THREATENED: Jackson Park OPC Construction Announced On Same Day as New Lawsuit to Prevent it in the Park

“On Wednesday, state and local officials including Gov. Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot assembled in Jackson Park to announce the start of preliminary construction work on the Obama Presidential Center.

“Although groundbreaking on the center itself isn’t expected until the latter part of the year, pre-construction work—such as relocating utility lines plus the closing and widening of several adjacent roadways—is a key step in the process.

“However, the same day that officials marked the start of preliminary construction work, nonprofit group Protect Our Parks filed a fresh lawsuit aimed at blocking construction.

“The group was behind an earlier lawsuit challenging the legality of handing over parkland to a private entity such as the Obama Foundation, and its latest legal complaint makes a similar argument.

“The new suit also alleges that the center will ‘permanently destroy’ the integrity of Jackson Park, and that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review completed earlier this year was in violation of federal laws.

“‘It seems to me that the obvious resolution is just to require a reconsideration that considers alternative locations,’ Protect Our Parks president Herb Caplan told the Hyde Park Herald. ‘In other words, just do the entire NEPA review all over again, but not limiting it solely to considering Jackson Park, but considering other locations.’

“In a statement reported by the Chicago Tribune, the Obama Foundation said it was ‘prepared to vigorously defend against this lawsuit’ and that the organization still anticipates ‘groundbreaking in the fall of this year.’ (Koziarz, Urbanize, 4/14/21)

Preservation Chicago welcomes the Obama Presidential Center to Chicago’s South Side, but has consistently encouraged the Obama Foundation to locate it on private land. If the Obama Presidential Center had been located on private land, it would likely be open today. Additionally, the $250 million taxpayer funds earmarked for road widening could have been redirected to improving transit and bike lanes. Additionally, these funds could have been used to mitigate the catastrophic impact the skyrocketing housing costs caused by the OPC are having on the Woodlawn community, ensure affordability and take actions to reduce widespread displacement.

Read the full story at Urbanize

As pre-construction work begins, Obama Presidential Center faces new lawsuit; The Obama Foundation says its still anticipates breaking ground on the project later this year, Jay Koziarz, Urbanize, 4/14/21

Lawsuit seeks to halt Obama Center work; A coalition that previously attempted to block the Jackson Park project sued again, just as pre-construction work began, A.D. Quig, Crain’s Chicago Business, 4/14/21 

Protect Our Parks Files New Lawsuit Seeking To Stop Obama Center’s Construction In Jackson Park; The suit was filed Wednesday, the same day officials announced work would begin to prep for the Obama Center’s groundbreaking later this year, Maxwell Evans, Block Club Chicago, 4/14/21

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