To the Editor:
Re: Section 106 commentary concerning Jackson Park vs. the OPC
Chicago’s lakefront is so unique, and we are so blessed by the long-range vision of our founding fathers (and their wives), who created a public greensward for us next to Lake Michigan. No other Great Lakes state has anything resembling our expanse of public park and beach along our eastern shore.
Now we are faced with an unfortunate and misguided plan to obliterate and privatize a valuable portion of our lakefront, a National Historic Site, in the guise of honoring our immediate past president. Trashing one monument to build another is not only shortsighted; it is far from honoring that president. It is demeaning to Chicago’s founders, to Olmsted, to Chicago residents, and most of all to Obama.
Where in this debacle is the far-sighted vision of those early planners? As one of them said, “make no small plans.” If only the current planners would concentrate on the long-range consequences of this decision, and move the Obama Center out of Jackson Park to another South Side location, Chicago could boast of creating the 8th wonder of the world. Why should a president we wish to honor be offered a second-hand site? Are there no architects with the vision, imagination, and talent of Olmsted and others of his stature? And furthermore, building a mini-Millennium Park is also a second-hand idea.
Once Jackson Park has been clear-cut and Olmsted’s vision of an oasis of nature for city dwellers has been destroyed, it can never be rebuilt. No number of plaques can replace what will have vanished. Most importantly, we will have lost what is a really and truly, once-in-a-Lifetime opportunity: There can never be another First Black American President.
We can do this only once; let’s do it right.