with so much thoughtfulness for our community, with a state of the art public library, a sound studio, meeting rooms for community groups, a museum that will teach us and remind us, of what it was like to have him and Michelle Obama living in the White House and leading our nation. Do you remember?
So why are these groups seeking to delay? If you read their website/newsletters, it is an alternative universe where the city and state have used subterfuge to force this center on an unwilling community. They claim no transparency, a "rushed job," the “destruction of Jackson Park.” It reminds me of the Fox News equivalent of the state of our nation. I fear that many who support the actions of these groups haven’t actually done the appropriate fact checking.
Do you actually know where the OPC will be sited? That the site, with the exception of the buildings, will be free and open to everyone (and owned by the city). Have you looked at the environmental plan for the site? The plans to make the site fully ADA compliant? The plans for tree replantings? Soil? Migratory Birds? Traffic rerouting and improvements to Stony Island? Perhaps you should. Go read the transcripts of the people (many of them African American leaders in our communities) who spoke in support of this center. You won’t find them on the JPW or POP websites, but their voices need to be heard. Educate yourself and hopefully realize, Hyde Parkers, that this is not just about you. It is much, much bigger. Please look around and then look within.
Erin J. Adams,
South Side Neighbors for Hope