Obama Presidential Center (Library, Museum & Institute)
Page by Gary Ossewaarde, JPAC
Leadership and contacts
A Foundation reply to misinformation and questions (read in pdf)
About the Historic and Environmental Review process.
Jackson Park Advisory Council's Background, update and commentary page, prepared for Jackson Park Advisory Council and Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference hydepark.org. To Jackson Park hydepark.org home.
To JPAC official website. Return to: JPAC News and Bulletins, Jackson Park Home, hydepark.org Hot Topics Home, hydepark.org Home, Golf Proposal.
Foundation/Barack Obama Presidential Library OFFICIAL SITE: http://www.barackobamafoundation.org A NEW WEBSITE and message (https://obama.org, go.obama.org and go.obama.org/hometown)
(University of Chicago Bid site. http://www.oplsouthside.org (The other three bids may still be found in search engines.)
SIGN UP TO GET NOTICES FROM THE FOUNDATION: my.barackobamafoundation.org/hello (or obama.org)
Includes an appeal from from Barrack Obama January 21 2017 asking for ideas.
To take surveys on the Obama Center, visit obama.org or go.obama org. To take a survey on the whole park, visit www.southlakefrontplan.com.
A good thumbnail summary and link to original with map on all the projects in DNAinfo.
A petition for south parks redevelopment. https://www.change.org/p/ support-chicago-s-jackson- park-restoration-and-obama- presidential-center- development-initiatives. A petition against if certain factors are true is also circulating- link will be given when available.
The Foundation will soon add a ground level storefront multipurpose space, 1538 E. 53rd St. (at Lake Park in Harper Court office building, east of Starbucks.) Its offices in 5235 S. Harper Court 11th floor are expected to remain.
PUBLIC MEETINGS - See also from July 2017 Newsletter
(Next Framework Plan meetings with option scenarios are December 7 and 11, 6-9 pm at South Shore Cultural Center) Dec. 7, 11. Framework Plan - Options and Scenarios phase. December 7 and 11, 6-9 pm, South Shore Cultural Center. Note- the focus is on 3 options for recreational and cultural use and capital improvement, water, connectivity... focus (there will NOT be new iterations of OBC, golf, or road plans). According to release, the options will be "based on a reasonable balance of uses that also provide the greatest public balance." Explanations and chance to comment- www.southlakefrontplan.com.
Over the past several months, thousands of our neighbors on the South Side and beyond have shared their ideas on the Obama Presidential Center and Jackson Park with us. We are grateful for the feedback so far, and we are excited to continue the conversation with you as we shape the Presidential Center together.
On Thursday, September 14, we will be hosting a public meeting to continue to share an update on our plans and hear from people in the community about the development of the Center.
We hope you can join us. Here are the details:
When: Thursday, September 14
Time: 5 p.m.
Meeting Location: Regency Ballroom, Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, 2233 S Martin Luther King Jr. Dr, Chicago, IL 60616
In addition to discussing the design progress, we would also like your ideas on how the Obama Foundation can be a vital part of the South Side community and the greater Chicago area, as well as how we can support civic leaders making positive change in their communities in the area.
The Obama Foundation team presenting and listening at the meeting will include Michael Strautmanis, Vice President of Civic Engagement; Museum Director, Louise Bernard; lead architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien; and lead landscape designer Michael Van Valkenburgh.
Please RSVP to let us know if you can make it. We look forward to seeing you there and continuing the conversation:
The Obama Foundation
MESSAGE FROM BARACK OBAMA SEPTMBER 13, 2017
Based on what we've heard from you, I'm here to tell you what's next.
We're going to focus on empowering and equipping civic innovators and young leaders with the skills and tools they need to create change in their communities. We'll spotlight the incredible individuals and projects around the world that are making an impact, and convene those that are tackling challenges in their own backyards.
We're launching the Obama Foundation Fellowship to support and elevate outstanding civic innovators -- individuals from around the world who are working with their fellow citizens to tackle big challenges. We want to lift up the amazing work that organizers, inventors, artists, entrepreneurs, journalists, and others are doing -- and if we do it right, together we'll show the world that each of us has a role to play in our civic life. Apply now, or pass this message along to someone you know who's changing the world.
We've also heard from thousands of young people just getting engaged for the first time, asking for help on how to get started. So, we're putting together a series of Training Days across the country -- starting in Chicago -- to teach young people how to put civics into action where they live. Get updates on Training Days and find out when we're coming to your area.
Finally, we heard how much you want to hear from one another -- from folks who aren't like you, who live in different places and experience different challenges. So this October, we're bringing together hundreds of civic leaders from all around the world to Chicago for a hands-on exchange of ideas. This Summit will be a place to share your stories, learn from one another, and then go back to your communities to lead others in the hard work of change. It will also help guide our Foundation as we continue to design programs that connect and support the next generation of young leaders here in the United States and around the globe. Learn more about what's in store, and how you can be a part of it.
Welcome to the next phase of this organization -- inspired by you.
From the day we launched the Foundation, I told you that even as we experiment, even as we try and fail as humans do, there would be one constant in our work -- our commitment to progress.
Democracy is a job for all of us. What are you going to do about it?
I've never been more certain that we'll rise to the occasion -- together.
Foundation response to questions and misinformation from the public passed along to the Foundation in Oct-Nov 2017. Read in PDF
To the members of the Jackson Park Advisory Council:
Thank you for reaching out to let me know about the rumors that have been going around about the Obama Presidential Center (OPC). We recognize there are honest questions, but there are also some people who are using this process to further their own agenda. It’s helpful to have JPAC in place as truth tellers who have cared about Jackson Park for years—before there was any idea about the Obama Presidential Center coming to the South Side. We have appreciated the opportunity to work with you and learn from you, and we look forward to many years together as neighbors and advocates for historic and beautiful Jackson Park.
We have thought considerably about how we can take this opportunity—with 700,000 visitors coming to the OPC every year—to boost local businesses on the South Side. We also think considerably about how to protect the historic legacy of the park. Locating the parking facility on the Midway Plaisance supports both of those goals. By ensuring that OPC visitors will arrive on foot, we increase the likelihood visitors will patronize local businesses before and after their visit. It also allows us to keep cars out of Jackson Park, improving the park experience for all.
One of the reasons we began our public conversations as early as we have is because we want to hear directly from South Side residents what they want in the OPC. For instance, we know that the Cheney-Goode Memorial on the Midway Plaisance has a special place in our history, which is why we are working with our architects to determine how the bench can be reintegrated into an honorific position within the re-imagined landscape. In fact, because the Midway Plaisance is so underutilized today, many do not even know of the Cheney-Goode Memorial. Far from removing it, we will have an opportunity to elevate its stature and provide the recognition we would love for it to have.
Regarding Cornell, our vision is to create a park that is safe for children to run and play, establishes more connectivity to Lake Michigan and the Lagoon for visitors to enjoy, and restores the interconnectivity of the park. With our proposed plan, we seek to create a cultural destination that is every bit as strong as institutions we see in other parts of the City.
What follows are the specific facts that speak to the rumors you are hearing.
The Cheney-Goode Memorial will be covered or removed. The Cheney-Goode Memorial will be preserved and its stature elevated.
Removing Cornell will result in children walking along and falling into the Lagoon. Our walking paths are a safe distance from the edge of the lagoon. We are highly suspect of anyone who argues that keeping a major thoroughfare in the middle of the park is the safest solution for children.
OPC visitors will disturb the natural habitats of birds within the park. Jackson Park is one of the top birding destinations in the state and we will protect its legacy. Our landscape team is studying the habitats of birds who frequent the park and offering solutions for attracting more birds and protecting their habitats in the park.
The parking facility will be visible above the Canadian Railway tracks from the west. There will be an appropriate height relationship between the parking facility and existing train embankment. With the new elevated park space, we will create a lookout that invites park goers to appreciate the entirety of the Midway, looking over the Midway to the Fountain of Time and into Washington Park.
The barbecue area will have noisy cookouts and disturb neighbors. We cannot deny that people will come to the OPC to have fun. In fact, we’re thinking a lot about how to make sure they do! The activities being discussed for the parkspace at the Midway will be scaled in a way that will not attract large groups of people at single moments in time.
The garage entrance will affect access to Lab preschool. The parking facility entrance and exit will be on the Midway Plaisance. There will be no changes or additional traffic generated on 59th and 60th Streets, which are the primary access routes to the Lab School.
The Wooded Isle will become part of the OPC and privatized or closed to the public. This is completely false, and the Wooded Isle will remain under the purview of the Chicago Park District.
I hope the answers above help clear up some misconceptions that have been raised by residents and other users of historic Jackson Park. I encourage you to share these answers with other members of the community as these topics come up. In the future, please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any more questions about the Center or if you hear something that does not quite add up. We want to make sure people in the community are not misled by those with their own agendas—and that in the end, we build a Center that functions in harmony with this community that President and Mrs. Obama love so much.
Vice President of Civic Engagement
The following were held. In December a new set of meetings will be announced, with options. December 7 and 11, 6-9 pm at South Shore Cultural Center.
Note- the Section 196 et al Historic Review is a this stage for a Task Force, but individuals can be added. Visit https://tinyurl.com/JPImprovements.
(Not Sept. 21) September 25, Monday, times tba prob. 4-8 pm. Chicago Park District, Obama Foundation and JP Golf Alliance will present revised plans and take public questions and comments in open format. South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 South Shore Drive. Makeup Sept. 27 at tba.
September 27, Wednesday, 4-8 pm. Chicago Park District, Obama Foundation and JP Golf Alliance will present revised framework and project plans and take public questions and comments in open format. At Stony Island Arts Bank, 6760 S. Stony Island.
September 20, Wednesday, 6 pm is the final plenary meeting before presentation of proposed CBA to the entities, the topical forums having concluded. Hyde Park High School, 6220 S. Stony Island.
Public meetings under CPD were held in June, July, and August covering the start and objectives of South Lakefront Plan framework plan update, the golf proposal and the OBC planning to date. A necessarily short summary of these and concerns raised is in the JULY JPAC NEWSLETTER and pdf version of it. Following is also two summaries by the Foundation including what their take away is. It is not possible here to give the many media and indiviual responses to the meetings-
In August the founddtion held the next in a series of invitation only meetings (this one had a broad spectrum of experts/experienced persons, organizations, and community residents and viewpoints who were presented much more detail of possibilities and critqued them. Changes included that the Foundation would pay for a parking garage on the Midway- but entirely avove gorund with a park-like top and children's play areas beside it, that the proposed remaking of the Perennial Garden would include a gray water treatment basin surrounded by native plantings, no bridge across Stony Island or east to Wooded Island, and no more mention of what might compete with other facilities such as farmer's market. Strongest opposition was to the garage and the replacement of the Perennial Garden, and concerns that the wildlife on the Island could be disturbed, and removal of existing trees. The presenteres promised equal tree replacement, a small and gradual land slopping, and additional natural plantings.
Summary statement of the Foundation June 29, 2017
This past week, 800 Chicagoans joined us at the City of Chicago's public meetings to discuss the future of the Obama Presidential Center and Jackson Park. We also received nearly 400 submissions to our landscape survey, through which Chicagoans shared how they currently use Jackson Park and how they'd like to see it evolve.
Thank you to everyone who has shared feedback with us so far. Your input will inform our next steps and how the Obama Presidential Center and its surrounding landscape can become a place to bring the community together.
We wanted to share just a few of the important insights we learned from you this week:
We heard positive feedback about the mix of amenities being offered -- from the sledding hill to the public lawn, community gardens, and walking paths.
Survey respondents were most interested in a community plaza to host special events and markets; wildlife observation around the Vegetated Basin, Woodland Walk, and Lagoon; and picnics, barbecues, or large outdoor events at the Lawn.
42% of survey respondents walk, bike, or take the bus to visit the park.
There is a strong desire to focus on young people's experience at the Obama Presidential Center, giving youth on the South Side a safe and engaging place to learn and play.
Jackson Park is among the best places in the state to go bird watching, and bird lovers urged us to protect the birds and their natural habitats.
Some residents, and parents in particular, were supportive of creating parkland over Cornell Drive because of concerns about children running and playing close to the six-lane road. Others had concerns about impact on traffic and urged the City of Chicago to consider road improvements that protect commuters from increased travel times.
In the months ahead, we will use this feedback to help guide our next steps and shape our design. We will also be hosting several more meetings with community residents, so keep an eye out for future events.
Working together, President and Mrs. Obama believe we have an opportunity to create a vibrant hub for the community in Jackson Park. We greatly appreciate your willingness to join us in this process and are confident that your input will help strengthen what we are able to do together on Chicago's South Side.
Vice President of Civic Engagement
Statement of the Obama Foundation June 21:
Tonight's meeting is an important one as it will help set the tone for the engagement process that is so critical to the success of our mission. We believe that, working together, we have an opportunity to:
Enhance historic Jackson Park to create a more cohesive park with connectivity to Lake Michigan, creating a hub for the community full of life and vibrancy
Strengthen the economic climate on Chicago's South Side
Update amenities to offer fun and engaging ways to enjoy the park, including a sledding hill; children's play area; public plaza for hosting things like farmer's markets, marching band or social gatherings; public lawn that could host special events like concerts and film screenings or for everyday use for recreation and relaxation.
We encourage you to share your thoughts and make sure your voice is heard at this event. As a reminder, here are the details:
From the Jackson Park Advisory Council JPAC Newsletter July 2017 (June minutes and page 5)
Golf and park coordinating committees. Jerry Levy, chair, said the committees will meet again after the public meetings presenting the engineering and design reports and proposed golf layouts. Alderman Hairston’s golf and park advisory council toured the parks last Thursday. The Alderman spoke of infrastructure and shoreline needs for park and community that should in any case be addressed. CPD Superintendent and CEO Mike Kelly assured that the parks are being evaluated in their entirety, potential plans being coordinated, and public input process being set up leading to comprehensive park plans. He emphasized that the Obama and golf proposals are turning points in really discussing, looking at these parks. Committee members gave feedback.
Meetings started on JP Framework Plan, Obama Center, Golf Course, roads and infrastructure
[This commentary reflects views of its author, Gary Ossewaarde, and not necessarily the Advisory Council]
WHERE TO READ MORE, POST COMMENTS OR TAKE SURVEYS. www.southlakefrontplan.com,
https://go.obama.org/landscape-survey/ www. chicagoparksgolfalliance.org. See also project links on page 1 and Friends of the Parks list of media reports and opinion- from www.fotp.org.
About 600 attended the first of this first set of public meetings at South Shore Cultural Center, 150-200 at that at Hyde Park High School, and a large crowd was turned away from the small venue (75 seats) for the 5th Ward meeting June 27. The meetings started with 15 minute presentations on each of the four subjects by the Park District, Chicago Parks Golf Alliance, Obama Foundation, and Chicago Department of Transportation, with Smith Group/JJR engineering giving parts of the presentation and moderating. These gave background, vision and objectives, general plans, ways the park would change under each, and timelines. Renderings were either preliminary and conceptual or else mostly large scale rather than detailed. The Obama Center, being the smallest site and somewhat further along in design gave the best sense of the envisioned spaces and programming. Engineering studies are just coming in for golf and for roads and circulation along with the first Tiger Woods firm layout proposal for the golf course. It was evident that coordination has just started, in part because major decisions such as on roadway closures or remakes and who would fund underpasses and shoreline work have not yet been made. In addition, the main projects have expanded although they affirmed each is within its acreage footprints and every displaced feature will have 1 for 1 replacement (although for sports there will be a demand study, with some space possibly being outside this park –it is asserted there is not room enough for both all existing and all new things.) (Also, the Park District is mapping, assessing the state of, and costing every feature in the park.) There seemed to be different timelines, with the Obama Center to go before the Chicago Plan Commission as early as November. The golf planning is ongoing and driven by funds raised and desire for a tournament in 2021. The Framework Plan revision is supposed to put out for comment and meetings later in the summer, with process to be wrapped up by the end of the year—perhaps after major projects have received approval and possibly not giving enough time to be well thought out and as reflective as possible of community consensus and felt park needs. Nor has it been shown that much thought has been given yet to what features and activities should be in Jackson and what in other nearby parks.
The presentations were followed at the first two by breakouts with a mostly-digital survey interspersed with periods for comments and questions. Few questions were answered except where there was felt to be a clear misunderstanding, in part because they said a deliberate decision was made to listen before preparing working versions, and in part because there is as yet insufficient information or no decisions. There were comments and strong opinions pro and con on plans in part or in whole.
So, beyond those or informational matters, and assuming the major projects move forward…
What were some of the flashpoints that need to be given persuasive justification or addressed?
--The road closures, especially Cornell between 59th and 63rd Hayes and Midway EB Stony to Cornell and whether shifting to LSD and Hayes will make new problems and what might ameliorate that
--Sports field replacement /placement/how many (new track and field was shown south of the Obama Center)
--Fieldhouse future and site
--How much outdoor programming at the Center and its impact west and to nature areas as well as its incorporation of the present Perennial Garden site--Golf – can it truly stay affordable and serve the spectrum of users including local and stay sustainable and how much the site can be accessed by the general public
--Decision not to move the Driving Range but expand it at cost to tennis courts and dog friendly area and and need for a guarantee not to diminish or impact Bobolink nature area; golf facility encroachment on courts etc on the west side
--Making the golf perimeter and fencing better and more inviting but not putting off communities
--Golf - amount of tree turnover and guarantee of biodiversity and environmental responsibility and gain.
--By far the major issue for South Shore was moving/reconfiguration and full replacement of the nature area.
--Impacts in the neighborhoods
JPAC’s golf committee and the Alderman’s council will assess studies and drawings now in hand.
Available on the Park District website is a press release about the planning process and summarizing planning background for Jackson and South Shore parks (Washington Park and the Midway will be looked at later.)
To take surveys on the Obama Center, visit obama.org or go.obama org. To take a survey on the whole park, visit www.southlakefrontplan.com.
Of great interest is what IDOT will say about Cornell Drive and other road changes, and the Park District's overall vision for Jackson Park. And whether any significant changes will be offered by the Foundation. We should remember that about 80 percent of the park will stay the same, at least functionally. Michael Van Valkenburgh of the design team said to the Tribune that the highway really has to stop isolating parts of the park from each other and that the park should be restored closer to Olmsted's vision--we could recreate a sense of connection and create a seamless transition. "It's an opportunity to restore some of the vision of the Olmsted plans, all the while moving into the 21st century.. understanding what the neighborhood wants to have is part of the process. He said that early studies said changes such as synchronizing lights would prevent an addition to commuting time. A CDOT spokesperson said it would take more than that. Friends of the Parks said it hopes the process is robust and real.
The Tribune noted that entertainment/public enjoyment features in the site and on the possible parking garage west of Stony Island echo (ed.- moving, maybe not?) those in the 2013 Project 120 funded (as revised) proposed Revision of the 1999 Framework Plan. Van Valkenburgh pointe to things for families and children, wooded walking areas extending over toward the Wooded Island and MSI and educational community (?) gardens. (He acknowledges that the latter are complex and hard to make work well.)
At the June 21 meeting, CDOT endorsed the road closures but the matter is not closed, it will not support making things worse, and it is taking input- several at the breakout sessions strongly opposed closure. Mike Strautmanis indicated the change is necessary to making the site work.
Strautmanis framed the Center's park vision as a matter of parks equity, creating the best park in America, realizing it full potential for the public and a people's park, bringing the public into the whole, connected park (a campus). He emphasized that the great majority of th site will remain non-building and the people will stilt be able to use it picnics, and now more including occasional concerts or movies. He went through the the various parts of the design, emphasizing different uses for different users. He emphasized the importance of solving the road issue.
About the Section 106 Historic and Archaeological Review process, which began November 2017. Reports, dates, comment page etc. are in https://tinyurl.com/JPImprovements ("improvements" is a formal term centuries old to refer to any additions, structures etc. on the land (real property).
From November 2017 JPAC minutes:
Environmental and Section 106 review and surveys of historical/archeological resources/ environmental impacts of proposed projects. Eleanor Gorski of the Chicago Department of Planning described the scope of the work, required by law when funds are to be spent in public spaces that are on the National Register of Historic Places (i.e. Jackson and Midway1972) to assess resources and what might be adversity impacted and need mitigation. The two reviews will be led by the Federal Highway Administration, but a host of federal, state and city agencies including EPA and Illinois Archeological Survey are involved. The Chicago Dept. of Planning and Development, with Transportation (together the “Applicant”) will do the heavy lifting of the survey and the task force that includes a large number of Consulting Party (CP) organizations and groups and the public hearing. JPAC is among nearly 60 participating CPs. The boundary of historic resources extends 1 to several blocks beyond Jackson and South Shore parks and Midway Plaisance east of the railway, areas that are or may be eligible to be in historic districts or the National Register. Foundations of former historic structures on the Obama Center proposed footprint, work-affected roadways and a set of spots throughout the park will be bored and probed at the 6’, 12’ and 24’ levels. The physical work (started) is expected to take at least several months. Task Force kickoff invite meeting is December 1. Visit https://tinyurl.com/JPImprovements where reports and meetings will posted and comments taken. Members said they welcome not only the review itself and the chance for the public to weigh in on a new set of matters but also the opportunity to learn more of the park’s great past, many incarnations, and design principles.
Continuing in the December 2017 JPAC Newsletter:
The next meeting on the South Framework Plan, this time with three scenario options regarding proposed changes will occur twice, December 7, Thursday, and December 11, Monday, both 6-9 p.m. at South Shore Cultural Center. “Each option will highlight different aspects of the parks while offering a balance of uses that provide the greatest public benefit. The criteria for developing these options were based on public input collected during the first two phases of the planning process. At these meetings, planners will also present the vision and guiding principles for the project. Meeting participants will have the opportunity to analyze, question, and comment on the proposed options. Park planners will engage with the community during the public forum to determine strengths and preferences of the various plans.”
Related- The Obama Foundation, its plans are being refined utilizing public comments and will not be submitted to the Chicago Plan Commission before some time next year. They apparently are waiting for what the reviews (see below) show. The golf consolidation process is also pushed back.
