THREATENED: Jackson Park Road Widening and Tree Cut For OPC Begins While Lawsuit Is Considered by Federal Court

“Protect Our Parks — now suing the city, federal agencies, the Chicago Park District and the Obama Foundation to block construction of the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park in favor of a site of their choosing in Washington Park — is asking the federal district court to block planned roadwork on Hayes Drive and excavation on the planned OPC campus site.

“The move comes after the city, Park District and Obama Foundation filed a motion to dismiss the state law claims in the Protect Our Parks case, invoking the multitude of other buildings devoted to public use in Jackson Park, state and city approval of the plans and an OK by federal district and appeals courts, which ruled against POP when last it sued to block construction of the OPC in Woodlawn.

“The defendants acknowledged that POP’s new lawsuit is different than its first: at the heart of it is the claim that the federal agencies that authorized construction of the OPC in Jackson Park did not do their due diligence when faced with the option of building the presidential center in Washington Park, which had been another site under consideration.

“Richard Epstein, POP’s other attorney, gave the gist of the second case’s argument: ‘The city has not addressed candidly the requirement that all three of these statutes face, namely that what you must do is to show that there is no feasible and pruning alternatives, outside of the particular area, which will allow you to avoid the particular harm in question.’

“He said POP has determined a 10-acre site west of Washington Park would be ‘superior in every relevant respect’ to the 19-acre Jackson Park site the Obama Foundation chose.

“He compared the choice of the site to Union Station, where major tunnels beneath rivers cannot be moved, but said in this case there is not a single shred of evidence that anything has to be done in Jackson Park.

‘They can easily move it, they have refused to talk about it,’ Epstein said. (Gettinger, Hyde Park Herald, 6/16/21)

Read the full story at Hyde Park Herald

Protect Our Parks asks court to block OPC work after defendants file to dismiss case, Aaron Gettinger, Hyde Park Herald, 6/16/21

OP-ED: Soldier Field revamp hit taxpayers hard. So will the Obama Center, Michael Rachlis and Richard Epstein, Chicago Tribune, 6/28/21

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

Architect Grahm Balkany on all things Obama Presidential Center, Radio Interview, 2/24/21


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