To the editor:

Jackson Park is my local park. I live one block away. Therefore nobody can argue that I don't have "standing" on this issue. It is also a regional and national treasure and historic landmark.

The Obama Presidential Center (OPC) does not belong here. And placing it here will be very costly, both in terms of money and in terms of damage to the local community. It would convert Jackson Park to a park only crossed by highways. The Olmsted-designed parkways, which I enjoy in my local park, are proposed to be obliterated.

To build it here will require clear cutting 800 beautiful, mature, carbon-absorbing, heat-absorbing trees. Any trees that replace them will take decades to reach what they are now. It will remove recreational opportunities - a recent holiday found many dozens of families picnicking, with children playing, on exactly the space now proposed to be taken for the OPC. 

The vastly superior alternative is the vacant land at the northwest corner of Martin Luther King Drive and Garfield Boulevard, across from Washington Park. This location is adjacent to a CTA train station, providing better access both for OPC staff and visitors, and for the people the OPC seeks to help. Retail spaces already exist on Garfield Boulevard for restaurants and other businesses to serve visitors to the OPC. A compelling argument is that this would help a beleaguered neighborhood that actually needs help, rather than one that is already gentrifying.

Dealing with the coronavirus situation is causing financial strain on everyone, particularly the governmental bodies which will need to pay for this destruction of parkland. As a taxpayer, this is a waste, at a time when we cannot afford waste.

Don't take Jackson Park for the OPC! It is my local park, which I constantly enjoy, even just touring it by car as I get older and less mobile. The alternative is so much better, even for the laudable goals of the Obama Presidential Center.

Roger Deschner


(1) comment

Ross Petersen

I agree with Mr. Deschner, the OPC will have a detrimental impact on this historic Park. I'm concerned by the road widening projects, outside of the OPC. This will pave an additional 28 acres of the Park: Stony Island, Hayes, Lake Shore Drives, all widened.

Hayes Drive will now be impassable. I don't see that as an 'improvement'.

I'm concerned because the OPC charges ahead, even though there hasn't been an environmental impact statement. This is a sensitive nature area, designated 'Important Bird habitat'. The law requires an EIS.

No such EIS is required at the ML King Drive / 54th St. location. It is not inside the Park, but on it. This would be an economic stimulus to the community. .

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