THREATENED: More Old-Growth Midway Plaisance Trees Cut due to Obama Presidential Center (Chicago 7 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 & 2021)

“Eight trees were felled within the 3.3 acre portion of the Midway Plaisance’s east end Tuesday morning, an area that will soon play host to a new playground.

“The project, located on the Midway between the Metra tracks and Stony Island Avenue, is a universally accessible playspace and landscape redesign under development by the Chicago Park District. The 21,000-square-foot playground, the heart of the Park District’s Midway east end redesign, will integrate nature play with natural elements, according to the district’s proposal.

“Other changes include restoration of the historic Cheney-Goode Memorial, lawn gardens and drainage improvements.

“The redesign was triggered by the construction of the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) across the street in Jackson Park. Because the OPC converts a section of that park from recreational use to non-recreational use, appropriate replacement land must be found somewhere else, as mandated by the Urban Parks and Recreation Recovery (UPARR) Act of 1978.

“During the design public review process, which stretched from 2022 into 2023, a number of community members objected to the project’s location while also praising the design of the playspace. Critics frequently argued that the local community did not need the playspace as much as other, less wealthy, South Side communities; that the playground destroyed wetlands; and that the site’s location between three busy streets would pose a danger to those using the playspace.

“Last April, the Chicago Plan Commission unanimously approved the Park District’s application to build the playground. Because the commission oversees compliance with the Lake Michigan and Chicago Lakefront Protection Ordinance, to which the site is subject, it has the final word on the application – not Chicago City Council.” (Monaghan, Hyde Park Herald, 2/6/24)

Read the full story at Hyde Park Herald

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