As requested at the October JPAC meeting, we submitted to the parties a number of questions and feared scenarios about the various proposed changes to the park. Many of the inventories, such as tree removals or placement are not complete, or being put into GPS database, or not yet available, or decisions need to be coordinated with the environmental and historical reviews. The options presented at the December Framework meetings may reveal more of where thinking could be heading or can be influenced. The Obama Foundation sent JPAC an extended letter and table of answers that is attached to the electronic Newsletter and will be available at the December meeting or from the Secretary. We are asking additional questions.
Section 106 historical and archaeological review of park resources and proposal impacts was started and a Task Force kickoff meeting was held December 1. (Watch for a similar, coterminous process for the NEPA Environmental Review to be announced.) See more details in the November minutes above and in the extensive power point online at https://tinyurl.com/JPImprovements where comments-- including about specific or missed historical resources in the park can be submitted. Admittance to the small hall was mostly limited to 2 representatives from each the many Consulting Parties, although there was a live-streaming overflow room (not full). The presentation was quite detailed and the floor was opened to many questions about process and specifics and statements, some expressing strong support for or else skepticism about the proposals and/ or their potential effects on the historic features.
Some of the comments: Golf and South Shore Cultural Center footprints have to be in this or have a review- please clarify. The rest of the Midway should be included in the study area. The site has shifted- please study that. Are the costs a potential damage? It’s exciting to see everybody interested in Jackson Park because we think it’s an amazing place- Olmsted would be proud. These reviews cannot be successful without knowing the tree etc. loses, gains and changes. Will the review consider effects of road changes including on access to harbors? The Obama Center will partner with Hyde Park High for a great gain. Jackson Park Highlands survey overwhelmingly supported the Center; I view the Museum building as a beacon of hope and change. It’s good the process is happening but it needs to answer all the questions and deal with all the concerns. If a large set of adverse effects are found, could there be a basis to recommend cancellation/movement elsewhere? (answer- this process does not provide for a go/no go recommendation but requirement to fix found problems before work can co forward). Michal Strautmanis of the Foundation told the Tribune after the meeting, “.. we saw a lot of interest and a lot of excitement. What could be seen as an arcane historic review process… we had people who are interested in the process come participate…. That type of civic engagement is exciting.”
The next steps for the project are to identify historic resources and their eligibility (under criteria) and the “Area of Potential Effect” including an inventory with eligibility determinations, and to review these with the consulting parties. After: to assess found adverse effects (which also have criteria) and review and resolve towards a recommendation, public hearings and Memoranda of Agreement. The next sets of meetings are for the Task Force teams with the consulting parties.
The potential inventory sites to be evaluated in the “Currently Identified Historic Features” includes these 27 structure
1. Iowa Building. 2. Music Court Comfort Station. 3. Bowling Green Clubhouse. 4. Music Court Bridge.
5. East Bridge (Clarence Darrow). 6. Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago landmark). 7. Perennial Garden. 8. Cheney-Goode Memorial Bench. 9. 59th Street Viaduct. 10. Masaryk Monument. 11. Linne Monument. 12. English Comfort Station. 13. Japanese Garden. 14. Shelter/Comfort Station at Driving Range. 15. 59th Street Inlet Bridge. 16. Middle Bridge on Hayes Dr. 17. Southern Shore Yacht Club. 18. Coast Guard Station. 19. Statue of the Republic (Chicago Landmark). 20. Cecil Partee Golf Shelter. 21. Maintenance Building. 22. Jackson Park Field House. 23. Jackson Park Yacht Club. 24. La Rabida Children’s Hospital.
25. Golf Shelter (at Promontory Drive). 26. South Haven (Animal) Bridge. 27. 63rd Street Beach House (Chicago Landmark).
15 of these are buildings and structures, 6 are bridges, and 4 are monuments.
In addition, the following Landscape Features are listed:
Circulation Roads and Paths. Golf Course. Berms and Sunken Lawn Panels. Historic Walks and Balustrades. Paved Granit Beach. Japanese Garden (also listed above), Perennial Garden (also listed above), and Naturalistic Designs including plantings and waterway systems, lagoons and Islands.
Link to March 13 2017 article on proposed development corporation for Woodlawn, South Shore and Washington Park of which the Obama Foundation would be a member and that would administer the community and economic development part in the neighborhoods (outside the Center and park): https://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20170313/jackson-highlands/barack-obama-presidential-library-woodlawn-washington-park-south-shore/
An article in Chicago Sun-Times March 17 2017 is short but relatively balanced though leaning toward the KOKO-led (Oakland-based) with STOP and Prayer and action Collective coalition that wants the president/Foundation (and some say U of C) to sign their CBA vs. others that want other approaches including the org. referenced above.
Herald (online) article by Christopher Amati- http://hpherald.com/2017/03/16/community-organizations-come-together-to-denounce-obama-presidential-center-cba-proposal/
Mike Strautmanis of the Obama Library Center addresses Woodlawn Summit March 18 2017
First, he said, the center is to be global, and urban and a community center and experience center that will build citizen engagement—train in how to engage and have an impact, as well as serve needs of the South Side communities. It will tell and build connection not just with the First Family’s story but the South Side’s Story. They don’t just want people to come and take ideas out into their communities, but also for there to be pathways and corridors for people to visit in the communities themselves. The designs will come, and there have been a lot of small and larger meetings, but a best plan for input is still under development. The Foundation seeks strong input into the design and program of the Center—there has not been much on their website from local people so far—people telling their stories and needs, and asks residents to visit http://go.obama.org/hometown.
For hiring and other direct involvement that will lead to sustainable careers, enterprises, and development, Strautmanis urged new approaches beyond a high standard and high targets.
Attendees spoke for a vision of the Center as an educator and human development engine. Attendees brought up the idea of a community benefits agreement, and there was much support and also skepticism. Strautmanis said he would continue to meet with the coalition groups seeking a multi-topic CBA, but he indicated he thinks there are better ways and encouraged thinking of benefits as broadly as possible. GMO
Foundation leadership, contacts. Donors. Back to meetings
Meetings starting et al.
Updates- recent late summer 2017
About/when can we expect more community meetings, planning? SEE AT LINK
Concept design unveiled May 2017
Ald. Hairston sends important public letter to OPC Foundation for engagement, coordination Feb 2017, sets up advisory committee.
JPAC sets up collab. committee to review and seek coordination park-wide among projects) other planning efforts underway)
RFP issued for general contractor
Architect, landscape and design teams - Roadways just one of the challenges
Where we are now. July 27, 2016 forward: MORE.
Foundation rep. comes to HPKCC mtg. 8/4/16, JPAC starting in Sept.
Next steps. (prospects for a CBA?- link to coalition for: ObamaCBA.org/principles)
Foundation asks for ideas on the Center promoting citizenship, tells themes.
The Foundation has been very busy putting flesh on the mission of social impact on the neighborhoods and greater South Side with a new council on benefits headed by Arnie Duncan and J.? Wright, an RFP spelling out hiring etc. rules - contract release is expected soon, folding in the My Brother's Keeper foundation into the Obama Foundation, putting out a series of small video interviews with locals showing positive things being done by South Siders, public meetings and more.
To The Grand History of the site.
Read January 12 2015 Jackson Park Advisory Council open Q and A on the Library.
May 12 2015 Obama Presidential Center (Library) News Conference - find it posted at http://www.barackobamafoundation.org.
To see the Obamas' video, go to http://act.barackobamafoundation.org/obamas-message.
Link to the downloadable draft City of Chicago Ordinance of land transfer (Note- proposed legislation is always in a special City Clerk's office website) https://chicago.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=3452499&GUID=7CBCA487-833C-4828-B455-66C1CCD10E3F
January 2017. Just before leaving office, Barrack Obama sent a message to those on his list asking for ideas for engagement and the Center and Library-- https://go.obama.org/add-your-voice. The home site-( www.obama.org
or https://go.obama.org/ if you want it secure such as to comment or give) both work.
It incorporates with more material and supersedes barackobamafoundation.org. and my.barrackobamafoundation.org/.
Or use https://www.obama.org/your-voice or https://go.obama.org/hometown for submitting comments.
Here is his message, contained also in a video appeal:
You're among the very first to join Michelle and me in this next phase.
So, thank you — it's been the honor of our lives to serve eight years in the White House, and we're both energized to join you as private citizens and work with you to help shape the future for generations to come.
But first, we're going to take a short break. We'll take some time to be with family, maybe get some sleep — and really just be still for a little while.
In the meantime, we would love to hear from you. Send us your ideas, your hopes, your dreams about what we can achieve.
This Foundation will be a product of your ideas and ours together, and we're going to experiment. We'll try things and fail and succeed and learn along the way. But the constant will be the depth of our commitment to progress.
And like the early days, we'll be based on the South Side of Chicago, but we'll have programs all across the city, the country, and the world.
True democracy is a project that's much bigger than any one of us. It's bigger than any one person, any one president, and any one government. It's a job for all of us. And we've got to keep at it.
We'd love to hear from you. Please share your ideas here:
Thank you, and we'll see you all again soon.
And as reported in the Tribune by Kathy Bergen: The new website is heavy on details about the President's and First Lady's lives and their story of presidency highlights-- in several layers. The brief video asked for submission of grand themes and individuals that can be used to highlight the themes and or who can help shape the library and museum and programming and to help personally with "just one of the projects we're excited to work on." They ask belief not just in their ability but in "yours". The overall theme, the Obamas said, is to foster active citizenship. "Send us your ideas, your hopes, your beliefs about what we can achieve together. Tell us about the young leaders adn companies and organizations tha inspire you. This will be your presidential center just as much as it is ours."
The site stresses that even small donations are encouraged.
Chairman Martin Nesbitt (c/o The Vistria Group, 300 E. Randolph).
CEO David Simas*.
Executive Director Robbin Cohen.
Director of planning and construction Roark Frankel.
Project manager Christopher Brooks.
Development Chief of Staff- Jamie Citron (see below)
Strategic Initiatives- Jamie-Claire Flaherty
(*Mid December 2016 President Obama selected top aide and political advisor and operative David Simas as CEO of the Foundation. This signals start of the more active phase of fundraising and organizational expansion. Mr. Simas will return to Chicago with his family. He said he is dedicated to a Center that engages people for big changes, economic development, and inspiring generations of visitors.)
Principal contact: Vice President of Civic Engagement Michael Strautmanis
5235 S. Harper Court, Chicago, IL 60615
VP for Civic Engagement, OPL
Barack Obama Foundation
5235 S. Harper Court, Suite 1140
Chicago, IL 60615
Chief Development Officers (including re donations) Jordan Kaplan, but also Jamie Citron
773-420-1622/ mobile- 615-513-6849 email@example.com.
Address as for Foundation
Foundation Board (most recently appointed in November 2016 is former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who is a native Chicago South Sider and close ally of the President, and managing director of Bain Capital. As listed in the Sun-Times, the volunteer members are
Martin Nesbitt, Chairman
J. Kevin Poorman
John (W.) Rogers, (Jr.)
In April 2017, former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett (the only one who lasted the entire administration?), newly joined the board of Ariel Investments, was named to the Foundation board. As an advisor, she will work pro bono with both the President and Mr Nesbitt and Mr. Simas on fundraising, programming development, and building support for the Center, working from both DC and Chicago. She sees definite connections to her other work for women's and girls' equality, criminal justice reform, the ACA, and diversity in business
Mid May Glenn Brown was placed in charge of digital efforts- not just publicity and outreach but planning the youth training program.
Inclusion/Diversity Council named October 11, 2016 (more may be added) For information, statements of purpose go to the Foundation Site.) This council seems primarily directed to general outreach and fundraising. And this appears to be separate from the Advisory Board named by the Mayor and affected aldermen and to be headed by Andrea Zopp.
Connie Lindsey (Northern Trust)
Melody Spann Cooper (WVON)
William D. Von Hoene (Excelon)
Ken Bennett (Choose Chicago)
Merca Bristo (Access Living)
Ellen-Blair Chube (William Blair)
Jamie Citron (Obama Foundation Dev. Chief of Staff)
Evelyn Diaz (Heartland Foundation)
Sidney Dillard (Loop Capital)
Brett Hart (United)
Perri Irmer (DuSable Museum)
Weldon Latham (Jackson Lewis, council lead attorney)
Langdon Neal (Neal and Leroy)
Nadia Quarles (UC Bus Dev)
Laura Ricketts (Chicago Cubs)
Eli Williamson (Leave No Veteran Behind)
Bernarda Wong (Chinese American Service League)
The larger post-Presidency team and objectives.
Chief of staff is Anita Decker Breckenridge. Valerie Jarrett is expected to take a highly active role both with the post-presidency and the Obama Center.
As tod by Valerie Jarrett to the press, Mr. Obama's top priorities (after vacation) are expected reported to be speaking out on the Affordable Care Act, district gerrymandering, and the Dreamers. Activities will be mentoring emerging and future Democratic leaders, keeping a line open to the new President, and fundraising and preparing for the Center. Both the Obamas are soliciting speaking engagements and are expected to write their memoirs. (If you want to make a speaking "ask," start with the All American Speakers Bureau.
MEETINGS, EVENTS etc. They are in the small and organization meeting stage, and invitation-only stakeholder meetings convened by Bishop Rev. Byron Brazier of Apostolic Church.
3 public meetings scheduled so far:
June 21, Wednesday, 6 pm. 1st of 3 public meetings about the Obama Center plans and golf consolidation. New information and public input and ideas. South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 SouthShore Drive. Next June 24, 27
June 24, Saturday, 10 am. 2nd of 3 public meetings about the Obama Center plans and golf consolidation. New information and public input and ideas. Hyde Park High School, 6220 S. Stony Island.
June 27, Tuesday, 6 pm. 5th Ward monthly meeting. La Rabida Hospital. This is the 3rd of 3 public meetings about the Obama Center plans and golf consolidation. New information and public input and ideas. La Rabida Children's Hospital, 6501 S. Promontory Drive.
Watch for the Foundation to appear at or hold meetings as the summer progresses.
President Obama, design team unveil concept design and program for the Center May 3, 2017. GO
Links to other views and m ore details
The main developments in May 2017 so far have been 1. unveiling of the initial design concept and model,
2. Showing and stakeholder/experienced discussion of initial landscaping, and
3. Clarification that the Foundation and Center will not take National Archives and Records Agency funds, be not part of the Presidential Library System and will be free (to the extent allowed) of NARA restrictions, and will not be the repository of the physical records but only of digital access and temporary exhibits. (It was initially reported that the NARA would do the digitalization). It is called a Center, not a Library. The Foundation also released its economic impact and cost projection report.
Also, more is being disclosed about a proposed community development corporation.
May 3, 2017 at South Shore Cultural Center supporters and leaders of stakeholder groups held an invitation-only media event and discussion of the concept plan. A model and drawings were on view and the President shared his vision then took three questions-- not really answered but upon which he and the design team elaborated upon their inspiration and ideas and how they expected it to serve the community, starting now. Neither the design or the programming are set in stone and will be subject to much public input, they said.
As summarized in a Sun-Times release, the theme of Obama was, 'It's about hope' and inspiration. As for the plan, architect Dina Griffin said the design called for creating just one tall Museum building [up to 180 feet), and having two other 1-story buildings, a Forum overlooking a plaza and a Library, each covered with landscape, picnic areas, and community gardens Separately,
Friends of the Parks said it has not yet had time to review and again called for more comprehensive planning (which judging from its own release is heavily under way- once studies and coordination including with many groups are ready, a larger process can begin.)
The key takeaways are:
1. The Center is to be much more than a library (not a repository of records) and museum but a community programming center, especially for families and children including community and children's garden, sledding hill, a possible branch public library, and a new fieldhouse/recreation center (which along with a replacement track and field is expected to revert to the Chicago Park District), plazas and more for concerts, talks, community gatherings. It will have community meeting facilities and workshop areas to train the future leaders, teach trades and skills, including recording studios to which leading artists/musicians would come to lead workshops. Indeed, families would be welcome to survey the park and surroundings all the way to the loop from the landscaped roof deck of the main, signature building. The Center would be both a destination and a welcome and visitor's center for the park. The suggested parking garage (not part of the Center?) west of Stony would have a ramped bridge across Stony to the plaza and Musuem.
The design will be LEED v4 Platinum, take up 200,000 sq ft. but add green lawns to the park.
Some respected media critics called the design, especially of the Museum as a good beginning but needing work. Few thought the first model of he Museum very good. For the site, the model was already out of date and more changes were announced by the next week.
2. This is definitely more than a Center plopped down in a park, or a theft and sequestering off of parkland. It opens into and calls into the park. A goodly part of the space is landscape or plaza and, with a Cornell Drive segment removed, has broad pedestrian paths to the lagoons, Wooded Island, and the Museum of Science and Industry. With parking in a partially underground connected structure west of Stony it connects to the Midway and the Metra. (This is not a formal part of the Foundation grounds or plan; if it cannot be then parking will be under the children's/library section.) To the north, a pool with fountain will be inset in a re-done Perennial Garden.
The Center is porous and not separated from the park or surrounded by a security perimeter.
About two-thirds of the 21 acre footprint from 60th St. to 63rd is taken up by the Center, the rest by a new fieldhouse and the replacement track and artificial turf field (down to 63rd)--these will be across from Hyde Park High. The softball field is lost, but (not on the drawings) one of the soccer fields on 63rd will become a multi-purpose field. Also not brought up, if a new fieldhouse is located by the Center, the present one could be converted back to greenspace.
A drawback that has been drawn to the attention of the designers is that the connections into Woodlawn and the high school are weak, seeming to suggest an orientation to Hyde Park and the University of Chicago (where a 15 story hotel and an 8+ story zazzy conference center were announced a few days later for 60th street 2-3 blocks west of Stony. Also, the footprint was changed to go to 59th (incorporating the existing Perennial Garden into basin (as was originally conceived by Olmsted) and fountain. Traffic would go only around the north end of this, at the current 59th/North Midway segment between Cornell and Stony. Presumably, the area with proposed fieldhouse (later promised) and track would revert to the CPD to keep the footprint under 21 acres-- the path replacing Cornell and land down to the lagoon, even if landscaped by or with the Foundation, would also be park district land. The design teams say that about 5 acres of parkland would be gained by replacing Cornell-- but that could result in some loss along a possibly widened Stony Island.
This writer thinks there are subtle bows to history by the siting itself-- including the Columbian Exposition's women's building-- (women's struggle), women's hospital (healthcare and by stretch Obamacare?), children's building (struggle for children's rights and care and end of child labor), and horticulture building (reflected in the new gardens and Michelle's efforts on nutrition and child obesity). At least these historic connections were pointed out to the Foundation earlier. The new track will be near Olmsted's track and men's and women's gymnasia--one of the first spaces built in the park after the Fair.
3. The site is definitely structure-intensive, intentionally to provide a South Side similarity to Lincoln Park, Millennium Park, and Museum Campus-- indeed to be part of a "Museum Campus South" with MSI and DuSable. And many will not like that even if (or maybe especially if) the Center bleeds into and welcomes into the park.
Some will be put off by the covering over, landscaping or not, and the height of the signature Center building-- together the structures provide both "tall" and "sprawl" even if separated structures spread over the whole site is avoided. Many also will not want so much close to the natural area /lagoon even if the noise and busyness of Cornell Drive is removed. Some in the media called it "Obamaland."
4. Heavy programming (the part about barbecuing, food trucks, events and concerts/public presence and activity) is envisioned, some of it to this writer seeming over-the-top and needing to be managed so as to not affect wildlife and neighbors. That kind of programming also will offend many, but can perhaps be negotiated down. The President justified this under an appeal to Frederick Law Olmsted's vision of parks as for people-- Obama views the park as underused, especially for youth (without noting Olmsted's other dictum of parks as lungs for the city.
The height will also be a problem for many, and is IN a park--how does it relate to Olmsted's vision of expanses and vistas, including that it will cast shadows, including on Wooded Island and possibly the Midway. And some will like that glass is minimized (including for birds), or the suggestion of ancient Egyptian monuments may be liked or not.
The closure of Cornell Drive and possible resultant traffic congestion (despite denials and despite the community opposition to a widened Cornell 40 years ago in the first place) will also be controversial. The idea of closure was pushed by Obama, partly to create a campus with the MSI, provide access to Wooded Island, and because with Cornell Drive in place there are serious limits to what can be done on the site, especially for kids activities. May 15 The Chicago Tribune called upon the Foundation to come up with a road plan the serves commuters and communities.
5. ASIDE FROM THE PHYSICAL LAYOUT, OBAMA PUT FIRST THE PRIME PROGRAM-- not to look to the past glorifying him or the archive record and museum, but to be an ENGINE FOR THE FUTURE-- TO TRAIN THE LEADERS OF THE FUTURE IN CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AND ACTIVISM AND YOUTH AND OLDER FOR CAREERS including in the trades.
Programs for youth include recording and filming studio and the arts, so youth can set forth their issues and ambitions.
TO THAT END, THE PROGRAM STARTS NOW, perhaps by a combination of online and off-site facilities, even though the Center won't be opened for another 4 years.
THE OBAMAS ARE PERSONALLY GIVING $2 M TO THE CHICAGO (AND COUNTY) YOUTH SUMMER JOBS PROGRAM. This will go to The Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance (of Chicago Community Trust) and One Summer Chicago 2017.
6. The President was highly generous in his goals for Minority and Women participation, both firms and workers, 80% for some. And part of the program starting now will be career- and skill-building programs for both the trades and firms (including in architecture). He estimated about 3,000 construction and 200+ permanent jobs for the nearby neighborhoods alone. He was frank about how the goals are often evaded in Chicago and the work has to be done in a quality way- meaning training and preparation have to start now. He also gave thoughtful if not innovative views (this observer thought) about redevelopment in the community and ways in which more people can be a boon and the Center, thoughtfully designed, can encourage people to visit and spend in the community and not just get in their cars and drive away.
This was Obama's second visit to Chicago since leaving office - on the first he met with at-risk youth and spoke at an event downtown. That day he was also scheduled to speak to the Civic Club, and of course was meeting with the Foundation and donors. He said he will be back often.
There also continued to be calls for a community benefits agreement, in line, it was said, with Obama's background as a community organizer.
