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

(2) comments

Ross Petersen

Some fact checking is called for.

First, the location of the Central Building lies where the East bound Midway now runs. The Women's Garden will be gone. 800 to 1,000 trees will be cut down, and a 235 foot tall mid-rise building will go in. This, inside an amazing nature area, containing the Wooded Island. Have you considered the risk of collisions, posed by this building, which is located directly in a major migratory flyway? These Parks are finite, we only have so much of them. As to the claim of a benefit from a public library, what study identified this area as in need of a branch library? We Already have libraries. This is more of the same smoke and mirrors we've heard all along. A sound studio? Anybody with a Mac has one. Meeting rooms? They have those up at the field house. I'm sorry but these are the same tired excuses we've been hearing for years. There are vacant lots all over the South side that an OPC would be transformational, that could benefit that community, and the OPC.

I cannot understand why you insist on the Park location.

Some parts of the OPC will be free. Others will require an admission charge.

We welcome the OPC to the South side of Chicago, but feel better locations are available. Jackson Park must be preserved.

The judges remanded the case back to the lower courts, and the case will continue.

Ross Petersen

I'd like to add, there are some things we haven't given enough thought to, post Covid. The importance of open Parks, the effect of nature on city dwellers. The importance of trees, which serve as the 'lungs' of the city. The OPC has few windows, relies on air handlers to move air. How healthy will that be? What about the fence, which they may / may not put up, around the OPC? Who controls access to this former public Park?

When making decisions, about projects in our Parks, the public is entitled to certain protections. Due to the pandemic, many meetings were cancelled or moved online.

There has been a rush to judgement, and a faulty MoA is the result. Take note of the feedback, the letters the Herald has received. You can fool some people, sometime....

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