Our community landmarked the Point: The good, the bad … and the maybe
The Good: Promontory Point is temporarily protected as a preliminary Chicago Landmark. This is a very good thing. It makes demolition of the Point's limestone revetment and new construction of concrete less likely to happen. Alderman Leslie Hairston and the Conservancy worked hard to reach this preliminary status protection. But the real hero is you: an astronomical 537 personal letters from the community to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks (CCL) urging Chicago landmarking of the Point. Commissioner Maurice Cox and the other CCL members were astounded and deeply moved by your outpouring of love for Promontory Point. Preliminary landmarking wouldn’t have happened without you!
The Bad: It is possible to bend and twist the landmarking protections to destroy the limestone revetment rather than fix it. We hope the Chicago Park District and the City will resist this temptation. Because the Point is on the National Register of Historic Places, construction there must comply with the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Historic Treatments. The Conservancy knows that most of the limestone revetment can be retained, repaired and restored under the SOI Standards. The rehabilitation standard allows for an adaptation of the limestone revetment for ADA compliance with ramps so all have access to the water.
The City and Park District, however, are playing with preservation language when they talk only of the rehabilitation standard applying to the Point. Their use of rehabilitation creates a loop hole that they can drive a fleet of cement trucks through.
But if they try to pave the Point, we know the community will just say, “NO!"
… and the Maybe — Uncertain Future of City Landmarking: As the legal owner of the Point, the Park District has to give consent to landmarking. CCL and the Conservancy thought they already had. But this past Thursday, Park District lawyers decided landmarking had to come before the entire Park District Board of Commissioners for a vote. We hope this will be an easy decision and a unanimous vote in favor. But … maybe not.
The Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners will meet on Wednesday, February 15, 2023, 11:30, at Fosco Park, 1312 S Racine Ave, to take this vote. We’ll be there, watching, testifying, and hoping for the right vote. You are invited to attend and to speak too. (Here is the link to speak at the meeting: https://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/get-involved/speaking-board-commissioner-meetings) Hope to see you there.
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