Foundation puts out RFP for Construction Management Firm. visit https:.//www.obama.org/request-qualifications-construction-manager-general-contractor.
Landscape architecture team meets with stakeholders May 10.
The team of Michael Van Valkenburgh, Heidi Natura's Living Habitats, and Jimmy Wong held an engaging discussion with a select group of stakeholders and landscape and garden experienced (including Chicago Botanic Garden) at Washington Park Refectory May 10. After extensive explanation of preliminary plans and graphics (already slightly out of date- for example a drop off area has been added on Stony), the team asked a series of questions to which audience responded and in turn answered many questions and took suggestions. The team seems to have looked at all the bases, although they did not yet have all the answers, such as to the best ways to activate community gardens and make them truly community or to connect the south part of the site to Woodlawn. The models and discussion showed the extent to which slope and elevation are used, extensive lawns and plaza, and how things are helped to be visually and physically connected. There were cautions, such as about over-activating the site (especially with its proximity to Wooded Island). But the audience seemed to be highly pleased and confident in the team -- about as informed, sensitive, and unstuffy as one could hope.
Another try: May 10 a large but select group (ranging from local organization leaders and stakeholders to Friends of the Parks and Chicago Botanic Gardens adn other landscape and natural landscapes experts) met at the Washington Park Refectory with the Landscape Design team for the Center--Michael Van Valkenburgh, Heidi Natura of Living Habitats, and Ernie Wong-- the last 2 are South Siders. They explained much of the rationale behind each element and integration, including the visitor's perspective and experience, and reasons Cornell Drive should go. Changes and adjustments were already underway and would continue. He asked the group's input on a number of options, and their concerns and ideas. One was that there needs to be better connection and invitation to Woodlawn- not easy with the railroad and the low income housing across the street. The team seemed very open and discerning, and very attuned to Olmsted.
Not a physical archives or part of the Presidential Libraries system or under National Archives and Records Agency (NARA) -or so it seems.
Obama and team had said at the May 3, 2017 design unveiling that the physical records (as opposed to memorabilia) would remain at a separate site maintained by NARA and that NARA had undertaken to digitalize the records and to make them (the non-classified ones) available online. (He did NOT say "exclusively" at the Center.) Small temporary exhibits of materials would be available as the Center-- it was not clear what of the special security, display, and other requirements of NARA would have to be provided.
As media asked questions and learned more from NARA and the Foundation over the next few days (including from the impact statement released May 11), it became more clear that under an agreement still under negotiation with NARA, the Foundation and Center WILL NOT BE PART OF THE PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARIES SYSTEM (or share in that prestige), WILL NOT RAISE THE ENDOWMENT of 60 percent of construction costs now required of libraries (that had been 20% before Obama), WILL NOT TAKE A SHARE OF THE $65m ANNUALLY PROVIDED FOR PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARIES- or have to pay a share for maintenance to NARA, AND WILL NOT HAVE TO FOLLOW (any? some? all?) the rules and governance of NARA including the structures' architectural and design standards. This could speed up the project. The architectural team told the Tribune that the design of the library building is no longer current because of these changes.
Darleen Glanton in the Tribune praised the decision and said it will free the Foundation and Center to do and be more for teh South Side adn Chicago.
May 11 the Foundation also released its (hefty and first) economic impact and cost study. Its projections included $2.1 billion on the South Side during construction and the first 10 years of operation. That level assumes, inter alia, 625,000 to 760,000 visitors a year. Also reported to be in the study: Construction will create c1,400 jobs bringing $86M to the South Side and $49M in taxes for the south tide and $2M for Cook County.
Similar estimates for ongoing operations for jobs, input into communities and businesses, and taxes are also projected over 5 and 10 years.
Cost for the Center through opening is forecast in the study to be $675M.
Also becoming clear is the major role of the Chicago Community Trust, working in conjunction with the Foundation and the University of Chicago, Rev. Brazier's 1Woodlawn/Network of Woodlawn. The Trust seeks to set up and partially fund a NFP Community Development Corporation to manage change and distribute funds for projects to revitalize the Woodlawn, Washington Park, and South Shore neighborhoods. This organization is being shopped and opposed. Supporters say we have to direct funds ourselves to be sure of the benefits and that current residents will not be driven out by rising housing costs and taxes.
February 2017 Alderman Hairston sends a letter to the Obama Foundation asking more engagement
More transparency on Obama library planning needed. As reported by Kathy Bergen in Chicago Tribune Feb. 14, 2017
(Ald. Hairston sent a letter to the Foundation saying the latter is not sharing enough information on how South Side residents will benefit.) "My primary concern is how the Obama Foundation plans to engage the community in the transformation of these neighborhoods.... Residents would like to know what is the plan for community outreach." (She also called for integrating planning for the Library with that for the golf courses conversion. She acknowledged that several groups are meeting, asking for CBAs.) "Without communication from the foundation, this can be detrimental to the Obama Presidential Center and the city of Chicago. This is not what everybody wants or what the foundation needs."
(Michael Strautmanis for the Foundation says in agreement,) "While our work has only just begun, we are committed to gathering robust community input at every step of the process. The Obama Presidential Center will be transformative for our community, creating jobs and spurring economic development across the area."
(Hairston said what is wanted is jobs in planning, architecture, construction , operations and professional services, customer services, event planning and concessions and job training for all of these plus concessions and retail opportunities, an early childhood education in science-technology-math.)
Here is the letter (whose tone is more nuanced than in the article above), as from Hyde Park Herald- Open letter to Obama Presidential Center from 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston.
It is undeniable the reality of the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park is welcome news. For for too long, there has been little or no investment in South Side communities. So, the prospect of the OPC as an ongoing memorial of our nations's first black president is sure to be an economic generator for the neighboring communities of East Hyde Park, North South Shore and East Woodlawn, which I represent.
I foresee the OPC having an impact on these South Side communities similar to what the Clinton Presidential Center had on the downtown area of Little Rock, Arkansas, which was largely an old boarded-up warehouse district. The$160-million complex reportedly spurred another $700 million of commitments in other downtown projects. Already, we are seeing interest in these neighborhoods from outside developers. Also, the prospect of converting Jackson Park-South Shore golf courses into a PGA-caliber destination would not be as immediate if it were not for the OPC.
My primary concern is how the Obama Foundation plans to engage the community in the transformation of these neighborhoods. Resident would like to know what is the plan for community outreach. They want to know who will be responsible for vetting and making decisions for all aspects of the OPC, including operations. Obviously, the Foundation has the last word, but it is imperative to forge a working relationship that is transparent, honest, respectful, productive and protective of the African-American legacies of the OPC, residents an these communities.
Specifically, residents are interested in 1) jobs in planning, architecture, construction, operations and professional services; 2) job training programs that will prepare workers in the construction trades, customer services, event planning, and as independent contractors; 3) direct and indirect cocessi8on an retail opportunities; and 4) early childhood education in STEM. As we move from a work that uses skilled labor to one of computers and robotics, there needs to be a dedicated effort to develop a workforce who builds, trains, operates and maintains all equipment associated with th day-to-day operations of the OPC.
While not all-inclusive, these are just a few of the issues that need to be addressed by the Foundation. There also is the issue of how the proposed golf course and OPC will be integrated. They should be planned together. They are both a part of Jackson Park and residents would like to have a comprehensive picture of how transportation, park use and recreation will be addressed. This is what I call "community and connections."
Currently, there are a number of groups--inside and outside teh community--meeting and organizing to make demands of the Foundation. Without communication from the Foundation, this can be detrimental to the OPC and the City of Chicago. This is not what anybody wants or what the Foundation needs.
I realize that there may be far more pressure for community engagement with the OPC, than with other presidential centers. Given the urban setting and the history of President Barack Obama to the the city's South Side, it is urgent that he leaves a lasting legacy of how his Center benefited surrounding communities without displacing indigenous residents. It could serve as a model for how all development, taking place in underserved communities, should benefit the rooted residents an not the new transplants. I am prepared to assist you in every way possible to make the legacy the President and First Lady desire for their community.
February 15, 2017 Mr. Obama met with the Foundation and several stakeholders at Foundation hq in Harper Court and at the Hyatt Place Hyde Park, starting the process of fundraising, planning, and engagement for the Center. There were 4 meetings, one of them with community leaders. Among the fundraising conclaves were with Lester Crown and with Penny Pritzker and Brian Traubert.
The community leaders included Ald. Hairston, Toni Preckwinkle, Dr. Byron Brazier (Apostolic), Rev. Leon Finney (Metropolitan), Rev. Richard Tolliver (St. Edmonds), and Rev. Torrey Barrett (KLEO), Shari Runner of the Chicago Urban League, and reps from South Shore Chamber of Commerce.
Regarding the community leaders conclave, Valerie Jarrett told the Sun-Times, "the president was very eager to hear suggestions from the community and to continue the dialogue with his team after he left."
Several groups are engaging in comprehensive planning to develop coordinated plans. Some are planning mainly for benefits for communities (written or not), others for the parks or for both. It is to be hoped that most of these will agree, will include a forward vision of the park, and be able to accommodate reasonable major changes while keeping the historic high vision of the parks.
At its February 13 2017 meeting, Jackson Park Advisory Council voted to establish a committee for park and projects planning and coordination. This committee will include representatives from proposing, planning and oversight agencies such as the Park District and the City, the Alderman's Office, and select stakeholder bodies and persons. The meetings will be closed to the press. The first meeting in early March concentrated on update reports from teh Obama Foundation and the Golf Alliance and comments on what the community wants to see as the planning progresses. Next meeting is in May.
Friends of the Parks position as of May 10 2017- there may be changes.
...we are now dealing with plans to locate the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park. Friends of the Parks will continue to remind people that while we are thrilled that Chicago has the opportunity to host the Obamas' legacy, we don't agree that it should take up public parkland. However, we do not see a realistic legal strategy to combat it, and do not plan to sue. That also puts us in a difficult position, with folks on both ends of the spectrum challenging our strategy and our principles. We stand ready to take the heat and will carefully utilize our leadership position to promote the best possible outcome for this historic, Frederick Law Olmsted-designed, jewel of a park. We work every day to engage the Obama Foundation and a wide range of stakeholders in conversation and to call for transparent and comprehensive park planning for Jackson Park and South Shore Cultural Center.
July 27, 2016. Jackson Park selected for the Obama Library.
Read the official Foundation Release, July 29, 2016.
Statement by the President and the Foundation 7/29/16
Obama Foundation Announces Jackson Park as Site of the Obama Presidential Center 7/29/16.
To meeting with HPKCC. To community and other takes. To Friends of the Parks statement.
Marty Nesbit, chair of the Foundation, is quoted in the Announcement: "For the first time a presidential center will be in the heart of an urban community. The President and First Lady are proud that the Foundation is Developing the Obama Presidential Center in the South Side, a community that they call home. The President and First Lady believe that locating the Presidential Center at Jackson Park will have the greatest long term impact on the combined communities. With its aesthetics, iconic location, historical relevance from the World's Fair, we believe Jackson Park will attract visitors on a national and global level that will bring significant long term benefits to the South Side."
Dr. Byron T. Brazier, Pastor of Apostolic Church of God, Mayor Emanuel, and the Director of the KLEO Foundation were also quoted as welcoming on behalf of Woodlawn and the City and committing to working for economic growth and full community participation.
From the December 2016 JPAC Newsletter
Thinking about the Library (visit obamapresidentialfoundation.org). By Gary Ossewaarde, JPAC secretary
A number of collaborations and individuals have begun comprehensive thinking about impacts and improvements possible from or in addition to the coming Library. The city and Foundation set up an Inclusion Council, but this seems mainly to be concerned with fundraising and outreach at this point. The Foundation’s VP for Civic Engagement, Michael Strautmanis is holding a steady stream of small and larger community input meetings (as are aldermen). firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two groups, one led by Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization and Southside Together (STOP) prepared draft Community Benefits Agreements dealing with both community and park needs and pointing out site challenges. Both the Foundation and the City have so far been reluctant to have a formal CBA.
Dr. Brazier of Apostolic Church of God is holding ongoing separate convocations (so far by invitation) of business, stakeholder, and broader community groups (soon) with the Presidential Foundation, Chicago Park District, the City, CPS and officeholders to come up with community improvements that might dovetail directly or indirectly with the Library as well as challenges the Library presents. As part of the stakeholder group, JPAC, Jackson Park Watch, Project 120 representatives, and U of C are among many that shared and discussed ideas. Minutes are promised to be posted publicly online—to be announced soon.
The practicalities. It has become evident that the planning phase for the Library itself will be long, and that decisions on specific aspects will determine or affect others, inside and outside of the 20 acre overall site and 5 acre facility footprint-- and to the overall extent of change in the park. That and the fact that no private or public money have yet been assembled for facilities in the park or in the communities despite ambitious ideas being explored. Important regarding the park are 1) the exact siting of the 5-acre Center within the 20 acres, and 2) whether parking will be on or off site (out of the park)-- these plus over all site use and security and maybe whether and what changes happen to Cornell Drive will likely affect whether and where current sports/picnic facilities will move. If the track moves (within the park) that could spark other moves. JPAC and users of course hope and expect that there will be no or minimal down time for any sports facilities. And JPAC members and park users of course are discussing both making sure there are not environmental, circulation or other setbacks due to the Library and construction and many hope for a variety of updates or improvements long sought, including for the present or possible replacement fieldhouse.
This writer has assembled information, documents and links about the Library and what people are thinking and saying about it in http://www.hydepark.org/parks/jpac/ObamaPLibrary.htm.
LEFT OUT OF THE ABOVE because confirmations were not available: how to get from here to there apparently runs through the Golf Course. December 18, Mayor Emanuel and Parks Supt. Mike Kelly announced a $30 M redesign of the Jackson Park and South Shore golf courses to include both tournament class golf and youth golf development. (See the golf page (www.hydepark.org/parks/jpac/golf.htm) for details on how this may play out). President Obama personally asked Tiger Woods and his firm to design the course. Likely: when the golf driving range is relocated south of 63rd/Hayes, the current soccer fields incl. north of 63rd will go there as well as a Great Lawn be created (restoration of Olmsted feature envisioned by Project 120) that could include picnic grounds and open up a part of the park pinched against Lake Shore Drive. The artificial turf field and track on Stony Island by 62nd that is in the path of the Library would go where the current soccer fields are now between 63rd and the east lagoon. The golf proposal, although first talked about in 2000, is thus now clearly linked to the coming of the Library and other changes (planned or unplanned) for surrounding neighborhoods.
Also, it is evident that the golf and Foundation people envision working together for overall site redevelopment, fundraising, creating a golf course that would both serve the President and friends and host tournaments raising funds for the needs of both and social aims of both including youth programming while enhancing neighborhood development.
Thoughts, Reports, notices, and responses. (Visit Friends of the Parks responses.) (A community benefits agreement?)
The Foundation has already begun doing good in communities. December 7 2016 Chicago Tribune reported the Foundation commissioned 26 pieces of art from artists with cognitive disorders involved with Project Onward, based in Bridgeport. The pieces are hung in its hq in Harper Court. Subjects range from the First Family including Michelle's gardening projects to Jackson Park's Japanese Garden.
According to the Chicago Tribune online, "President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama have selected historic Jackson Park, just east of the University of Chicago, as the site for the Obama Presidential Center, a source confirmed Wednesday. A formal announcement is expected next week.
"In choosing this linear stretch of green space over Washington Park, the other finalist site, the Obamas have opted for the less challenging of the two options. Both gracious South Side parks were designed by legendary 19th Century landscape designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, but the Jackson Park site is cloaked in a more powerful collection of assets.
"Located near the Museum of Science and Industry, the lakefront and the eastern edge of the University of Chicago campus, the site allows for the creation of a museum campus in the heart of the park, accented by an existing lagoon, lush woods and greenery. The winding 543-acre park is an oasis on the South Side. The center would be a short hop to either Lake Shore Drive or to two Metra train stations, strong pulls for visitors.
"Jackson Park's western edge along Stony Island Avenue connects with Woodlawn, an impoverished African-American neighborhood but one that is beginning to gentrify. And the Hyde Park neighborhood, just north of Woodlawn and surrounding the university, already is booming.
"All these attributes give the location a leg up on the long-neglected Washington Park neighborhood.
"Still, the challenge of revitalizing poor African-American neighborhoods can be overwhelming and often ends in failure—presenting the Obamas with an enormous task as they seek to position the center as a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization.
"The hurdles would have been higher in the neighborhood near Washington Park [the Foundation felt]..." others thought that was a reason the more needful neighborhood (disappointed by the failure of the Olympic bid) should have gotten the Library.
The Tribune and other sources continued by mentioning the synergy with Museum of Science and Industry (and other institutions) as a Museum Campus South (which already has a nucleus including MSI, Smart, Robie House, and DuSable).
Yet there is worry about gentrification and high-end infill of depopulated Woodlawn and skyrocketing rents all around, -- neighbors need to figure out how to stay here, leaders said, even though retail, affordable housing (POAH) and other amenities have started and more will come.
And there is not only that the Center would take up relatively-open space in a park, an historic one, but is near Wooded Island (Paul H. Douglas Nature Center), preservationists and supporters of nature and open lands in the city were quoted.
Mayor Emanuel with Ald. Hairston, Cochran, and King has already (last Friday) begun setting up the Advisory Committee for the Library, according to Lynn Sweet in the August 4 Sun-Times.
Andrea Zopp, deputy mayor and chief development officer, will lead the formation or the council.
Members according to Sweet, besides the above are to be representatives of the Foundation, South Side community groups, the city, the Park District, and the University.
Zopp told Sweet, "The first step is to figure out what type organization it will be." She said she envisions, at least eventually, a nonprofit organization especially for leveraging the benefits and economic spinoffs [to at least the entire South Side]. Zopp added that will be hiring consultants for setting all this up and getting funds.
At least two coalitions are preparing either processes for expectations or draft community benefit agreements-- one led by KOCO and STOP, the other by 1Woodlawn/Apostolic Church.
A major unknown, judging from media comments, is the role of the University of Chicago, especially once the Institute et al are opened. President Zimmer's statement at the press conference indicated the University expects to have a major role in programming at the least. (The National Archives will manage the records and papers part of the Center, likely either the Foundation or a nonprofit will manage the rest.)
Regarding the August 3 press conference on the back patio and stairs of the Museum of Science and Industry, the press focused on 1) assurances that the Center's programs and benefits will be directed towards both the Woodlawn and Washington Park neighborhoods, in response to disappointment and fear of being shut out on the part of the people of Washington Park, and indeed will extend to the whole South Side, and 2) the selection of Jackson Park was made largely on its beauty, iconic status and location and its history including the legacy of the Columbian Exposition and hence prestige and ability to attract visitors. and its synergy with neighboring academic institutions and museums--and of course the Lakefront.
Nesbitt said, as in the August 4 Chicago Tribune, "Although we've chosen Jackson Park, our support for the efforts in both neighborhoods for growth and engagement... will be focused on Washington Park just as much as we are on Jackson Park and...Woodlawn..." "Jackson Park, with its aesthetics, its iconic location and historical relevance of the world's Fair, we just think it will attract visitors from a national level, a local level, and bring significant benefits to both communities." He also noted, as quoted by Lynn Sweet and Mary Mitchell in the Sun-Times, the choice seemed difficult, "but the president and the first lady saw that both sites were exceptional locations, and we actually didn't think we ended up having to choose between them, that his is actually one community and the distinction between Washington Park and Woodlawn is really an artificial one. We think locating the center here is probably the best way to benefit the larger South Side."
He also referred to the complex as the South Parks, their original name.
Mayor Emanuel noted enhancements coming to the Washington Park neighborhood: "...and I want to make sure the entire city of Chicago and specifically the South Side benefits from this once-in-a-lifetime cultural and educational investment." Spokespersons reiterated the Mayor's commitment to replace parkland occupied by the Center.
Mr. Straut goes to the HPKCC Conference board August 4, 2016
Michael Strautmanis, Vice President for Civic Engagement, Obama Presidential Foundation, talked and answered questions at the August 4 2016 monthly board meeting of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference.
He knows that "civic engagement" is difficult today as people have been made skeptical because it's difficult for most people and even community leaders to have a voice or be listened to, and even desired development is often done poorly. That's why, he said, it's so important for the foundation to make an unusual effort to reach out to many in many ways. He asked in turn that people give them the benefit of the doubt in the short term and that they come to him and the foundation with concerns and questions first rather than to the media first.
Architects have been chosen just recently, and while lots of ideas and data, including about the surrounding communities and parks have been given to and examined by the Foundation, there is as of yet no plan, let alone a design-- it will take up to two years to get to that stage. Construction will not start before 2018 and the Center not opened before 2021. The center will have the archives, museum experience (Foundation board member Thelma Golden of the Theater of Harlem is overseeing ideas for this, he said), Foundation, restaurant and comfort facilities, and other stuff including likely arts performance, sports and a garden. He said lots of partnerships and an umbrella partnership need to be developed right away-- he hoped the Conference will be part of that. He said that a chief charge the Obamas gave to the Foundation is, how will this facility and it programs help a young Michelle or Barack reach for and be prepared for what they could be?
Questions: "Why was Jackson Park chosen?" The President and First Lady made the selection-- they were provided lots of information, but the decision was theirs. The number one deciding factor was tourism, ability to draw including on an international level. Related to that were the attributes of the park-- what it has been, is, and can be including connectivity to the Museum of Science and Industry, lakefront, lagoons (all things the first couple love, maybe including the golf course, he said). A reason for not going with Washington Park was resident's expressed fear of rapid displacement-- but they recognized also the disappointment there and so want to make sure that area shares in the benefits. The city is committed to helping both communities.
"Will the Obamas themselves live here?" He didn't think they have decided that, may go back and forth at least until the kids have graduated. They are likely to keep the house.
"What is the Foundation looking for from community partners?"
1. Community organizations and services should be doing better, setting priorities, getting and disseminating data, working together more than at present and wants communities to organize to get what they want, including around issues such as housing.
2. Look at communities and the parks-- what do users want and give those things to Foundation as priorities and how to do things.
