“The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a request by a Chicago parks preservation group for a temporary halt to construction of the Obama Presidential Center, which officially kicked off in Jackson Park Monday.
“Justice Amy Coney Barrett issued the decision Friday without comment, declining to provide the emergency injunction sought by Protect Our Parks.
“Supreme Court intervention was considered unlikely, but the group’s lawsuit will continue.
“‘Today’s Supreme Court decision is disappointing, but not surprising. We still believe that preserving the status quo is fundamental to preventing irreparable harm in Jackson Park,’ Michael Rachlis, a lawyer for Protect Our Parks and other plaintiffs on the suit, said in a statement.
“‘Nonetheless, our core arguments seek to protect the long-term environmental and historical resources in Jackson Park, and we look forward to presenting our evidence and these arguments in the appellate and district court in the coming weeks.’
“The group, whose bid for an emergency halt to construction was rejected by a lower court, has advocated for an alternate location in Washington Park and has argued in court that current plans will clear-cut 1,000 mature trees, disrupt migratory bird patterns and contribute to more harmful air emissions by snarling traffic.
“In addition to breaking ground on the South Side Jackson Park site in recent days, the Obama Foundation also released documents that detail the latest and most comprehensive price tag yet for the center: $830 million.
“On the expense side, the tax form details that the foundation spent $41 million last year, down from 2019′s $55 million total. The highest-paid officials were CEO David Simas, who made $608,066 in 2020; Executive Director Robbin Cohen, whose salary was $551,913; and then-foundation President Adewale Adeyemo, at $546,477
“The Obama center campus has been years in the making, with Obama announcing in 2016 that he picked the historic Jackson Park on the South Side to be the future site. The campus will include a museum, Obama Foundation offices, a public library branch, an athletic center and an outdoor recreation space. Its opening initially had been set for this year, but almost five years of obstacles have stood in the way.
“Those hurdles included two lawsuits from park preservationists and a long-running federal review process, which officially wrapped up in February.”
U.S. Supreme Court Denies Petition To Stop Obama Center Construction In Jackson Park; Protect Our Parks had filed the petition Aug. 16, the same day the Obama Foundation broke ground for the presidential center, Maxwell Evans, Block Club Chicago, 8/19/21
Op-Ed: The Obama Center and the fight to preserve Jackson Park; Advocates say an alternate site in Washington Park is less disruptive and more beneficial to the community and the environment, Leonard C. Goodman, Chicago Reader, 8/3/21
Obama Presidential Center scores construction permits; Official groundbreaking on the $700 million project is less than a month away—that is, if it doesn’t get held up in court, Jay Koziarz, Urbanize Chicago, 7/29/21
The Obama library is coming to Chicago. Will local residents be displaced? Complex slated for South Side’s Jackson Park prompts fears that low-income Black residents will be displaced, Taylor Moore, The Guardian, 5/24/21
To Make Obama Presidential Center Succeed, Local Business Leaders Must Support It, Former President Says Ahead Of Construction; The former president compared his center’s plans to “great civic projects in Chicago” like Millennium Park in an appearance with economic leaders, Maxwell Evans, Block Club Chicago, 6/7/21