On Wednesday June 8, 2018 the law firm of Roth Fioretti LLC entered a motion in federal court requesting a temporary block to the latest construction related to the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park. A Chicago Sun Times article published on August 6, 2018 uncovered the destruction of historic Jackson Park, including the removal of trees, to make way for the Obama Center. The latest move by the Chicago Park District to prematurely begin clearing trees from Jackson Park is simply the city of Chicago’s blatant disregard to abide by a June stay order set by the court.
This motion comes as an addition to the May lawsuit Roth Fioretti LLC filed against the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District in attempts to block the Obama Presidential Center from being built in Jackson Park. The lawsuit plaintiffs, advocacy group Protect Our Parks, and advocates Charlotte Adelman, Maria Valencia, and Jeremiah Jurevis, assert that the city and Park District do not have the authority to use the public parkland for the Obama Center. What has been described as an “institutional bait-and-switch”, the original plan was to build a Presidential Library housing presidential items and managed by the federal government. Instead a plan for a Chicago Public Library and a community center was passed by city council, with no association to the National Archives and Records Administration. The proposed Obama Center will cover almost 20 acres and include a tower reaching 135 feet at more than 12 stories, a plaza with access to food trucks, an underground garage designed for 450 cars, and 3 additional buildings. Presidential items such as handwritten notes, original letters from dignitaries around the world, and other original material from Obama’s time in office will remain in boxes stored in various federal facilities, no where near the Center.
Just this week a Crains Chicago Business editorial questioned why the Obama Center had to be built on historic public land. Additionally, many concerned residents have voiced their thoughts that a center would best be built in economically struggling areas of the city that have plenty of vacant land available.
The entire process concerning the Obama Center can best be described as putting the cart before the horse. City Council voted in June to hand over the historic land to the private Obama Foundation, without a lease agreement or terms set between them. While city council passed this land transfer, no final approval has been given by the federal government on the proposed project’s environmental effects – a requirement before anything can proceed at Jackson Park. Even the proposed re-routing of several vital streets that surround the park has been passed by city council, without any direct specifics to Chicago taxpayers on how they will fund the $175 million dollar roadwork.
It is is a Miegs Field déjà vécu for residents of the city of Chicago to watch the Park District move head destroying precious urban woodland on historically protected land without protocol nor permission. To read the latest motion CLICK HERE.