Priorities from the board: 1. Address the track and field, other existing facilities before start construction so there is no down time and use is seamless. Seek funders for the same. A new and better track, for example, can be the first visible sign of change for the better coming, and build trust. S- agrees.
2. Fix Hyde Park High School and help those kids. This is a key to bringing up all the schools in Woodlawn. Mentioned: the President met with the BAM students in the high school.
3. Noting that this space is a community and family picnicking space on weekend summers, make sure there are spaces for this.
From JPAC September 2016 Minutes re Mr. Strautmanis at JPAC
Obama Presidential Library. Michael Strautmanis, Vice President for Civic Engagement and Christopher Brooks, head of real estate and Senior Project Manager, the Obama Presidential Foundation discussed progress so far and answered questions. Main takeaways: The city and park district are committed to replacement of existing facilities including the track before work begins on the Library and to a full and honest traffic/parking study and solution. Site study and design work will take about two years, then the construction will take place, with the Center opening in 2021. Right now there is just a spreadsheet of space needs. (Dina Griffin, head of the design co-team IDEA will come to a JPAC meeting soon.)The Foundation knows that the benefits have to come to the greater south side and are working, for example with Rev. Brazier, Dr. Tony Barrett and four aldermen to determine programming and economic impact. There needs to be a public decision-making process, which the Foundation is discussing now. The structure of the Foundation as a 501 was explained. Questions and ideas should be directed to Mike at email@example.com.
September 29 Victoria Ranney, expert on Jackson Park and author of Olmsted in Chicago spoke a the Friends of the Parks Walter Netsch Lecture.
Ms. Ranney gave a lushly illustrated history of Jackson Park, particularly the Library site, and Olmsted's vision and involvement. She noted that he not only acquiesced with structures on Wooded Island but originally sited the administration building for the Fair on the library site--instead, the big feature was the horticulture building. After the Fair, he set an outdoor double-gymnasium and track similar to what he designed along the Charles River in Boston, at the site along Stony Island, where the present track is. She noted also that the site is where Jackson meets the Midway on the way to Washington Park--including a water route and lagoons from the Lake that he expected people to actively use and enjoy--and that it is important that we continue to think, as Olmsted did, of the three parks as one South Park System and as nodes in the Boulevard System he designed.
So how do we carry Olmsted's vision and the spirit of the park forward and use the Library to revitalize the parks and the communities? All of these require a public process.
- Involve all the surrounding institutions and museums--including UC,South Shore Cultural Center, DuSable Museum and Stony Island Arts Bank and beyond, and work with the High School.
- Open up access through the park (including that closed off at present)
- Rethink the north-south circulation - could Cornell Drive be lowered, downsized, even eliminated?
- Hire a strong, park and Olmsted knowledgeable landscape design team.
- 20 acres is a lot-- minimize the actual greenspace and tree loss and compensate by taking the repair sheds south of 63rd out of the park.
- Don't add any surface parking lots- combine 60th/Stony lot, MSI lot, maybe some underground parking, use parking swap and co-use with Apostolic lots, use shuttles.
- Fix the Metra stations including 60th.
- Think about and gain public input on 'whose parks,' what are parks for and the different parts of the park.
COMMUNITY TAKES on the selection and place needs
Community Benefits Agreement?
Many point out that there are challenges as well as opportunities to placement of the Center in Jackson Park.
Concerns expressed include:
Keeping the circulation and flow of the park and the nearby streets and arterials-- this could require encouraging a circular access via LSD and 63rd to parking at the south end of the site. Whether the Center and its draw will have negative impacts on traffic etc. remains unknown. It also means rebuilding the Darrow Bridge route for bikes and pedestrians.
Minimizing disruption of developed sections in the site, especially the track and field-- if that has to move, the decision needs to be made soon and arrangements made.
Minimizing building sprawl and loss of excessive open space without going high or in other ways impacting views and outlooks and Olmsted's vistas from the Wooded Island. This might include placement of parking outside the park.
Minimizing hydrologic and other disruptions or impact on Wooded Island, especially during construction.
Improving and expanding the park's facilities including but not limited to restrooms and of its programming and welcoming capacity (ability to tell the story and enhance the experience of nature, park and history).
Community benefits agreement (CBA)? Some groups (esp. the coalition of KOCO and STOP with Prayer Action Coalition and later Bronzeville Regional Collaborative) called for a Community Benefits Agreement-- and were expected to adopt a draft September 29 2016: what improvements are going to come to the park itself and the community; what about only 5 acres in new parkland (where?) coming vs. 20 acres sequestered by the Center? How is displacement of residents prevented? Others pointed to the constraints of the site-- narrow, high water table: how to make it look good and not be a sprawl or high-rise detracting from the natural areas or imposing on Stony Island or making roads even more crowded. And what to do about the track and field if they need to be lost.
But many many said this is a spark of hope, especially for the kids: what host of ancillary improvements can come including to transit and housing. And that the challenges are just that, not reasons to not welcome.
Alex Goldenberger told DNAinfo in December 2016 (December 11 article by Sam Cholke) they are still working off the general principles from September centered around hiring and minority/women businesses. affordable housing, and programming for kids in the immediate area. However, they were engaging residents of affordable or mixed income building in writing letters to the President calling attention to real possibilities they might be evicted or priced of their neighborhoods. An example being the Island Terrace Apartments at 6430 S. Stony Island, which had a commitment but was bought by another party in recent years. The resident's council wants a commitment in writing from the Foundation. (The Foundation, city, and UC have so far resisted a CBA or special agreements.)
A link to a Washington Post article January 19, 2017 suggesting listening to the call for a CBA- https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/01/19/one-way-for-obama-to-secure-his-legacy-make-sure-his-library-helps-the-south-side/?utm_term=.6a9013a235b6.
Statement of STOP for the Coalition for CBA April 12, 2017 WITH LINK TO READ THE COALITION PRINCIPLES and meeting date. Devondrick Jeffers writes
Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP), along with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO), the Bronzeville Regional Collective (BRC), and the University of Chicago student-led Prayer and Action Collective (PAC), last year created the Obama Library South Side Community Benefits Agreement Coalition, a grass-root organization primed to secure a legally-binding CBA with developers of the incoming Obama Presidential Center: the Obama Foundation, of course, but crucially, also the University of Chicago, which proposed the center’s location on the South Side — and the City of Chicago and related entities like the Chicago Park District.
The development, being built on public parkland in Jackson Park, is already demanding $1.5 billion in fundraising. Meanwhile, —in the communities surrounding the library site live Black and low-income families facing issues of crime, un/underemployment, underfunded public schools, and limited access to affordable housing. While residents welcome the Obama Presidential Center and cherish the legacy and cultural impact of President Obama, they will not allow new investment and new interest generated by the Obama Presidential Center to forgo or overshadow much needed investment in their communities. Residents want employment and economic development opportunities, added educational resources for public schools, and affordable housing set-asides; see details in Development Principles worked out by hundreds of South Side residents, at ObamaCBA.org/principles.
On Tuesday, April 18th from 6 PM - 7:30 PM at Hyde Park High School, join us in saying, "We need a Community Benefits Agreement!"
A snapshot- another in ongoing coalition meetings with Foundation officers was held in August 2016 in Huckleberry Park seeking a written Agreement- that the benefits be made to happen and shared-- paid training for and guarantee of temporary and permanent jobs (set asides) paying more than minimum wage and having prospects for advancement, supports and contracts for local Black businesses, better (neighborhood)schools with student internships and scholarships, amenities and enrichment for all ages, commercial revival, affordable housing, a tax freeze in light of rising property values and available land being scooped up-- many being things that the Library alone can't bring but public-private-institutional, foundation and Library Foundation partnerships together might. Other recommendations included that, according to the Herald, "profits from the OPC could be allocated to ara teen centers or low-income housing, as well as a demand [for the aforementioned] property tax freeze."
By September, the Community Benefits Agreement Coalition had consolidated the topics (vetted at breakouts) into employment, economic development, education, housing, transportation, and sustainability. Their statement read, "We universally agree that the Obama Presidential Center has the power and duty to help restore suffering south side communities in innovative ways, and to begin leveling the playing field historically pitched against African Americans... While we recognize the old ways of developing black communities have not created community wealth, we see the exciting potential to develop differently now. We aim to catalyze measurable adn sustainable increases in our community wealth and well-being through sustainable, inter-generational land ownership and transfer, increased revenue streams through neighbor-owned businesses and buildings; and revived resources for Vibrant lifelong learning.
The foundation and the city (and UC) are very reluctant to grant any written commitment saying the Center will be the benefit and spark other benefits, and it remained unclear what role the Foundation's Inclusion Council will play in all this. The relevant aldermen declined to comment or commit to a CBA. Many community players and leaders are reluctant to do anything that could spook or lose the Center or, as Mattie Butler, director of WECAN told the Tribune, "embarrass the President"- the first African American president associated with Chicago and Chicago's South Side. Butler said Obama wouldn't or shouldn't be embarrassed, having gotten his political start as a community organizer on the South Side.) A CBA is not a new idea, and several major CBAs have been made around the country including for Olympics including Chicago's bid, and many worked well in this century alone.
The official stance of the Foundation is
"This Presidential Center is for the Community... The President and First Lady have lived in this community and their children were born in this community. The plan is for the center to be developed in a way that benefits everyone in the community, uses broad collaboration with the community, and embraces engagement with the community." They point to the committee/commission being organized by Andrea Zopp-- a commission whose members as of this writing were not identified but were thought to include among locals the area's aldermen and Rev. Brazier. (Rev. Brazier has convened his own sets of stakeholders vetting what is needed in the communities and how to get it done).
Mayor Emanuel, asked about CBA, sidestepped but said he wants improvements (or that are?) linked to the Library, according to the Tribune, "The Obama Presidential Center will offer a variety of educational, cultural and economic benefits, and the mayor is committed to working with all stakeholders--including the community--to maximize the positive impact on the South Side."
The two groups most involved right now- KOCO and STOP led a successful campaign the was certainly an instrumental, maybe decisive factor in getting the U of C to commit to a trauma center, and KOCO-led coalition won the reopening of Dyett school (The Library prospects perhaps playing a role in both also.) Two keys will be bringing more groups together around a good draft, and Rev. Byron Brazier who leads not only Apostolic Church of God near the Library site but the One Woodlawn Coalition. (A public meeting about One Woodlawn plan was expected maybe in September 2016.) Other pastors including Rev. Jeffery Campbell of Woodlawn Baptist according to the Tribune want all to coalesce around a common package.
Blair Kamin, Tribune architecture critic, said (July 29 Tribune) that Jackson, with both formal (including the proven visitor draw -MSI) and bucolic landscapes framing the site, and being close to the Lakefront (and the Drive) and an anchor educational institution, and with the legacy of the Fair including the Golden Lady, was the more conventional choice (maybe cautious, prudent, realistic, boring), waiting for an architectural jewel. Still, he said, Jackson Park and its environs can be looked at as only "somewhat safe"; Stony Island Avenue south of 60th is underwhelming; shootings and other problems rise as one goes toward the west side of Woodlawn (and th alternative could be runaway gentrification). The site is long and narrow, limiting options, Cornell and Stony are busy roads, and Metra forms a wall. Getting to other closeby institutions and museums will not be easy, including from the two Metra stations. On the other hand choosing the mid-South spreads the cultural and actual wealth vs. concentration in the central core. In short, building this will be a "three-dimensional game of chess."
The Sun-Times (editorial July 28) said it is hard to argue with the choice 'though Washington Park could have been helped more: "The presidential library and musuem still will be on the South Side, still in an impoverished neighborhood that could use the boost, and still be within a walk or bus ride for the generations of kids who stand to be inspired by the story it will tell." The Sun-Times assessed that the options to reach the library were balanced between the two sites. They urged that the Library tell the whole story and not pull punches. Other Sun-Times articles called for a substitution for the well-used track, providing more things for kids to do.
Louise McCurry, JPAC President (as quoted in the Sun-Times and witnessed by this writer): "It's a wonderful thing for the children of Chicago and a wonderful thing for families because they feel safe in Jackson Park. They tell us by the numbers. We have people from all over the world wo come to Jackson Park to see the Museum of Science and Industry. It's a place President and Mrs. Obama are familiar with. It's also beautiful. It's close to the lakefront an has wonderful natural areas. Beaches wil be close to the library. There are wonderful bicycle paths. You can make a day of it and ride through the park. We're a great place to be. It's a safe community and it's the President's community." [It's] wonderfully served [by mass transit.} Thousand of people come here every day. We have three [CTA says ten] bus lines... we have two trains [Metra Electric] and the South Shore line. We have wonderful bicycle path built for the 1893 World's fAir. All come directly to the site. We have some of the best transportation in the city." "Our park is a huge park with lots of open space. This will just make better use of the space we have. If the presidential library is a way to get more kids into nature and green space and convince them to start looking at themselves as being leaders, it is a totally wonderful thing."
Of course, leaders in the Advisory Council believe some of the credit goes to JPAC and the hundreds of volunteers in the park (and user groups) whose years of hard work and advocacy, in conjunction with the Park District and its staff, who made a presentable and relatively safe park and showed people use and commitment.
(This writer did a historical examination of what was actually on the site before, since the Fair -- very little except of course trees that lasted, mainly the modern track and field with an older comfort station to the south.)
Jackson Park Watch in a statement welcomed the Library and mentioned many of the same benefits, but asked a moratorium on other changes or projects-- others either said the Library is just another item to consider in the overall public process, or were in opposition.
Ald. Cochrane (20th) said there would be joy and disappointment no matter which site were chosen. It is a big disappointment for the Washington Park area to be jilted twice (Olympics being the first), "but it just demonstrated the value of the community. And that value has not been lost by the fact that they've ben a bridesmaid twice. all it does is give us an opportunity to expand that community and prepare for development without dominating influence." He cited the coming CTA station upgrade and the performance center et al coming to Garfield Blvd. "Development is regional. I cannot conceive of the Washington Park community not benefiting from the presidential library even if it is in the community of Woodlawn."
Two highly informed and involved neighbors took opposite views.
Vreni Naess cc'd her letter to the Foundation to Good Neighbors, expressing her disappointment, saying the Center in Washington Park would much more beneficial impact than in the Jackson Park area and so diminishes the Obama legacy.
Fran Vandervoort, a board member of JPAC writing on her own behalf, responded to Good Neighbors that:
Of the two parks being considered for the Obama Library, the better choice is Jackson Park. Placing the library in Washington Park would have resulted in the destruction of the only arboretum in a Chicago park -- the stretch of mature shade trees on the west side of the park between 51st and 55th Streets. Washington Park should be recognized as by far the most "natural" of the two parks, with gentle lagoon shorelines sheltering bullfrogs and crayfish, lagoons fed by ancient springs, and nesting sites for many more species of birds than Jackson Park. Jackson Park, for all its beauty, is now in its 4th renovation since 1870. The lagoon edges have been massaged, molded and artificially shored up for more than 150 years.
Construction of the Obama Library in Washington Park would do irreparable damage. Building it in Jackson Park will do little harm to the Park, and could conceivably make parts of it better.
This said, it's unfortunate that so little consideration was given to building the Library in that degraded area between Martin Luther King Drive and CTA Green Line elevated station on 55th Street. This would have benefited the entire area.
Openlands said it was disappointed that most of library did not go into the land outside Washington Park, sighting the historic and environmental sensitivity of both park sites, especially the Washington Park Arboretum.
Friends of the Parks statement July 27 2016 (see also August 3 statement below):
You have probably heard the unofficial news that the Obama library is coming to Jackson Park, per recent media coverage of the issue:
Friends of the Parks strongly opposes the idea that parkland be used for development. Back during the period when the City was preparing its bid for the presidential library and when the President and First Lady were deciding which city to choose, Friends of the Parks repeatedly voiced our excitement about Chicago hosting the Obama Library while clearly articulating our opposition to using parkland. When the University of Chicago's bid was ultimately chosen, we again welcomed the library to Chicago while repeating our disapproval of the use of parkland. We have said over and over again that the 11 acres of vacant land--owned by the University of Chicago, the City, and the Chicago Transit authority--across the street from Washington Park are a much more appropriate site.
We are disappointed that the Obama Foundation has chosen to utilize parkland. But as that is the reality that we face, we will continue to call for minimal damage to the integrity of the historic, Frederick Law Olmstead-designed park and for the addition of green space in the area to make up for parkland that will be utilized.
Friends of the Parks will release an official statement on these issues when the formal announcement about the library's location is made by the Obama Foundation, which is rumored to be sometime next week. At that time, we will also provide more detail as to our reasons for not pursuing a lawsuit to block this project, despite our disagreement with its location in a park.
August 3, 2016 Friends of the Parks Obama Presidential Center Press Statement
Chicago, Illinois - Friends of the Parks warmly welcomes the Obama Library to Chicago's South Side, but reiterates dismay at the use of existing parkland in Jackson Park rather than abundant vacant land nearby.
"However, the organization will not sue as it is our understanding that the site that was chosen apparently is not public trust land-unlike the proposed sites for the Lucas Museum," said Friends of the Parks Executive Director Juanita Irizarry. "Friends of the Parks' analysis suggests that there is no realistic legal remedy at this time to protect this public open space from this development."
Since the public discussion began in 2014 about the possibility of Chicago being chosen as the site for the Obama Presidential Library, Friends of the Parks has said that the organization is excited about the "once in a lifetime" opportunity to host Obama's presidential legacy on the south side where the President and First Lady have a deep connection to the community. Friends of the Parks has also said from the beginning that Friends of the Parks objects to the use of existing parkland for the Obama Library. We will continue to voice that concern.
Chicago ranks 12th on a list of the most-densely populated cities in the country in terms of parkland per 1000 residents. President Obama is familiar with these statistics and knows the importance of parks in the lives of ordinary people. In fact, as a young community organizer, Mr. Obama came to Friends of the Parks and asked how we might work together to increase park space in South Side communities.
"We admire President Obama's record as a champion of the environment. Friends of the Parks similarly has a deep commitment to the protection and preservation of the public's use of and access to open space," said Friends of the Parks Board Chair Lauren Moltz. "Friends of the Parks looks forward to working with the Foundation, the City, the Chicago Park District and the University of Chicago to protect and promote parkland, public space and public access. We would like to ensure that any impact on historic Jackson Park will be minimal and preserve the integrity of Frederick Law Olmsted's design."
Since the announcement was made in May 2015 that the Obamas chose Chicago for the library and would pick a site in either Washington Park or Jackson park, we have urged the Obama Foundation to take any and all necessary steps to ensure the impact on either park is minimal and that any construction fits with the vision of Frederick Law Olmsted's design. In that respect, we continue to urge the Obama Foundation to conduct a study by outside and independent experts to assess the possible adverse environmental impacts in the construction of the library on open land and on the original artistic design of the park. To that end, Friends of the Parks hopes to work with the Foundation, the City and the University to find ways to protect and add to parkland and public space and public access, to offset any adverse environmental impacts or loss of open space.
"The design of the Obama Library should maximize the use of available vacant land and underground space, and be truly 'park positive' by adding parkland to the surrounding community," said Juanita Irizarry. "Furthermore, any design should upgrade the park's facilities and preserve existing recreational uses by the public."
Moving forward, Friends of the Parks urges the Foundation to work closely with the surrounding community to address community benefit agreements, public access to these parks as well as regular communication with all stakeholders. We look forward to working with the Obama Foundation, the City, the Chicago Park District, the University of Chicago and the community on implementing the recommendations of an open space coalition and as a consulting party for any historic preservation assessments of Jackson Park.
Some experts on presidential libraries and on institutions have asserted that the public and scholarly value added by "presidential temples" is not enough to justify the spending by the federal archives or local entities such as park districts.
November 2016 archival material began to be moved from DC to the processing warehouse in the NW suburbs of Chicago. The first C-15 load arrived at O'Hare 3rd week of Feb 2017.
June 30, 2016. Foundation release site: http://www.barackobamafoundation.org/meet-the-architects.
See reduction of the following information with commentary by Gary Ossewaarde
To selection of the landscape team. Museum team
June 30, 2016, The Obama Presidential Foundation announced selection of the firm of Tod Williams/Billie Tsien architects (TWBTA), in partnership with Interactive Design Architects (IDEA) (308 E. Erie, headed by South Sider Dina Griffin). Addition of Interactive, which had not been an applicant, was reportedly suggested by several of the competing design teams as a local partner. Noted was that in a diversity-challenged field, two of the three principals in the combined team are women , one Asian-American and the other African-American. Major works of Williams/Tsien are the University of Chicago Logan Center just a few blocks from the identified sites for the Library, the Barnes Foundation art museum in Philadelphia, the American Folk Art Museum in New York (torn down by MoMA), and a Highlands, NJ concrete pavilion. Williams and Tsien were awarded a National Arts award by Obama. Interactive, a qualified minority-owned firm smaller than Williams/Tsien, assisted on the Art Institute Modern Wing, the Eckhardt Center at University of Chicago, reclading of Chicago's Anti-cruelty Society, and others. Griffin is a former leader in the National Organization of Minority Architects. Dina Griffin, a native Chicagoan and Kenwood Academy graduate and her husband, who have lived in and had institutional connections in Hyde Park-Kenwood, are well known to South Siders including some members of JPAC.
In March, Williams/Tsien appointed Chicago architect and Kenwood resident ___ Larsen to the firm and the project.
Marty Nesbitt says in the Foundation release, “These two firms have a history of building spaces that tell meaningful stories—spaces that bring communities together and create experiences designed to inspire and empower people.”
DETAILS on the architect selection.
Deciding factors cited for the Tsien team, architect of the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago, said to have impressed the Obamas, were experience, personal chemistry with the Obamas, to whom Williams and Tsien were certainly not strangers, and sensitivity to the spirit and plans of Olmsted and Vaux. Foundation chairman Martin Nesbit, as quoted by Lynn Sweet in the Sun-Times, said "One of the things that stood out" in the Williams/Tsien proposal was the respect they showed for the Olmsted and Vaux park designs, Chicago's architectural legacy, and "the history and incredible potential of the neighboring community." Advisor and architectural critic Paul Goldberger said that the purpose at present was to choose the architect, not the design (no designs were shown at the briefing)--"The real design process begins anew, right now; it's really a blank slate." The concepts are "thoughtful, dignified, beautiful and understated." Nesbit added, "the building will have to speak for itself." The approach of each of the Obama's was said by one of the applicants to be complementary rather than identical: Barack has a strong interest in an architecturally strong, artistic building. Michelle is more concerned with the feel, flow and working of the spaces. Nesbit emphasized the latter, as quoted in the Tribune: "This building alone is not the point here, but it's what happens in the center."
The task is complex as the Center has to include the archives and library, a strongly interactive and immersive museum, programmatic space, an Institute of Civic Engagement, the foundation offices, dining, and a presidential suite-- not to mention parking/accommodation of visitors and security. Also, the Center must strongly connect with and transform the specified urban, African-American neighborhoods and have impacts throughout the entire South Side. Exactly how will the complex be welcoming and secure and respectful of park needs and heritage all at the same time and not a land-hog? How will it mesh existing community and conditions and a vision for change-- who defines these? The answers will differ between the sites.
The site selection, Jackson or Washington Park, has slipped. Any possibility of a switch to a nearby site that includes no part of a park seems to be ruled out by the offered concepts, closely honing to the requirements of each of the Olmsted parks. Selection is called "very soon" or "before the end of the year."
January 30 2017 the Foundation announced selection of the Landscape team, in response to RFP.
They have their work cut out for them, but their chops give good hope. One of the most vexing tasks will be deciding what to do with the roads- already the foundation has suggested or floated closure of Cornell Drive (met with opposition immediately) and (in conjunction with the Golf proposal, Marquette Drive (if the feasibility study so indicates.)
Michael Van Valkenburgh (MVVA)- New York-based is lead, with Chicago firms Site Design Group (Erie Wong) and Living Habitats (Heidi Natura).
Van Valkenburgh's projects include the 606 Trail, Maggie Daley Park, One Bennett Park tower (in planning), New York's Brooklyn Bridge Park (and the High Trail?). Site Design - Ping Tom Park, Palmisano Park. It is a certified minority-owned firm. Living Habitats is a certified woman-owned firm.
CEO David Simas: "This highly skilled and diverse team stood out in their committment to creating accessible public spaces that honor their environment, community and history."
Van Valkenburgh said in a written statement, as reported in the Hyde Park Herald February 8 "We are committed to creating an OPC that honors the vision of Frederick Law Olmsted and at the same time is accessible, inspirational and joyful."
Ernie Wong, founder of Site Design who grew up in Hyde Park and Kenwood and is highly esteemed by neighbors who are not necessarily enthusiastic about prk proposals, said he will seek to "forge the future of this institution as part of Jackson Park, reflecting the history and traditions of the South Side and watching the OPC stand as a beacon for the people of this country."
Heidi Natura, president of Living Habitats, said "We are excite to collaborate with MVVA and site Design Group to create a presidential center that reflects the Obamas' values, especially as it relates to sustainability and the natural environment."
February 21 2017 the Foundation announced the design team for the Center museum, library and center for citizenship and the lead architects (Williams & Tsien) discussed some of their concepts. And the first couple are in wide conversations about what and how of their eight years in the White House will be set forth.
May 31 2017 the Foundation announced selection of Louise Bernard as director of the Museum. Ms. Bernard is a major museum professional, director of exhibition at the New York Public Library and having worked in Washington, D.C. helping design the exhibits in the new National Museum of African American History and before that at Yale and its museum. She is an African American.
Some local journalists were frustrated that both the architects and the Foundation have been tight-lipped (no interviews) about concepts, and when some news was finally revealed, it was in New York at an awards ceremony at Lincoln Center with an interview by New York architecture Paul Rosenberger, who had advised on the architecture team selection.
New York based Ralph Appelbaum Associates will lead, assisted by: Civic Projects LLC, Normal, Amanda Wiliams (Bronzeville artist and educator), Andres Hernandez (Assoc. Prof Art Education. Art Institute of Chicago, Norman Teague (South Side artist and furniture designer).
Nearly half of the exhibit design work will go to female and minority-owned firms.
What did Williams and Tsien say? According to Lynn Sweet of the Sun-Times, the first couple believe the building should take on a "strong presence of it own." Indeed, Blair Kamin of the Tribune reported that the President had critiqued first concepts at "too quiet" and "unflashy" (ArchDaily:) "He looked at what we did and he said, 'I said you could be sort of quiet, but I think you're a little too quiet.'" Wiliams told ArchDaily that they are using their Barnes Foundation art museum in Philadelphia as a model- "We..took the idea of the garden and combined it with the building so the building didn't exist by itself."
The Center is to be as much about Michelle as Barack-- who are different people with "separate powerful views. So plurality is critical to solving all architectural problems. It can never be done by a single thing, it has to be using the agency of other elements, in particular the garden." "Architecture-in-the-garden." And perhaps designed so as to be integrated into the Olmsted landscape? Experts wonder- will bit be really welcoming to the neighbors while encouraging tourists to stick around rather than zooming out as is generally true of Science and Industry.
Overall, they want to design from "a set of principles and ideas rather than specific buildings..." in a fluid design process.
Surprising also was revelation in New York Post Page Six among others of thoughts that the Center and its endowment might cost as much as $1.5 billion (partly because the amount of the latter that must be raised privately has been raised).
Details on the architect selection. At the start of May 2016, the Obamas met with leading staff of the Foundation to further vet the 7 finalist architects (with each whom they had met), saying the final selection was just weeks away. Site selection wil require input from the architect as well as specialists studying economics related to the two sites.
Also, a warehouse was leased by National Archives/ General Services Administration at 2500 W. Wolf Road in Hoffman Estates to possible storage, processing, and sorting the Obama Presidential Records. Up to 120 may work at the site. Records can be released before 2022.
Vice President Strautmanis introduced himself at the Jackson Park Advisory Council meeting March 14, 2016. He expects a vigorous input and an impactful result.
At the March 22 5th Ward meeting, he promised that the community will hold significant weight in upcoming dialogue and that the Presidential Center will be a community-driven institution. “[The Obamas] want it to be a place that inspires civic engagement,” Strautmanis said. “It will tell a story of their presidency, but they also want it to be connected to the community—to be alive.” (Quote from Herald Digest.) And it will not be run by the U of C-- there are many partners besides the U of C.
The Grand History of the site.
NEXT ON THE AGENDA
When can we expect community input on evolving plans and community meetings?
The Foundation spokespersons say they expects to have a a final design for the Center and grounds by the end of 2017. (Firms for the Center ang grounds design have been selected.) Therefore, the Foundation expects community meetings to start soon. And it is interested in having this dovetail with an overall plan that will serve the park, park users, and the Center and its visitors. (Some want all projects set aside until such a plan is in place, others think this is unrealistic, might kill everything, and is unnecessary in light of sets of major design and planning in process but certainly want to engage before any plans are finalized.
No schedule for or frame for the meetings had been announced by early February 2017.
One of the matters the Foundation seeks comments on in program focused on citizenship- send to https://www.obama.org/your-voice.
The Foundation has said they are exploring closure of drives (Cornell south of 59th and Marquette was mentioned)-- this has elicited strong concerns, although some want to do calming and are intrigued by the idea of a campus going up to the Museum.
The architects are chosen, the archive processing warehouse is being set up*, the site is chosen, and an Inclusion Council selected, s0....
*(Judging from other Libraries, much of the presidential papers will remain in the the processing station or in Washington, especially classified material or that that cannot be accessed for 50 years anyway. This could be enough to affect the size of the structure for the papers on the Center site.)
As of August 2016, according to Tribune article August 14, a Director for the library and museum is expected to be chosen by the end of the year. Top archivist at the National Archives will consult with the President on the selection-- there is already a thorough "job description" based on the latest for the George W. Bush Library. The director will have a major role in selecting the staff that (apart from Foundation staff) ultimately could exceed 50, maybe half of them archivist/librarians. In fact, the team is already being assembled by the National Archives--a museum specialist, a supervisory archivist, an archive technician, and three archivists, and a facility operations specials has been advertised. They will work at first at the in the Hoffman Estates warehouse. Salaries start at c.$123,000. The Bush Library has about 325 volunteers also as docents and in marketing and administration. The new director of the Abraham Lincoln Library in Springfield added that partnerships including with schools and universities will also be pivotal and speculated there could be partnerships with the Lincoln Library.
Some Local positions.
Link to Friends of the Parks/ Hyde Park Herald poll (March 2015).
More information and links.
What was on the Jackson Park Obama Presidential Center site before?
Gary Ossewaarde rev. 9/30/16
Land speculators bought large swaths of the future park in the mid 19th century. It took a long time (1888) to extinguish all the claims after the land was designated for a park and bonds issued after 1869 and the Olmsted-Vaux plan drawn up in 1871. There was little development south of 59th St. for several years after the Chicago Fire. (Olmsted was disappointed at lack of progress when he returned to look at the park for the Fair). Olmsted conceived the west edge of the park (west of a roadway that somewhat approximates what is now Cornell Dr.) as for recreation and gateways, including a perennial garden south of 59th opposite the Midway just outside the site but surely a gateway to it.
Of course, there were several important buildings during the World’s Fair, including Transportation (partly off the southern edge of the site) and Horticulture buildings whose designs morphed from initial concepts. Both were spectacular-- 5-acre Transportation expressing (vs. the "White City" Beaux Arts uniformity of Burnham) Sullivan's new Chicago School Americanist style in brilliant colors, a giant gilded Richardsonian arch, and repeating arch walls all around. Between Transportation and Horticulture was the Choral Hall, where Margaret Lang, - the first woman composer to have a piece played by an American symphony orchestra, conducted "Witichis". Horticulture was a little under 5 acres with a giant center hall with 180-foot dome and a total of eight greenhouses, including one on each of the sides, each with its own cafe and with a veranda overlooking the gondolas on the lagoon. Horticulture attempted to assemble every kind of plant from around the world that would survive moving, including 16,000 varieties of orchid, a Mexican desert and a Japanese garden. North of Horticulture was a statue of William Penn and the Fair hospital. Next was the Children's Building, which included the new ideas of kindergarten, children's playgrounds, and daycare. North of the site was conceived as a turning basin for a canal through the Midway to Washington Park, never built, then the women's building. Ironically, initial thought was to build the Administration building in the center of the site. Eventually it was sited in the center of the park, where the Golden Lady is now.
After the Fair, the Olmsted firm sited at about 62nd towards 63rd an outdoor double Gymnasium (men's and women's) and track-- about where the present track is. Gravel from Fair paths was used. The track was soon taken over by bicycles. There was also a small playground.
One can find by the future Perennial Garden a plaque for the first cross-country automobile race (Chicago to Evanston and back) run in 1895 from that site.
By 1903 the site, and 4/5 of the park acreage was developed, probably including various ball fields east of Stony Island as today. This writer has not found a date for the comfort station that is now, along with a (poorly placed) playground, south of track.
1936 or a little later, creation of the long-planned perennial garden at 59th and Stony, designed by Betty McAdam, was realized. The large circular sunken garden was placed in an existing recessed circular lawn panel that in Olmsted's 1871 plan and the 1895 Plan was to hold a circular formal water basin. The surround wall and steps down were of stratified limestone and sets of shrubs surrounding the whole gave a sense of enclosure. It has been a point of pride of Park District staff and contractors to keep up this showcase garden.
1966> Cornell Drive was redesigned and widened despite public protests.
Sometime before Victoria Ranney/ Friends of the Parks map of the early 1980s, tennis facilities were placed north of where the present track is and a ballfield at the ne corner of Hayes and Stony Island. However, most of the site became degraded with trucks running over it and football equipment being dragged over it.
The first new track-and-field was built in 2000, including with funds from the NFL. In 2011 the present track and soccer field was built by Take the Field.
UPDATES: OBAMA PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY IN JACKSON OR WASHINGTON PARK.
2017 1st quarter. (Sun-Times and Tribune) Now that Obama is out of office, the quest for funding is now open.
The co-founder of Twitter, Evan Williams and his wife Sara Morishige gave in the $750K-$1M level.
Michael Sacks, CEO of GCM Grosvenor, investor in the Sun-Times, and chair of World Business Chicago, major player on Chicago, Highland Park and other stages, and his wife Cari increased their contribution to above the $1M level.
John Doerr and wife Ann are also now above the $1M level. He is a member of the Foundation board.
Joe Kiani and wife Sarah, Silicon Valley Masimo Inc, are now at the $500K-750K level,
as are John Rogers and daughter Victoria of Ariel Investments (Rogers is on the Foundation board).
Daniel Levin and wife Fay Hartog-Levin (Habitat Co. adn former ambassador to the Netherlands) are now at the $250,000-500,000K level.
Smaller gifts in the hundreds are now being separated out. These gifts mainly came in online.
A major talk and fundraiser will be held May 25 in Berlin at the Brandenburg Gate. Domestically, Obama will talk and receive the 2017 JPF Profile in Courage Award from Caroline Kennedy May 7, followed b y7 a keynote address May 9 in Milan at the Global Food Innovation Summit.
February 11, 2016. President Obama has approved the 5 finalist architectural firms (originally submitted) and added two firms that had not been among the submitted finalists to make up the 7. He will meet with all 7 firms twice, at the start and the end of design, according to advisor architecture critic Paul Goldenberger in an interview by Martin Pederson for Common Edge website, according to a Sun-Times story. Selection of the architect is expected in the first half of 2016, but the site may be later as the architect is expected to have a role in selection. According to Goldenberger, many of the advisors (and firms?) prefer or at least are more interested in the "nitty-gritty" Washington Park site with its "L" stop rather than that in Jackson Park.
December 21, 2015. The Foundation announced 7 finalists for architect, winnowed from about 140, of which about 100 were Chicago area. Three of the firms have or will be designing firms on Chicago's South Side and another in Chicago. Among them was the John Ronan firm from Chicago, known for among others the Poetry Foundation and on the South Side the Gary Comer Youth Center that won an AIA award and where the win by Chicago's bid was announced, and the soon to be build Innovation Center at IIT. That only one was from Chicago and did not include Chicago and Hyde Park favorite Jeanie Gang disappointed some locals, but Blair Kamin of the Tribune said this was hardly like what what happened to Chicago architecture and architects at the 1893 Worlds's Fair. The selectees are modernists (from line-and-angle style to sculptural) and it matters little these days where the firm's office is based, said Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin-- what is the "brain power" they bring to the table and the "out-of-the-box designs" through which Modernism shows it can appeal to "the masses as well as to the cognoscenti" and can be socially aware, inclusive, and contextual.
The architects will be involved in major questions involving which site and how the Center should blend with the site as well as the neighborhoods in which they are set. In the case of the latter, that they be inclusive, not mostly private-function fortresses imposed on public land and in not just engaging via top-down programs. In the case of the former, they are in iconic places that are not just public re-creational green spaces for people that are also supposed to share the city with wildlife and ecosystems but historic Olmsted parks with standards that are under constant public examination from many perspectives. For example, one would hope for a bird-friendly structure, not a glass killing field, and environmentally conscious. Having to show concepts for both sites to the Obama's as well as to the Foundation should help clarify site selection and use-- it all begins with relationship with the clients and with the site. So when and which landscape and Olmsted architects be brought in?
Four of the are based in New York, two in Europe- if one of the latter 2 are chosen, it will be the first time a presidential library is built by a non-American. Notable also is that two of the finalists have designed firms on the nearby U of C campus and one a couple miles away. Overall, the selections indicate a preference for a variety of modernist, innovative design and for very top architects. (The Obama's had input in the selection and approved the list of finalists.) The seven are to submit full proposals (responses to RFP) during the first quarter 1016 and present them to the First Couple, a process Kamin called significant and necessary-- indeed, to meet more than once. Kamin also pointed to the significance of the requirement to provide concepts for both sites, indicating the two selections (architect and site) will be done together.In the Foundation statement as quoted by the Hyde Park Herald evening digest,
"Although the RFP process is not a design competition, the RFP will require defined, visual responses from each candidate to present creative ideas in response to the foundation’s project goals,” according to a written statement from the Obama Foundation. “As the Foundation has not yet selected the specific site for the development of the OPC, the architectural firms will be asked to prepare responses for both the Jackson Park and Washington Park sites.
"The Foundation received submissions from an impressive list of architects with a range of styles, expertise, and experience,” Nesbitt said. “These finalists offer a variety of backgrounds and styles, and any one of them would be an excellent choice. We are excited to see this process moving forward because the Obama Presidential Center will be so much more than a library – this facility will seek to inspire citizens across the globe to better their communities, their countries, and their world.”
The selected firms are:
Adjaye Associates of London, England (Tanzanian born) (inter National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, MCA Denver, expansion of Studio Museum of Harlem. Wall Street Journal Innovator Award. Sat with President at 2012 state dinner w. Br. PM. Has a significant, large one-man show through January 3 in the Art Institute of Chicago.),
Diller Scofidio + Renfro of New York (inter alia the High Line New York, Broad Museum LA, and the soon to built Rubenstein Forum at University of Chicago. Principals were first architects to win MacArthur Genius awards),
Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Genoa, Paris & New York (Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago, California Academy of Sciences SF, and Whitney Museum's new building (praised by Michelle Obama). Dined w. Obama at Rome dinner. Pritzker Prize winner),
John Ronan Architects of Chicago (see above),
SHoP Architects, New York (Barclays Center, Brooklyn; the Botswana Innovation Hub, Gaborone; and academic buildings at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Currently, SHoP is designing Uber’s new headquarters in San Francisco),
Snøhetta, New York, NY (National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion, New York; the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt; and the expansion of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art),
Snøhetta, founded in Norway, now New York. (September 11 memorial Museum Pavilion, where Obama spoke; unusual Cultual Center in Norway ;other significant)
Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, New York, NY (Barnes Foundation Art Museum, Philadelphia; the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago; and the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, California. In 2013, the firm received the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama.)
So, who is vetting the architects and advising the Obamas and who is giving?
According to news reports and releases, there is a Design Advisory Team, some of (Eychaner especially) whom helped winnow the 140 from whom the 7 finalists were selected. It was not said how decisive the team will be, but they will not "vote" for an architect. the team has visited both the Jackson Park and Washington Park sites and met with all seven finalist teams (as will the first couple). Apparently there are now plans to let the public see and possibly weigh in on the designs the teams come up with.
According to foundation spokespersons and statements, quoted by Lynn Sweet in the Sun-Times, background criteria and expectation includes: "The foundation worked closely with a group of talented and experiencee advisors trusted by the president and first lady and evaluated over 140 Responses to the RFQ released in August. Based upon highly selective criteria identified by experts in design and architecture, the foundation and its advisers presented their recommendations to the president and first lady. All of the selected firms have a position of eminence within the architecture profession and have achieved some degree of public recognition. "
Bid documents stress that the structure reflect, for example, "a spirit of optimism and hope" and in the emotions it evokes resonates with both the communities and visitors "reflection, exploration, learning and conversation."
The Design Advisory team (about 10) includes
Don Gummer (sculptor in steel, stone, bronze and marble who is also married to actress Meryl Streep, whom the president greatly admires),
Ed Schlossberg (who heads design firm ESI, was appointed by Obama to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and is also married to U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy),
Fred Eychaner (Chicago radio station owner and board chair of Newsweb and Democratic and Obama Foundation ($500,000 to 1 M) donor who had his Chicago home designed by Pritzker-winning architect Tadao Ando and whose Alphawood Foundation among its many other good works pledged $10M to restoration of FL Wright's Unity Temple in Oak Park);
Bob Clark (CEO of Clayco Chicago building firm, appointed by Obama to the Committee for the Preservation of the White House);
Theaster Gates (artist and sculptor, U of C visual arts prof. and administrator and Rebuild Foundation that has transformed and repurposed many structures for arts and public life purposes);
Christine Forester (architect whose firm declares it is "at the intersection of business, marketing and design," a very early donor to Obama and appointed to the President's Committee on Arts and Humanities);
Margaret Russell (editor-in-chief of Architectural Digest and a trustee of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts);
Michael Smith (interior designer who redecorated the White House for the residence for the Obamas and appointed to the Committee for the Preservation of the White House);
Kathryn Chenault (attorney and wife of Kenneth Chenault, chair and CEO of American Express. Mr. Chenault is on the Council on Jobs and competitiveness and Smithsonian Institutions's Advisory Council for the National Museum of African American History and Culture);
Oprah Winfrey (possibly less formally? Donated to and is heavily involved in the National Museum of African American History and Culture).
Who is funding and in charge; financial reports.
An article in the December 25 2016 Tribune focused on how steep a climb it may be to raise the hundreds of millions for the Library. The cost of each successive library (construction plus endowment) goes up steeply while contribution from government via archives budget may not. The first year after the President leaves office is likely to be crucial. the Foundation will largely be drawing from the donors to his campaigns (which is a deep pool, and many of these will want to preserve his legacy and reach youth after the big election loss). And now there will be some competition with the effort to raise funds for a golf remake in Jackson and South Shore Cultural center parks. In addition, the rules have changed--the endowment raised must equal at least 60 percent of the construction cost (vs. 20). There has also been some confusion regarding the pledge to not draw a link between access to the president and giving and controversies over the Clinton and Trump foundations.
The way contributions are recorded in large brackets has made it hard to sort out the players. This may become more clear after IRS documents are filed. Some details are below. the major givers through 2016 seem to be the Lucases, Fred Eychaner (media), Joyce Foundation, Michel Sacks (hedge fund, a close ally of Mayor Emanuel). $7.3 million had been raised through 2015. The President and the new CEO of the Foundation, David Simas speak at McCormick Place December 26, 2016. Stay tuned...
Meanwhile, the Foundation has slowed to a crawl its fundraising until the President is out of office. it was also slapped by Lynn Sweet in the Sun-Times for its lack of transparency and promptness in reporting donations (using the quarterly foundation and only in big brackets rather than amounts, and unclear identities, vs. the Obama campaign-derived legacy foundation, Organizing for Action-- The Obama Foundation last, more detailed 990 for 2014 was filed in May 2015). Raised in 2014 was $5.4M and 2015 $2.4. Two new donors were in half to one million range, Scott Miller with Tim Gill (Quark and Gill Foundations) and Ian Simmons (ImpactAssets Donor Advised Fund, married to Liesel Pritzker). The Joyce Foundation paid more of its 2014 $1 M pledge. Other new donors gave between $200 and $100,000--Nicholas Alexos, Alison and John Shulman, Sheila Anderson, and the Lawrence Z. and Jacqueline A. Stern Foundation. Past donors according to IRS filings have been mainly Chicago and New York investors who gave heavily to the Obama campaigns. Another 2014 pair of donors were Tom and Sonya Campion (Zumiez Clothing) of Seattle, $500,000.
Major donors reported for first quarter of 2016- the Lucas family (Star Wars) between $500 K and $1 M. John W. Rogers and Victoria Rogers- $250 K to $1 M. Robert C. Clark (Clayco) $100K-250K. Steve and Lisa Gerber in the $200 to $100K category. Additional: Scott Miller and Tim gill with Gill Foundation $500K-1M and Sheila Anderson $200-$100K.
April 22 2016- According to the Sun-Times, three more major donors were added to the board of the Foundation, growing it from 7 to 10. (The foundation had dinner with the Obamas April 1.) Two of these, Michael Sacks and John Rogers, Jr. are tasked with figuring how the library is to fit into the "civic fabric" of Chicago. For example, Michelle Obama is thinking of ways to keep initiatives such as "Let's Move" alive, including through the Library ("the new platform" as Michelle said at a meeting with kids. As of late April, the Obamas have met with all 7 architects. The new board members: John Rogers, Jr. (Ariel Investments; Rogers and daughter Victoria have given between $50,00 and $500,000.) Michael Sacks (GCM Grosvenor, vice chair of World Business Chicago, vice chair of th Mayor's Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs. Sacks and wife Cari have given between $500,000 and $1M.) Robert Wolf (founder and CEO fo 32 Advisors in New York and chair of Measure-Drone; he and his wife have given between $100,000 and $250,000.)
2015 donors were included in the May 2016 2015 tax filing. According to the Chicago Sun=Times (inclu9ding Lynn Sweet) and Tribune. Tax filings have more info than the nonprofit donations filings, in which donors are put into very large dollar buckets. In short, 6 major donors, individual and foundations, were recorded (Some donated in 2014 year also.)
Gill Foundation, of Colorado (Scott Miller and Tim Gill founder of Quark. Supporter of LBGT and HIV causes)- $347,000 (in addition to $432,876 in 2014)
Sacks Family Foundation of Highland Park (Michael Sacks CEO of GCM Grosvenor Capital Management, investor in company owning Chicago Sun-times, ally of Mayor Emanuel and a new member of the Foundation's board)- 333,384 (2014 $666,666)
Lise Strickler and Mark Gallogly with Marilyn and Jim Simons of New York (Gallogly- Centerbridge Partners investing, former member of Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and the Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Simons net worth $15+ B, hedge fund Renaissance Technologies)- $330,000 (2014 Strickler and Gallogly gave $340,000). Possible duplicative listing in the Tribune, or Sun-Times listing may combine two sets of donors who gave the same amount: The Simons, founders of Renaissance Technologies gave $330,000 in 2015 and $340,000 in 2014.
David and Beth Shaw of New York (David Shaw net worth $5 B, quantitative trader who founded d.E. Shaw & Co. - $250,000, also $250,00 in 2014.
ImpactAssets of Maryland (promotes investments with social, environmental and financial impact)- $250,000 (in addition to lead Ian Simmons gift of $500,000 in 2014-- Simmons' wife is Liesel Pritzker Simmons).
Total public income 2014- $5.434,877, 2015 $1.916,247 including small donations not itemized in tax returns.
2015 expenses $2.820,908 cf 2014 $1,952,254. Funds on hand $2.62 M.
Compensation: (no highly paid employees in 2014.) 2015: Robbin Cohen (ex dir) $244,838; Justin Rosenthal (strategy and operations) $131,596; Jamison Citron (external affairs) $137,500; Jonabel Russett (accounting and admin) $121,329. The board is not paid.
Main expense activity in 2015 was architectural competition, followed by researching the mission, role and programs of the Foundation and Center as well as what the first family might do after the President leaves office.
Fees. Accounting. Lynn Taliento of McKinsey firm's social sector practice. This firm is helping the Obamas shape develop long-term post White House strategy.
Legal- Law firm of Katten, Muchin, Rosenman $296,759.
Marketing- Blue State Digital, New York- digital marketing; SKD Knickerbocker, D.C.- communications and marketing
Real Estate consulting- Peter Edward Arendt, Fort Worth- $150,000.
New first quarter 2016 donors were reported by the Foundation, according to Lynn Sweet of the Sun-Times.
The Lucas Family Foundation (which includes Melody Hobson)- $500,000 to $1M category.
John W. Rogers and Victoria Rogers - $250,00-500,000.
Robert G. Clark (Clayco, member of the team advising on selection of architect) $100,000-250,000.
Steve and Lisa Gerber of Indiana between $2009 and $100,000.
Past donors giving additional amounts in the quarter: Scott Miller/Tim Gill/Gill Foundation $500,001-1M
and Shiela Anderson of Ocala FL $200-100,000, called a "Grass roots donor".
Additional donors announced in October 2016. A total of 11 gifts, several were repeat givers. New:
Reid Hoffman and Michelle Yee (Linked In, other Silicon Valley ventures)- over $500K
Daniel Levin (developer, Winnetka, founder of The Habitat Company, and wife Fay Hartog-Levin who was Ambassador to the Netherlands- up to $100,000
Andrew Hauptman- Foundation (Chicago Fire, Andell Inc., founder of The Habitat Company, foundation manager, of Beverly Hills CA, connected to Bronfmans of Seagram's) over$$250K
The John and Marcia Goldman Foundation (San Francisco) up to $250.000
Robin and Possum Fund up to $100,000
4th Quarter 2016 donors
The overall total of gifts is not given. 24 contributors are new or giving again--3 are in the $500,000- $1M category: Stephen Cloobeck (travel ind., longtime Dem. donor), Mel Heifetz (real estate, Obama supporter), family foundation of Glenn Hutchins (Silver Lake Partners).
$250,000-$500,000- 2 new: family foundation of George Logothetis (Greek shipping magnate), Alison and Mark Pincus (tech. entrepreneur/Zynga).
$101,000-$250,000- 2 new- Jill and Davie(?) Glazer (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Marjorie and Louis B. Susman (former ambassador to Britain).
$200- $100,000- 17 new including Foundation board members Martin Nesbitt with wife Dr. Anita Blanchard, family foundation of J. Kevin Poorman
November 23 2015, Foundation Chair Marty Nesbitt and Executive Director Robbin Cohen announced appointment effective in January of Michael A. Strautmanis, long-time friend of frequent aide to the Obamas and in the White House including heading the White House Offices of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs and chief of staff to Valerie Jarrett, as head of Community Outreach (Vice President of Civic Engagement) and public face for the Foundation. To date the foundation's engagement, other than solicitation of comments and ideas, has been largely at second-hand. Strautmanis is a native Chicagoan who is a lawyer and has much experience in public relations and community engagement. For the past two years he has been vp of corporate citizenship for Walt Disney Co. Also announced, the headquarters of the Foundation until the Center is completed will be in the Harper Court tower at 53rd and Lake Park (University of Chicago is providing the space free of charge) starting in January, moving into ground space probably a little later as the space is built out.
This raised the question of a community benefits agreement (starting with local jobs but including real economic development and tangible institutions and programs, something that Nesbitt has said is unnecessary as the whole Center is a community benefit.
Cohen said, as quoted in the Sun-Times, "We are delighted to have Michael join the foundation, and we look forward to his leadership on how to best engage the dynamic South Side and greater Chicagoland community throughout the construction of the Obama Presidential Center and beyond." As quoted in the Chicago Tribune, Strautmanis said, "Civic engagement has been at the center of President Obama's career in public service, from his start as a community organizer on the South Side all the way to the White House. I am honored to bring his unique and effective approach to civic and social change to the foundation's work with the vibrant community on the South Side, along with other communities across the city and beyond." Strautmanis' written statement included, "My main focus will be building meaningful pathways for citizens to engage with the foundation, strengthening connections with the vibrant communities we’re a part of on the South Side, in greater Chicago, and around the country...”
November 10 2015 Foundation Chair Martin Nesbit, in his first public address since the South Side was selected, warned the City Club of Chicago- before we open the Library, Chicago has to come together and get its house in order-- especially the South Side violence. With the emphasis that these problems are precisely what the President had in mind resolving when he chose the South Side. (The President has said repeatedly that he will be working on several interrelated issues once he leaves office including violence, race, and criminal justice and he has frequently cited the violence in his home city). Nesbitt specifically called attention to the concurrent funeral for 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee and said that we can't expect to invite the world and make the Library a first-class attraction and bring in jobs with these problems in place (a warning echoed separately by scholars and leaders evaluating Chicago's prospects as a global and global-issues think tank and foundation center). The fiscal situation for Chicago and Illinois, while not mentioned must have been the 500-pound gorilla in the room. Nesbitt has recused himself from Chicago Politics since becoming chair of the Foundation, so his words now on the city situation count.
Apparently not counting on the extensive, but criticized by many as biased and incomplete, the community engagement conducted by the University of Chicago and others of the "Bring It Home" campaign, Nesbitt emphasized that the Foundation will soon start its own process of seeking out the input and priorities of South Side residents, businesses, et al and urged them-- and the city and state to engage and "work with us as much as they can. We need local businesses to take a risk on the potential of the South Side. Most importantly we need local residents to embrace this opportunity to create a better future for our children". He said that a coordinator of civic engagement and idea-exchange will be hired by early in the next year. He stressed that the center must work with the community-- "Yes We Can," not "Yes I Can". "In the coming months, we will be talking to and collaborating with people who live here, so their perspectives and ideas are fully considered during the process," as quoted in the Sun-Times. He said, as quoted in the Tribune, "I encourage local businesses "to take a risk on the potential of the South Side" in an enterprise both local and worldwide since the the President consciously chose to place the library on the South Side, in a public park in the middle of a low-income African-American community that would benefit most from the jobs, money, and foot traffic the center will bring, and also become a destination providing experiences that can't be had anywhere else in the world. As quoted in the November 11 Tribune, Nesbitt said, "Chicago has a long and proud history of civic engagement, of harnessing the ingenuity and compassion of our citizens to solve problems in ways that no one every has before. In order to realize our vision, we have to start preparing now." He also emphasized, citing park designer F L Olmsted's principle of "the genius of a place," "We are going to be extremely mindful of our relationship with the Olmsted parks and our impact on the surrounding environment."
More specifically, Nesbitt, as quoted in the November 11 Tribune, told the City Club, "Right now, there is a funeral taking place for a 9-year-old boy who was gunned down. We can't forget that. The world is already watching. We can't invite the world to the South Side without demonstrating that we can fix our own problems. I came to ask everyone to roll up their sleeves and get involved. We are about to invite the world into our living room, so we need to get our house in order." "We are trying to build a platform that helps facilitate change across a broad array of issues. So when we think about the the most important quality for this institution to have, it is the capacity to change, the capacity to adapt to circumstances and fulfill needs where they are. As part of that, I hope we have created a mechanism that allows us to step in and have an impact on something like the issue of violence." "I encourage all of us to come together in the spirit of community to seize this opportunity to be a source of hope and inspiration (for our children)."
The Foundation will release a list of fewer than 10 architects by the end of the year who will be asked to submit proposals. Revising the timeline, siting having to vet 140 architects and with the architect now having a major impact on the site selection (and maybe vice versa), the architect and site selection are now said to be in the first half of the new year, not early in 2015.
2016 summary. 13,175,732 M (almost double the 2 first years combined- 5,543,877 2014 and 1,916,247, according tote IRS filing May 15 20167.
$1M from former ambassador to the Netherlands Fay Hartog-Levin and her husband, developer Daniel Levin, founder of The Habitat Company. Hartog-Levin connections include Valerie Jarrett, Chicago Council of Global Affairs, U of C Law school faculty.
$1M from former ambassador to Great Britain Louis Susman and wife Marjorie (who gave $1M the previous year).
$1M from Mel Heifetz (trust), Philadelphia real estate investor and Obama donor.
$1M from Reid Hoffman, CEO of LinkedIn and wife Michelle Yee trough Fidelity Charitable Foundation.
$1M from Andrew Hauptman family foundation (incl. wife Ellen Bronfman Hauptman) owner of Chicago Fire. and chairman of Andell Inc.
$1M from Mark Gallogly of Centerbridge Partners and wife Lise Stickler through New Your Community Trust.
$1M from Hutchins Family Foundation- Glenn Hutchins is co-founder of Silver Lake Partners and co-owner of the Boston Celtics.
$1M from George Lucas Foundation.
$1,013,232 from John and Ann Doerr (who gave $1M the previous year).
Expenses. $4.8M. Pay for executive dir. Robbin Cohen 2016 + bonus for 2015 work $490,627.
Media-digital-marketing $532,848 to Blue State Digital.
Fundraising- Grenzebach Glier and Associates $372,937.
Chief Development Officer Jordan Kaplan (Lakefront Strategies) $96,000, plus to Sky Advisory Group.
Architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien $305,244.
Office artwork from Project Onward (disabilities)- $18,601.
Legal- Katten Muchin Rosenman $838,568.
August 26, 2015
OBAMA PRESIDENTIAL CENTER FOUNDATION STARTS SEARCH FOR ARCHITECT and more details revealed.
The Obama Presidential Foundation on August 26 issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to an undisclosed number of architectural firms who may be interested in designing the Obama Presidential Center (aka Library). Jackson Park between Stony Island Avenue and Cornell Drive, 60th and 63rd is one of the two finalist sites for the Center, on the South Side of Chicago—the first Library to be built in a predominantly African American and low income urban section. It would also be the first in a truly historic park—given overview in the RFQ without comment on issues raised for or against that siting. Site selection is not expected until about the time the firm has been selected in early 2016. The firm may or may not have much input about which site. Meanwhile economists et aI are studying how to (and which site can best) create a revitalizing public/private economic engine. In an unusual, perhaps unprecedented procedure, the firms solicited (and others who wish), are invited to document their credentials, financials, samples of their work and vision, but not a design, by September 16. At least 90 percent solicited are U.S. firms, heavily weighted in favor of Chicago. The Foundation hopes to get a wide range of options and styles. Firms will then be winnowed by the first couple late in the year, into a few finalists that will be asked via RFP to submit Proposals--actually “creative ideas” according to news reports—there will not be a full-fledged design competition. Pulitzer Prize-winning N.Y. architecture critic Paul Goldberger is advising. The president and first lady will make the final selection, but how involved they will be can’t be easily predicted. The Foundation’s website specifies that the Center to include—A LOT!--community gardens, “quiet spots for reflection,” convening spaces for “activists, thinkers and leaders,” innovation labs, a “healthy dining” facility, indoor and outdoor sport and performance space. The core will have the archives, “interactive and immersive” museum with live and recorded video production, foundation offices, and a Presidential Suite—all having to be run by a multi-party collaboration. The object is to be “inspiring and empowering people to take action on the big challenges of our time.” (The city’s new mantra for destination facilities is “open, accessible, and green.”) Construction cannot begin until after President Obama leaves office and is projected to be completed 2020 or 2021 at a cost of over $500 million, almost all yet to be raised.
See more at barackobamafoundation.org.
The Foundation reported Sept. 17 that 140 firms responded to the RFQ, and therefore the award of commission will be delayed, and likely also site selection, beyond early 2016. According to media, it is still unclear whether the architect selected will play a role in site selection, which would push the latter back even further. 99 firms from U.S. applied, "many" from Chicago, firms in total are from 60 cities in 25 countries. The foundation did not identify the number of firms contacted for RFQ (said to be over 3 dozen) or which firms were contacted/requested to submit RFQ's to avoid pressure on those asked, it said, and perhaps to avoid embarrassing those who were not asked but volunteered. Clearly there were a lot interested firms that were not originally asked. But and RFQ is relatively easy compared to a Proposal, and is free advertising! so one would expect some to be simply fishing. So among the heavies who acknowledges they were asked? The Chicago Sun-Times says Chicago firms Perkins + Will; Jeannie (Studio) Gang (which declines to say so); and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill; New-York's Ennead Architects LLP (Clinton Library) and the MacArthur-winning Diller Scofidio + Renfro (Lincoln Center redesign an the High Line. Also London-based Adjaye Associates (thought by some to be the front-runner, National Museum of African American History and Culture). The Chicago Tribune said it identified 11 selected architects including Chicago-based Helmut John, New York's Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Italian Renzo Piano. Adjaye (whose large exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago has just opened ) and Gang are among those that declined to say whether they were contacted by the Foundation.
The list will be reduced to 9 or 10 (depending on the source) or fewer who will be asked to respond to a as-yet-unreleased (or unprepared?) RFP and at least some present to the Obamas. The Foundation plans to release the list of finalists.
September 10, 2015 the University of Chicago appears to have gone a long ways towards dispelling opposition to its involvement by collaborating with Mount Sinai Hospital in proposing a jointly financed and run Class I adult trauma center for 68th and California, serving most of an area in deep need, and in opening to a new, larger emergency room at U of C. Persons speculated that if the Library were sited on the South Side, somehow a new trauma center would be created nearby, if only for security concerns related to Obama visits. That a trauma center is now announced for so far west of U of C could be either a hint that Washington Park is the choice, or could factor in that choice. Among remaining hostility-generating relationship issues is equitable and transparent UC policing.
Media reported starting April 30 that a decision has been made by the President and First Lady to site the Obama Presidential Center (Library, Museum and Institute) in Chicago under the University of Chicago bid. The Foundation with the Mayor made the formal announcement and released video from the First Couple May 12 at Gary Comer Youth Center. Site selection between Jackson and Washington park was said to be 6-9 months away, after selection of and evaluation by an architect. Also, it is expected that there will be a presence at Columbia University in Harlem in New York City and some satelite in Hawaii.
Lynn Sweet in the Sun-Times said favorable factors for the Chicago-UC choice include UC partnership with and plans to advance local elementary and high schools and universities, support from communities, strategy to optimize tourism and for economic development of "this historic place." Likely also: the strong connections of the first family and their friends to the South Side of Chicago and the University and that government bodies bent over backwards to secure the land and create legal presumption that the library can be built in historic parks. The site-selection process was led by Obama's sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, who lives in Hawaii.
Pundits are now putting out the pros and cons and drawbacks of the two sites.
Selection of an architect (see above)- there is already a favorite, South African David Ayoale, and touting of other architects, particularly African American. The architect will likely be involved in evaluating the two sites, as well as others who will do through soil, water and environmental and traffic evaluation.
An article in the August 18 2015 Chicago Tribune said that the Foundation's international rfp search for an architect will start "soon." Meanwhile, the Foundation is conducting its own research and the opinions of economists and related experts as to which of the two sites is more likely to spur economic development and neighborhood revitalization impacts. Earlier reports had said there must be environmental impact studies of the site.
A lawsuit? at least now not--Friends of the Parks issued a statement May 12 that, according to the Tribune, "urging the foundation to take all necessary steps to minimize the impact on the parkland and ensure that any construction fits with the vision of Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Washington Park and Jackson Park."
Who will run the show? Probably the Foundation will take the lead at least until the President leaves office; the Foundation will have to sign a formal contract and lease with the city. The Foundation is to work with the city and UC to set up structure for going forward including what infrastructure and transportation enhancements will be needed (very expensive with the city in financial difficulty). Also parsing National Archives rules and requirements that are quite meticulous.
Regarding UC, there is no mention of an "academic institute" or co-degree program, and both Marty Nesbit and President Zimmer made it clear the two institutions would be "good neighbors," this being a uniquely urban presidential center. The University is expected to be strongly involved in community engagement (including what is wanted for the community) and in bringing programs and resources together for revitalization. There could be some sharing of facilities abut other institutions will also be collaborating-- and it seems that the Foundation and the University agree with media urging that there needs to be a firewall and not one bending the other. (Media is also calling for the institute and library to be honest and not propagandistic or partisan in programming.)
Fundraising (UC says it will not be involved in this)-- up to 500M, including a large and sustainable endowment. In any case there are restrictions on this until the President is out of office.
What about community benefits? A geographically broadbased coalition has already drawn up draft for Benefits Agreement especially for Washington Park selection. Some groups in Woodlawn insist on the same should the choice be Jackson, but others including Rev. Brazier do not-- but put forth a set of objectives. UC Vice President Derek Douglas said he prefers an area Master Plan. Foundation head Marty Nesbitt told the Tribune (June 3 2015) the site was chosen in large part because there the center could drive economic growth within the surrounding community. "The Obama Foundation will independently raise all of the funds needed to construct the Obama Presidential Center, and we intend to work collaboratively with the city and community to ensure that every aspect of the future project maximizes benefits to teh South Side and to all Chicagoans." Documents outlined partnerships with CPS, CTA, Metra, IDODT, and other agencies. The only UC incentive is the 6 acres- no financial assistance or aid in fundraising.
And what is the city thinking of as enhancement for reachability, attractiveness and safety (and judging from other libraries, it will fall on the city)?
According to a Tribune article June 3 2015: If it's Washington Park it could be widening and redesigning sidewalks to the Green Line and complete-streets revamping of Garfield Blvd. Whether or not it's Jackson, these could go all the way east to the Outer Drive (planning process is underway). These could include crosswalk islands and bump outs, new and enhanced protected bike lanes, performance and art spaces, streetscape and furniture, and traffic timing. Green Line and bus and Metra operations and scheduling enhancements are proposed. Suggested is to revive the former UC/174 route as a circulator between the rail lines, the Museum Campus South sites and the library basically using Garfield-Morgan-55th as an axis. Other improvements specific to a Jackson Park site include fixing and reorganizing the Stony Island sidewalks, trails in and through Jackson Park and the Midway including lighting, and Metra viaducts at the Midway and 63rd. High on the list is improvement pedestrian crossings on the various streets including crossing the busy roadways. Metra service upgrades (remember the "Gold Line?") could be included. And simply ways to get people to come to the South Side.
April 22, Sen. Raoul introduced a leadership fast-tracked amendatory-statute bill providing interpretation of common law public trust doctrine to the effect that the city has the right to lease land and allow construction of a presidential library or museum on public parkland even if "located on formerly submerged land" as long as the public can access the grounds "in a manner consistent with its access to other public parks." The bill promptly passed committee without dissent and then the Senate 39-13. Thursday it passed the House 94-16 and went to the Governor, who later signed it with enthusiasm. This is an 'extra chance' devised by the Mayor, Foundation, and (Lynn Sweet of the Sun-Times said) a group of powerful allies and friends of the President and Mayor ready to arm-twist, since the selection of the UC bid is all but done save for the state uncertainty. The President and Foundation indicated their pleasure with the state action and personally thanked the legislative leaders and the Mayor's team. . Whether or not coincidentally, President Cassandra Francis of Friends of the Parks resigned the day before-- although FOTP emphatically said their suits and threats to sue continue. And the legislation could conceivably be voided on federal law or constitutional supersession. The mayor took the broadest view of the state bill by saying it protected all museum uses including the present museums in the parks. But it is significant that the bill upholds public access to museums and their grounds on the same basis as for parks in general and specifically requiring 52 free days a year for these two new museums.INFORMATION AND LINKS An excellent background article on presidential library history, context for the Obama library, and analyses on benefits is in the November 2014 issue of
Planning, article by Ruth Knack (past editor of the publication and immediate past president of Hyde Park Historical Society.) https://www.planning.org/planning/2014/nov/presidentialattics.htm (Ms. Knack tells this editor she thinks non subscribers may be able to read
but not download-- she is glad to furnish a link for that- contact firstname.lastname@example.org.) An excellent summary and analysis from the opposition side is provided by Charles Birnbaum of the national Cultural Heritage Foundation is in Huffington
Post Jan 12? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/charles-a-birnbaum/will-part-of-chicagos-his_b_6455036.html.
HL is one of several national groups taking notice of the controversy. Marc Monaghan writes an occasional photo blog that focuses on Chicago's South Side. Latest posts are images of the sections of Jackson and Washington Parks that are being considered for the Obama Library. Here is the link to the blog:
Several of the images posted were published in the April 22, 2015 issue of the HP Herald.
Find information below the January 12 2015 JPAC meeting extended discussion and Q and A held with the UC presenters Derek Douglas and Sonya Malunda as well as the Jan 13 and 14 public hearings.
c. January 16 2015. Here is the University's perspective on the hearings and support. http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2015/01/15/public-hearings-reflect-deep-support-obama-presidential-library-south-side?utm_source=%2A+UChicago+News+-+All+Subscribers&utm_campaign=4041787bc9-2014-01-15-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4d15d79ba2-4041787bc9-154060717.
The University's bid website is oplsouthside.org. This site has blogs etc. on the various meetings. and support
A very negative view of the University and the proposal to use park land can be found in the Reader online by Ben Joravsky. Similar with a different slant by Phil Rosenthal in the business section of the January 21 Tribune).
A Chicago Maroon editorial January 16 called for using the UC acres northwest of 55th and King for the Library rather than parkland.
The Herald online already has two articles posted online in the January 21 issue, by Lindsey Welbers on the hearings (in addition to one on the JPAC meeting and Jan. 14 issue on background) and by Jeff Bishku-Aykul on a meeting on broader Jackson Park planning and possible projects.
Recent developments. As predicted here, the Foundation and the Obamas have postponed their selection (or announcement ) of a winning bid until after the April 7 election. March 9 the Chicago Plan Commission unanimously approved the land transfer ordinance. March 11 a joint committee of City Council unanimously approved the transfer and March 18 the full City Council unanimously approved, 47-0 after Ald. Fioretti changed his vote after making a point for local hiring and make sure the facility is affordable for Chicago students. About an hour was devoted to statements, including some that preferred the West Side but would support any in Chicago. mayor Emanuel urged Friends of the Parks to become part of the "Chicago Team" rather than sue and that the city would work with them regarding parks and parkland issues.
Meanwhile, Lynn Sweet of the Sun-Times elucidated emails obtained under FOIA and going back to April 2014 among the Foundation, the University and others regarding siting and parkland. They reveal several meetings between the parties, some rather urgent. They seem to show that the Foundation (or Obama's) were at least aware, if not initiators, of the use of parkland, and apparently did not raise any concern about such use except wanting to secure good title to the land. The emails including between the Park District Board President Bryan Traubert (in Washington at the time) and U of C officers about use of park land started at least as early as April, 2014.(In November Mr. Traubert recused himself from PD deliberations and negotiations about the Library.) (Exactly when the UC proposal definitely became for parkland (plus 6 acres of UC land) is unclear, but Ms. Sher in a statement of March 2016 that they began mentioning it to stakeholders "over a year ago" starting with the Community Board February 7 2014. But recollection of this party is that the University only mentioned or confirmed to outsiders that parks were proposed when directly asked in stakeholder meetings, and sometimes deflected the question. Emails indicated that both sides were aware there would be problems and opposition. Once siting was made public in the December 2014 Initial Bid, U of C officers asked whom this was coming from at least once said it was the Obama's and Foundation, which felt the library needed to be in an historic park.
c March 18 Mayor Emanuel proposed Hyde Park High School as the "primary site for school partnerships" if the Library comes to the South Side. The U of C in its emails touted urban agriculture to the Obama, according to Sweet in the Sun-Times, At that time Dyett was to be closed. Since it is to be reopened in 2016 and has a strong agricultural component and a community proposal for a green and agriculture component, perhaps if Washington Park is chosen, Dyett could be considered as another primary center.
February 11 2015 the Park District Board passed its ordinance of land transfer after over an hour of public testimony and a 45-minute closed session. The vote was unanimous except that Commissioner Koldyke was absent and President Traubert recused himself. Vice President Avis Lavelle is quoted in the Herald as saying "We don't want you to think your voice wasn't heard. Without your voices there would probably be moe inclusions in park space."
The Foundation responded with the following release: "The Foundation welcomes the action of the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners which improve Chicago's bids for the Obama Presidential Center." "We appreciate the City of Chicago's efforts to develop a competitive and robust proposal and the engagement of the community and City Council in an open dialogue about the potential of a future Center. The Foundation is continuing to work with each institution to ensure we are able to make a comprehensive final recommendation to the President an first Lady."
Friends of the park sent a letter to the Obamas asking them to pick a non park site and continues to explore legal action.
Is it becoming political? It sure is. With run-off challenger Jesus Garcia issuing a strong statement February 26 opposing any placement of the library in parks and the Foundation citing its polls and seeming to insist on park siting and apparently still looking to a late March decision on bids before finding out April 7 who will be mayor! it looks like brinkmanship and muscling is the order of the day.
Chicago Forward, an Emanuel PAC, was conducting polling Feb 28 and March 1 with (to many Hyde Parkers writing in Good Neighbors) very leading questions and slamming Garcia for going against what "66% of South Siders" want. Expect more of the same from multiple sides.
The Garcia campaign issued the following statement Feb. 28/March 1- but their (Garcia's voice) robocalls have a shortened version that leaves out the reservations about it being in the park expressed in the release below.
"I have never wavered in my full support of bringing the Obama Presidential Library to Chicago. I served with the President in the Illinois Senate. I have always supported President Obama. His legacy -- and his library --belongs right here, in Chicago."
"While it is my view that the library does not have to come at the expense of public park land that has enormous historical significance for everyone in Chicago, I will support the South or West side site. As mayor, I will do everything within my power to make certain that the Obama Presidential Library is built in Chicago, and that the jobs and contracts that go with it benefit the community, as well."
Between the Jan 13-14 hearings and the Park District passage. Mayor Emanuel said the hearings show support, even if the library requires parkland. He would meet in short order with the Foundation, U of C and Park District "to come up with a consensus of what we do next" according to a Sun-Times article January 17. "I'll bring the parties together. Make sure I know what the remaining issues are and then we'll address them so that the President and his foundation can make the right decision. I want to remove any questions so that... it's an easy decision." He said it is "premature" but an ordinance would be drafted regarding transfer and what guarantees there would be on replacing parkland.
Jan. 21 the Mayor introduced an ordinance in City Council for vote March 18 (City Council skips Feb. this year for "election season"-- an open three-committee joint hearing is to be scheduled, but had not been as of January 28) which ordinance will "allow the library to be built in one of the parks"- to frame an intergovernmental agreement for the February CPkD board meeting (because the Foundation wants to pass on its recommendation for the Obama family decision in March--which will cut it close for the expected March selection of one of four bids by the Obamas even though sources to the dailies that have by implication seen draft) say it will be many months before which park and the actual site would be selected should the UC bid be selected).
Two provisions said in the Sun-Times Jan. 21 to be in the draft -- [it is] "expected that the foundation" [would use up to] five acres for the "presidential center" with the rest of the land "to remain landscaped open space" - Tribune quote says "open space on the presidential center grounds" (which may mean the ordinance doesn't deal with whether that remaining acreage can be fenced and made off-limits to non-Presidential Center visitors-- how is "open space" defined?). Draft section that has been read to this writer explicitly says the library can only have up to 5 acres- this change was made after aldermen indicated the 20 acres was too much. So that rest will be maintained as landscaped. Caution: page 3 of the draft still says up to the c20 acres, or as much of that as the Foundation wants, but only up to 5 for the facility, the rest to be landscaped open space. SO 20 WILL BE CONVEYED, UNLESS THIS IS TO BE CHANGED WHEN IT COMES TO COMMITTEE. (Note, changes are often not incorporated in the body until the markup stage as presented to the committee or full City Council.) Alderman Hairston (pers. communication) is certain the land to be transferred and built upon is now 5, recognizing there will be much to discuss about public use and access in the re landscaped area.
SEE KEY PROVISIONS OF THE ORDINANCE below.
LINK TO THE ORDINANCE (downloadable)- https://chicago.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=3452499&GUID=7CBCA487-833C-4828-B455-66C1CCD10E3F
There was a fuss when it became clear that only the up-to-five acres for the "Center" will be replaced with new parkland, however that is understandable if the land to be ceded is indeed only up to 5 acres. The Mayor boasted and took credit for, as he and the Park District have in the past, for the hundreds of acres that have created new parks and green spaces in recent years-- and at least implied that is enough new parkland. This appeared at least to media that replacement for only the 5 acres is low-balling the value of parks (ed.- cheapening?), and the PD, which only gets one dollar for the swap. The Mayor and at least two (Will Burns and Pat Dowell) of the supporting aldermen said that is enough, but also seemed to introduce confusion about what is "open" land (let alone "free" or "clear") citing restrictions now on public use and access, so what's the difference if someone can't use the other 15 acres either- one can't do anything one wants anyway. So the concept of "open" land as well as its value is now in controversy. And apparently there is not a provision in state law or municipal code governing conditions and amounts of land trades, just that it can be done. Whether there is any provision in the Park District Code would have to be researched.
NOTE, THE CHICAGO MAROON OF JANUARY 23 CITES U OF C SPOKESPERSON JEF MANIER AS SAYING THE UNIVERSITY WILL NOT BUY OR SUPPLY ANY LAND BEYOND THE 11 ACRES WEST OF THE PARK IT HAS ALREADY OFFERED. BUT IFTHE FOUNDATION ASKS FOR MORE (SUCH AS TO AVOID USING PARKLAND) THE UNIVERSITY WILL HELP ASSEMBLE IT.
According to the Sun-Times, the Mayor/ordinance has also (a second compromise in addition to limiting the acreage) committed to "assembling a group of leaders from open space and community groups to identify nearby land (but Tribune says the draft says elsewhere in the city) that can be converted to green space to replace the green space lost [and to look for opportunities to reinvest and restore Olmstead [sic] parks" -- the Tribune says only the 3-5 acres for the Center will be replaced to the park district-- so the ordinance will have to be read carefully (after it has already passed).. The Tribune says (quoting its unnamed source) the committee will also develop guidelines to make sure the Olmsted vision is maintained in the acres surrounding the Center as well as throughout the park: "That... is why we're creating an open space committee aimed at figuring out how to revitalize and invest in the park now that it has such a major anchor investment in it. That committee will focus on the other 15 acres and the remainder of the park"). The draft is said to spell out how the foundation, city, and Park District relationship would operate. Such agreement will very likely transfer land to the city (c. 20 acres) in whichever park is chosen, ensure reversion to the park district if the Library is not built at this or the other location or closes, provisions for respecting Olmsted design though apparently not boundaries, as well as specifics of governing land replacement and park improvements, and cost - the PD would lease the land to the city at $1 (the nom-selected park(s) land reverting to PD control) and eventually a long-term land-lease with the Foundation (involving operations by the National Archives) would be signed. Chicago Park District will take up the agreements at its February 11 board meeting, 3:30 pm, expected to be at hq at 541 N. Fairbanks 4th floor, probably with a committee meeting a bit before. Sign up to speak can be online until the Tuesday evening before or in person up to one half hour ahead of the meeting. City Council will take it up March 18.
What is the authority cited in the ordinance (according to the Tribune) for such a transfer? An Illinois law that authorizes municipalities to convey, grant or transfer real estate held by the municipality to any other municipality upon the agreement of the respective parties. Nothing seems set a guideline for how this is done-- unless CPC Code does.
What does the ordinance say is the reason for this agreement (as quoted in the Tribune): "The city wishes to demonstrate its robust commitment to brining the Presidential Center to Chicago as it would indelibly seal President Obama's close and abiding relationship to the city as well as provide a unique cultural and economic opportunity for Chicago's residents."
Unknown is when the Foundation will disclose which park the President prefers-- Commentators have suggested that having one site indicated now by the Foundation would make it easier to both frame the intergovernmental agreement, make the process more transparent, and simplify things. One source to media suggested this may not happen until fall or winter. Noted: Jackson Park sites would have to be approved by the Plan Commission because under the Lakefront Protection Ordinance (but Washington site is important enough and a "planned development" so one expects it would also go to the Commission, as well as Community Development Commission and maybe others. However, that might not happen until an agreement with the Foundation is inked-- no one has said that the intergovernmental agreement would by itself go to the Commission. Ed. comment: the Plan Commission almost always goes with what a Mayor and the aldermen - the four involved have signed letters in favor-- want.
Open space groups are opposed not only to building in the parks but to any transfer or lease to the city (understood for purpose of leasing or transfer to a third party and are considering a lawsuit (even though buildings including for special uses or groups are often approved for parks, historic or not and land is frequently traded between the park district and the city and its sub agencies-- the groups cite a slippery-slope precedent and Friends of the Parks President Frances have said no amount of land would compensate and "park positive" is off the table ). they suggest with current move to digitalization the library and archives could be smaller than in the past and easily fit in 11 acres.
Among the groups that have sent FOTP letters in opposition to the library in parks:
Cultural Landscape Foundation
National Association of Olmsted Parks
Bronzeville Historical Society
Washington Park Conservancy
Chicago Maroon (UofC student newspaper)
Hyde Park Historical Society
Thinkers about park and open space and architecture and the environment have written extended pieces with suggestions-- the Ranney's Mr. Birnbaum are referenced here. February 22 Blair Kamin published in the Tribune a very thoughtful piece on options and guidelines. His first concern is to not "trample on Olmsted's park treasure: Any Obama library plans must respect historic landscapes... proceed with caution." His choice would be to have it outside a park, such as along side Washington Park. He cites the newly published Olmsted Papers--Omsted's care with details as well as the whole, his aversion to adding different structures to the parks as compromising the purpose of large urban parks.
Kamin says the right question is not can the 11 acres accommodate the Library but rather, "Is all this acreage necessary?" It should be built on an urban model that encourages access by transit, walking and biking, and no surface parking lots.
But if the insistence is on having it in a park.... it has to stress sustainability and sensitivity and not be a detracting spectacle. His ideas include:
- proportionate scale-- not taller than the surrounding trees
- break it up into 2 or 3 smaller buildings whose contours and materials de-emphasizing mass (the long, narrow sites encourage this)
- no large surface lot or above-ground garage; parking preferably be not in the park.
- every occupied acre should be replace with nearby parkland, and suggests the replacement track and field be moved outside Jackson Park
- highest possible sustainability and low energy footprint including solar, and upgraded transit facilities
- look at integrating the library into a museum campus south and revitalized, redeveloped neighborhoods
Planning: All the Olmsted parks have benchmark design years or "templates" and have undergone framework planning over the around 16-14 years ago and there has been revisitation, starting before at least most people were thinking Library and continuing now. The park district website, chicagoparkdistrict.com, Assets section, has the framework plans and much else about the parks- see for Washington http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/assets/1/7/Washington_Park_Framework_Plan.pdf.
What about historic register and other status? One would guess the change in registry park would have to be substantial, like that to Soldier Field, or to a section such as the arboretum and the Hyde Park London-type forum in Washington Park, but not necessarily. Opposition or reservation from Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, which reviews projects using federal funds for the National Trust and Park Service/Dept. of Interior, is among the reasons killing the proposed substantial change to the Washington Park lagoons in 2009. But IHPA did not object to the ACE project in Jackson Park. Sam Cholke in DNAinfo.com has reached out to the overseeing agencies for guidance. According to Cholke, Karen Mudar of the National Park Service said transfer of land from CPD to the city would not trigger their intervention. But request for federal fund use permits, licenses would trigger a "Section 106 Review." This would involve notification to and review of documents and testimony by many "interested parties." A 106 review is not about stopping but mitigation of plans-- of course if the mitigations asked were considered too onerous or counter to purpose, the project might be dropped. IHPA would also be involved in any request for state funds. Rachel Liebowitz, Spokesperson for IHPA told DNA that the state would also want to conduct archeological and other reconnaissance/survey before approving a project, for example in Jackson, where the site had several Columbian Exposition buildings such as Horticultural-- it is not clear (to this editor) whether such would apply only to the chosen "5 acres" site. It should be noted again that these kinds of reviews have not stopped structures in parks, including long-term leases (free for the Art Institute at least) to private institutions for as long as they forward their original mission.
Environmental impact studies would also be required -- how deep these are varies from project to project.
Questions include- what is the purpose of a park, especially one with historic design and protection? How special does a change or building have to be to past muster and be added to cluster already there? How does the proposal enhance the park and or the visitor experience or serve immediate and larger communities? How much restriction of open access is too much? How important, historic, nature-serving or replaceable are the current uses, features or spaces? And should the Library be considered public, private, or a partnership?
What do the local elected officials say? Those who have spoken in general strongly support the library, even if it has to go in parks, and the 4 closest aldermen signed a letter to the Mayor but have not commented to press. Alderman Burns, 4th Ward, seems to spoken at the most length. He told the January 24 HPKCC aldermanic candidate forum, as heard by this writer and confirmed in the January 28 Herald, that the President will decide the what and where adn will have to explain its value to the South Side."We don't know what the President is going to do... but if he chooses Washington Park he'll have to provide a design to the community for what that library will be. He'll have to talk about how that library is going to enhance open space. There will have to be a full conversation about the commitments that will be made to improve open space on the South Side of Chicago and that's where the community's opportunity is to engage with the presidential foundation to make sure that the presidential foundation becomes a win-win if it's selected for Washington Park."
Alderman Hairston has told groups that the University was secretive and disingenous and invited problems. She was not asked in this writer's presence whether she will oppose or vote against the ordinance of transfer.
What does the public say? The Foundation took a poll Feb . 9-16 in wards near Washington and Jackson Parks (3, 4, 5, 20), administered by Cornell Belcher's firm. 603 voters were asked, first if they supported the library on the South Side (90% for, 6% opposed), then, would they support if 20 or so acres were used in one of the parks (or similar)- opposed went up to 24%; finally they were told that if the parkland were not provided the library would not come- opposition dropped to 14%. The Foundation did not poll near any of the other bidders, where is not dispute over their siting.
A Tribune poll Friday Jan. 30 shows 62% of city residents supporting using parkland. The largest demographic supporting is 77% among African Americans. Supporters of Rahm Emanuel (supports) strongly support the library in a park, a slightly less majority of supporters of Chuy Garcia (wlho opposes) support the library in a park-- perhaps reflecting that non-Rahm supporters break towards Garcia, but a goodly majority of Fioretti's (who also opposes) supporters oppose the library in a park.
The University of Chicago also commissioned a survey in late January/February, which they say shows 80% support. The survey questions have been questioned. They can be read in the OPLSouthSide site.
BTW, according to the Tribune, almost every demographic (except whites-majority for) is indifferent or unenthusiastic about both the Lucas Museum and the lawsuit against it (pluralities opposing the lawsuit).
Letters and comments and columns for and against continue to pour into media and social media. These range from view that the parks or park parts are underutilized or poorly kept up and well worth the cause especially since we've used parks for even private uses and structures seldom for celebrating blacks to view that these parks are specially designed and historic, that open pace should not be given up period and especially when there is long-vacant land in the area, and that the proposed spaces currently have many and diverse uses important to many-- in Jackson Park the track and field and in Washington the arboretum, public forum of especial importance to blacks and black history and the running bridle path. Also fear of spillover degradation of natural area and its experience in Jackson or playing fields an picnic and Dyett in Washington, and fear that there will be an escalation of public restriction in either-- people (especially black neighbors) feeling they and their uses are unwelcome, restricted permitting, and policing.
Updates December 31, 2014 and January 3 forward 2015-- expect further updates and discussion. The recommended sites are in Jackson Park between Stony and Cornell, 60th and 63rd (larger than most had expected) and Washington Park between King and Elsworth, 51st an 55th/Garfield- the later including 11 acres owned by U of C CTA and possibly others on the NORTH side of Garfield Blvd.
Hearings. The matter was presented and discussed (not a hearing and no action taken) at the January 12 Jackson Park Advisory Council meeting. Most of the 20 or so speakers were for the Library on the South Side but opposed or had reservations or questions about siting it in a park, particularly the historic Olmsted parks and in Washington at the arboretum, or about transfer of land in an Olmsted template from CPD to the city. Some strongly supported the library if in a park and said the Obama Library meets the bar for park appropriate. No actions were taken. The JPAC board's position was simply that "JPAC welcomes the Obama Library on the South Side of Chicago."
January 13 an evening public hearing was held at Hyde Park High School and January 14 a noon public hearing was held in Washington Park fieldhouse. Both had overflow audiences of more than 1,000. There have been differing takes in media and blogs about how well the overflow was accommodated, orderliness (moderator Avis LaVelle had to call for order several times at the Hyde Park High meeting), significance of demonstrations mostly on side issues for which the demonstrators wanted linkage, and the degree of support vs opposition. Most agree that the proponents outnumbered the latter, but many noted that large numbers were bused in by churches, schools, arms of the University and the city-- and certainly were (allowed or simply signed up first) allowed to speak first after the elected officials. Many of the opponents and some supporters recommended most or all at lest of buildings be on the 11 acres west of the park currently owned by U of C and CTA and currently on the table along with the 20 acres along the west edge of the park. . A short presentation of sites and benefits preceded by Skidmore, Owings, Merrill architect Philip Enquist.
January 5-forward 2015. The daily papers announced that Mayor Emanuel took control of the land acquisition and siting issues of the UC bid. THE CITY SET UP TWO HEARINGS FOR NEXT WEEK, RULED OUT SOUTH SHORE CULTURAL CENTER AS A SITE, AND PROPOSES THAT THE NEEDED LAND (particularly any needed park land, which could be over 20 acres) BE CEDED FROM THE PARK DISTRICT TO THE CITY.
January 8. After lengthy board discussion, the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference affirmed its support for having the Obama Library on the South Side of Chicago; it did not offer an opinion on the siting or conditions in the U of C bid.
January 11 Tribune (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-chicago-washington-jackson-park-obama-library-south-side-perspec-0104-20150109-story.html) carried a feature by highly respected George and Vicky Ranney with 5 points for principles and compromise on the Library, largely endorsed in the Tribune's editorial that day. (Perhaps these could be recommendations to the Foundation for developing its plan.)
The p0ints (in addition to a brief history of the historical character and footprints of the two parks and what kinds of "make-ups" would not be acceptable): 1. Minimize building in the parks and greatly reduce the amount of acreage to be used to c. 5 (observation: the 20 in effect becoming nothing more than an "in this area" For Jackson that is harder, suggested was at or near a place in the proposed site suggested by Olmsted in 1871 for an admin. bldg. For Washington the building should be outside the park.
2. Replace used land with new or reclaimed park acreage, including removal of service yards in both parks. (Observation: The Project 120 framework already designated many blocks of acreage reclaimed for traditional park uses.) The Ranney's also propose putting Cornell Dr. underground to reconnect the west edge, and library, to the lagoon natural area. (Observation-- this would difficult, expensive and possibly harmful to the natural areas and water table; suggested in the new framework is a drastic road diet and calming for Cornell Drive.) They also suggest, as do others, reopening the south entry and pavilion of the Museum to the park--which was the main entry to the Palace of Fine Arts.) (Obs.- the west is already so done, could have a walk from there around the north side of the Basin including to the South Steps MSI entry and pavilion.)
3. Convenient public access and transportation including hubs and shuttles. Place parking outside the parks or underground; if Jackson find a way to share with MSI's.
4. Exploit synergies with existing community and cultual institutions including the University and its Harris (Law, SSA...) schools.
5. Restore and revitalize the parks.
The Tribune emphasized that the designated acreage is way too large, that no acreage elsewhere would make these historic parks whole. The Tribune hopes that by the time of the hearings a way will have been found to leave the parks alone, else UIC has to be considered or other sites such as Lakeside have to be brought back. It asks, what does the President wish for his legacy-- revitalizing distressed neighborhood or grabbing priceless legacy park land?
Lynn Sweet in the Jan. 13 Sun-Times urged that an oversight board be set up with authority. She said the President favors the Washington Park site.
An excellent summary and analysis is provided by Charles Birnbaum in Huffington Post Jan 12? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/charles-a-birnbaum/will-part-of-chicagos-his_b_6455036.html.
The U of C after these announcements says it wants 22 acres in Washington Park or 20-21 in Jackson. Washington's would be on the west edge west of Ellsworth between 55th and 51st and would go with 11 acres outside the park. Jackson's would be on the west edge west of Cornell between 60th and 63rd. In both cases the library would be expected to take up between 5 and 10 acres with the rest green space and a non-concrete promise of more parkland "nearby" than lost and park improvements. All 4 aldermen whose wards include the sites signed a letter of support qualified with need for "oversight." Ald. Burns and Dowell and the Sun-Times call for a spelled out agreement including benefits but support the move, Burns calling it a matter of equity esp. for WP neighborhood and Bronzeville, touting development for every South Side community. Ald. Hairston had not yet revealed a position. Ald. Moore was said to be very concerned about the loss of parkland and city takeover. Marty Nesbit of the Foundation tried to downplay the concerns and said that all 4 bidders were upgrading their proposals and praised UC for releasing more information and more community engagement. Sen. Durbin said the first family is concerned about the "loose ends" in Chicago. Of the park councils. Cecilia Butler of WPAC told the Sun-times she had lunch with the UC team leaders and told them of her strong opposition to the WP plan (that, inter alia would threaten the arboretum). (The main facility threatened in Jackson is the track and field paid for by NFL and Take the Field Foundation led by Park Board president Bryan Traubert and his wife Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.) Jackson PAC so far has said only that it would like see the Library on the South Side. Based on statements, Bronzeville groups support but want benefits agreements, South East Chicago Commission enthusiastically supports. Friends of the Parks has again issued a clarion call for not in parks but supporting west of Washington Park or the UIC bid.
Public opinion ahead of the hearings, as gauged in Good Neighbors block is strongly divided, with lots of cogent points made by the writers.
In the January 3 Sun-Times, Lynn Sweet reported that in response to concerns of the foundation about the UC Bid, specifically lack of progress and progress on land assembly and control and land being currently under 2ndary municipal agencies including the park district and CTA, the Mayor's Office will take charge and announce a process in the following week. Meantime, she said, the University has put the most problematic site, South Shore Cultural Center on a back burner (being lakefront and landrmarked, so likely to invite a lawsuit and opposition as well as being out of the university's area of closest convenience and interest) and is giving priority to the 55th-King area- whether that continues to include library partially in the park or some improvements/adjuncts in the west edge of the park was unsaid.
The December 31 2014 Chicago Sun-Times (Lynn Sweet) and Chicago Tribune (mmharris) and other media reported that the Foundation told the remaining Chicago bidders (UC and UIC) and the city that it has serious problems with the bids. How serious is hard to determine. The main concern with UIC's is with lots of turnover in leadership at the campus and UI and the state, concerns that are likely answered with strong letters of endorsement. That with UC seems to be more serious-- lack in the bid of a plan or assurance to have the property in hand and ready to convey. According to the articles, the Foundation wants at least that the city control the land and be in a position to commit it, if possible by the end of the first quarter of 2015 when the Obamas are supposed to select the bidder-- but that may be allowed to slip. It is also possible to read in the articles that, based on reports and Mayoral spokesmen statements which indicated ongoing meetings of foundation representatives with the city as well as the University, the Foundation would like the site to be theirs-- which the Mayoral spokesperson said is off the table-- it must remain "public"-- notice, did not say "parks." Reports say that the land being now in Park District rather than city property ready to convey (particularly Jackson and South Shore Cultural Center and part of Washington) is at the heart of the Foundation's concern-- they don't want stages of transfer and negotiation or the land belonging to a party that is not clearly the City of Chicago and think the city should have had control of the land at this stage regardless of whatever swaps are needed to ensure no loss of parkland, public access, community input etc. All parties (Foundation, city, UC...) say they are fully aware of the obstacles presented by opposition or concern to use or giving away of park land and threats of litigation, but seem to think they can get around it, but that would seem difficult in the short timeframe-- and taking longer may solidify opposition. (Friends of the parks has recently sent a letter directly to the Obamas asking them not to choose park land but rather the site west of (and to be outside) Washington Park or else choose the UIC bid.) Friends of the Parks says conveying land the park district for new parks and or improvements to the selected or other parks is unacceptable and the "the land is not the U of C's to offer" and that transfer-- calling it city land-- is not acceptable. Compounding this is that the bidder has not submitted a formal ask to the Park District (although they have been in discussions.) Park Board President Bryan Traubert (whose wife Penny Pritzker is a member of President Obama's cabinet and who with his wife is a prospective donor to the Library) recused himself in fall 2014 from dealing with or voting on the matter when it comes up, putting in charge vp Avis Lavelle, who insisted there must be community process and cannot be loss of (total?) park land.
June 23, 2014 JPAC members were surprised to see in the Chicago dailies in early June that that one of the close-in bid RFQ applicants with sites for the Obama Presidential Library, the University of Chicago, was said to propose three sites in or at parks, including Jackson, north of 63rd across from Hyde Park Career Academy between Stony Island and Cornell Dr. and one possibly spanning 67th at the shore into South Shore Cultural Center property. According to quotes and attributions in the July 2 Hyde Park Herald with UC VP Derek Douglas, the University did not propose sites but said they would like to see the library on the south side but would support what the Obama's want and work with any institutions they designated. Nevertheless, he said, the bid "suggested" three locations that it thought could benefit economically from the library, apparently the sites they say they did not propose. (Leaders of the UC bid had previously told community organizations they would not be specific but hinted a preference for the E. Garfield site west of King Dr.-- more recently that site would take a small part of Washington Park such as for a garden.) In December, the Chicago Maroon quoted University Communications officers as saying UC is exploring a collaboration with the University of Hawaii wherein the physical library would be on the South Side of Chicago with a virtual link or site in Hawaii. Final bids from the final 4 are due December 11 with Obama/foundation decision as early as January.
The University and media are now pressing for people to go the Foundation site (obamafoundation.org) and encourage selection of the South Side stating how the library would help the South Side and what the South Side could bring to the Library. Advocacy groups on the other hand are gearing up to oppose any siting on park land. It has been pointed out that libraries are complex, with lots of security and space needs. Some councils are looking at ways the Library could be leveraged for park improvements and community benefits. University and park representatives have gone to South Shore's council to gauge sentiment and are expected to come to JPAC in January. Neither Jackson Park Advisory Council nor South Shore CC AC have take votes or positions, but have had discussion at meetings (SS more-- SS wrote a letter to Supt. Kelly asking for someone to come, which they did in November).
The December 2 Chicago Maroon reports JPAC President Louise McCurry as saying the University (sr. assoc. vp Sonya Malunda) has reached out to JPAC asking for advice and agreeing to come to the January meeting. McCurry was cited as saying at the November JPAC meeting that 63rd and Stony Island was a potential site and said in a later interview with reporter Ankit Jain that that site would work logistically. [However, McCurry appeared to this writer to be referring to the area of old shops south of 63rd, not the open space to the north, although that was not clear.] The Maroon cites McCurry as saying JPAC wil not make a decision on the Library until they see more details "The thing is, we don't know yet where they're going. We'll look at the proposal carefully and see what's there. At this point, having the Obama library anywhere close to us in Hyde Park would be wonderful."
Vice President Frances Vandervoort, the Maroon said, "warned that the council would be monitoring the potential environmental consequences of the library very closely. 'We will do our best to ensure that we hold the University's feet to the fire in terms of environmental support,' she said."
MEANWHILE ALSO DECEMBER 1, FRIENDS OF THE PARKS ISSUED ITS FIRST EVER 10 MOST ENDANGERED PARKS, as reported in a Hyde Park Herald issue that hit the streets ahead of the city dailies or broad distribution of the Release. Listed #1 was the section of Burnham Park over which FOTP is suing on grounds that the site is reclaimed landfill from navigable Lake Michigan and therefore under law in reserve in the public interest. Listed as #2 is the Jackson Park site for the Obama Library, #3 South Shore Cultural Center and #4 Washington Park as sites for the Library. FOTP's and President Cassandra Francis' public statement announcing the list says that the list "includes parks and open space which are threatened or have an uncertain future due to inappropriate development, neglect, inadequate funding, damaging policies, or harmful Administration actions." "In the next 30 years, Cook County is expected to grow by almost 17 percent, adding over 850,00 residents and over 435,00 more jobs. This growth further creates the convergence of adverse forces: the demand to build in our urban open spaces versus the need of city residents and visitors to access these open areas as a respite from increasing urban density... This is why it is so important to preserve and expand our city's open natural areas. Our parks and open spaces are the 'lungs of the city' providing not only crucial quality of life benefits but also increasing the competitiveness of Chicago relative to other North American cities."FOTP makes the distinction that it enthusiastically supports the Library, including near a great park, but opposes placing it directly IN a park", Francis adding "These are historic Chicago parks and they're very intentionally planned as large open spaces. In particular when there's so much vacant land in the city and in these neighborhoods we would oppose siting in the park and would encourage the U. of C. to look at some of these alternative vacant sites and bring the energy to a neighborhood where economic development is so necessary." She suggest a high-rise building west of Washington Park. According to the Herald, University of Chicago spokesperson Jeremy Manier cited the enthusiastic support of South Siders in over 200 meetings for the library, cited benefits, and declined to comment on the FOTP list or the library in a park.
ALSO DECEMBER 2 , it was revealed in a Sun-Times article that the Park District is taking a close look at the matter of using park land for the Library. Chicago Park District. President Traubert as of the November CPD board meeting, has recused himself from discussions and votes because of his close involvement funding park improvements and his wife Penny Pritzker's involvement in the Obama Administration (where she is Secretary of Commerce) and likely because they would likely donate to the Library. Lead responsibilities, according to the Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet, will be taken by Commissioner Avis LaVelle. LaVelle promises to seek "public input. over giving up public park land in Chicago, no matter how worthy the cause." Sweet quotes LaVelle as telling her "It is clear there will have to be a process... There will have to be a deliberative process that allows for full discussion, and input from all stakeholders." Likewise, Susan Sher of the University told Sweet December 1 that she has talked with Superintendent Kelly and the UC intends to be "park positive." "Of course there will be a public process. But our discussions have been about restoring park lands" and making sure the "parks are more beautiful and restored." Sweet said Sher did not specify what the UC would pledge but that lost acreage would be made up-- "no decrease and hopefully an increase in park land that is accessible to the public."
Jackson Park is in a historic, Federal Registered Olmsted park, and South Shore Cultural Center is city landmarked. Many will oppose another facility. public or private on in a park, especially on on or an extension from a Lakefront that is supposed to be open and clear. JPAC has not yet considered the matter. The bids will not be released publicly by the Foundation. Whether U of C will be more specific in the actual RFP, if asked to submit one, is unclear. The U of C bid website (which says nothing about sites) is http://www.oplsouthside.org.
Friends of the Parks may host a public meeting on the future of open space and parks tba.
Proposed community benefits agreement from Washington Park neighborhood groups
1. Develop a Southside Trauma Unit by joining Cook County Provident Hospital and the University of Chicago Hospitals
2. Retention of affordable and low-income housing
3. Training programs resulting in job creation and a living wage
4. Fence in all vacant lots owned by the University of Chicago
5. No displacement of any tenants in buildings acquired by the University and give tenants an open-infinity lease
6. Help create a Solar Power Energy Incubator
7. Share community plans, stated or unstated, with community residents
8. Provide Washington Park residents the same and/or similar benefits afforded to residents in adjoining communities, i.e., Hyde Park, Kenwood, Oakland, and Woodlawn
9. Grants for residents of Washington Park for education, i.e., kindergarten through degree programs
10. Partner with the Chicago Park District to create a ceramics program with a kiln
11. Retain the standards of the Chicago Park District and remove all signage from within Washington Park
12. Set up a construction apprentice training program, resulting in the position of journeymen
13. Support the creation of a Green Community Co-Op grocery store
14. Support the Washington Park Historical Society with the use of the historic Green Line"El"
location on Garfield Boulevard (55th Street)
15. Through legal assistance and tax workshops, inform Washington Park residents about the services (as provided to Beverly residents) for maintaining property taxes while increasing property values
16. Support the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School and keep it within the public school system and create pre-apprentice and vocational training programs
17. Proper acknowledgement of Lorado Taft, and the prominence he created for the Midway Studios
18. Identify the real estate corporations within Washington Park that are affiliated with the University of Chicago
19. Assist in creating a recycle and reuse manufacturing site near the train tracks between Perry and LaSalle Avenues
20. Support the creation of jobs from the Industrial Corridor located within the newly formed Washington Park TIF from 63rd to 67th Streets, from Prairie to the Skyway
21. Scientific examination on the ComEd electro magnetic towers on the railroad tracks east of the Dan Ryan and their harmful effects
22. Keep the Washington Park Forum in the Tree Arboretum
23. Softball stadium on the Harold Washington Common Ground
UC releases at time of RFQ (initial) submission)
(see separately Chicago Tonight program June 16 2014)- http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2014/06/16/chicago-contenders-obama-library)
Dear Community Partner,
Yesterday, the University of Chicago submitted its response to the Barack Obama Foundation’s Request for Qualifications (RFQ). This is an early step in making the case that the South Side would be an ideal location for the Barack Obama Presidential Library, and many individuals and organizations in our neighboring communities and elsewhere in the City have been an important part of this submission.
Over the past few months, many of you have met with us or other University leaders, written letters of support, or shared your ideas about the cultural,
economic, and collaborative opportunities the Obama Presidential Library could bring to the South Side of Chicago. Thank you for taking the time to contribute to this historic process.
Sometime this summer, we expect the Barack Obama Foundation to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to the most competitive applicants from the RFQ phase. We hope the University will be invited to participate, and we look forward to continuing to work with our community partners, the City of Chicago, elected officials, civic leaders, and cultural and educational institutions to deliver a strong proposal to bring the Library to the heart of the South Side.
We would like to keep you informed on our efforts. Visit the oplsouthside.org website to sign up to receive regular email updates.
To read the University’s announcement about our RFQ submission, [see below].
Susan S. Sher
Senior Advisor to the President at the University of Chicago
Derek R.B. Douglas
Vice President for Civic Engagement
University to submit collaborative proposal for Barack Obama Presidential Library on South Side (news.uchicago.edu/article/2014/06.15/university-submit-collaborative-proposal-barack-obama-presidential-library-south-#hash.iZ20dA.dpuf.)
Potential partners meet to discuss ideas for maximizing library’s impact
By Jeremy Manier
June 15, 2014
After months of consultation with a broad set of community and university partners, the University of Chicago will submit a proposal on June 16 to the Barack Obama Foundation in support of locating the Barack Obama Presidential Library on Chicago’s South Side.
A UChicago faculty committee that examined presidential libraries concluded last year that it would be in the interest of the University to bring such a project to the South Side. The June 16 submission will respond to the foundation’s request for qualifications, issued in March, which asked interested organizations for a range of supporting information.
Barack Obama Presidential Library on Chicago's South Side Would be 'economic boon,' study finds
Learn more about the effort to bring the presidential library to the South Side
Building the potential for collaborations around a presidential library has been a key part of the University’s effort. In the course of dozens of meetings, community members and organizations have expressed overwhelming enthusiasm for the potential of a presidential library to make a substantial economic impact on the South Side, and to create a vital cultural destination drawing visitors from around the globe.
“We believe this could be an historic moment for the South Side,” said Susan Sher, senior advisor to President Robert J. Zimmer. Sher is coordinating the University’s activities around the presidential library project, inviting partners from across Chicago and beyond to generate ideas for how the library could make a distinctive impact on the South Side — and how the community could provide unique opportunities for the library.
The University is proposing that the presidential library be located off-campus, in one of the neighboring communities that could greatly benefit from the economic development the library would bring. An economic impact study that the University commissioned estimated that the library project would create 1,900 new, permanent jobs, with $220 million in annual economic impact and 800,000 annual visitors. The report also projected that in the neighborhoods surrounding the library, the development could support 30 new restaurants, 11 new retail outlets and a new hotel.
Federal law provides that presidential libraries are independent, non-partisan institutions managed by the National Archives and Records Administration. President Obama’s library will be constructed with funds donated to the non-profit Barack Obama Foundation, which has announced a phased process for choosing a site. After the RFQ phase, the foundation has said it will issue a Request for Proposals to the most competitive applicants, with final selection of a site in early 2015. The decision of where to place the library is up to President Obama and Mrs. Obama.
Fresh ideas for collaboration
Although the specific nature of programming at the library will be determined by the library’s leadership at a later date, the foundation’s RFQ indicated an interest in developing partnerships with multiple organizations. The University has convened meetings with numerous groups that have expressed interest in participating, and those talks have yielded ideas from a wide range of organizations.
To highlight a few of the many promising ideas, some of the potential collaborators came together recently to discuss how a presidential library could make a difference on the South Side while educating and inspiring young people from around the world. The panelists were Torrey L. Barrett, Executive Director of the KLEO Community Family Life Center; Dr. Byron T. Brazier, pastor of the Apostolic Church of God and Chairman of the Network of Woodlawn; James G. Keane, President and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago; David R. Mosena, President and CEO of the Museum of Science and Industry; Kamau Murray, President and Founder of the XS Tennis and Education Foundation; and Sophia Shaw, President and CEO of the Chicago Botanic Garden.
Shaw is prepared to offer the Chicago Botanic Garden’s counsel in building garden components at the library, creating “a thriving place for learning, for inspiration, and for growth.” She noted that the Chicago Botanic Garden already administers extensive efforts in sustainable urban farming across Chicago, including a 20,000 square foot garden on the convention center rooftop of McCormick Place near downtown Chicago. Her group partners with many Chicago institutions to offer training for youth, adults, and ex-offenders.
Barrett said he is excited by the possibility of hosting joint events with the library to complement his organization’s efforts to help young men recently released from the criminal justice system. Partnering with the library could allow his group to expand its programming for grandparents raising grandchildren whose parents were victims of violence, he said. Engaging with the community would help the library inspire youth to learn how to become involved in politics, Barrett said.
The Museum of Science and Industry could work with the library to expand its outreach in STEM education and science clubs, Mosena said. That involvement also could motivate students and educators to “be part of a dialogue on how public policy about science is shaped by a president, and how it can shape the nation’s future,” he said.
Murray sees the presidential library as potentially an ideal partner for efforts like XS Tennis, which provides free tennis instruction to 2,000 Chicago students per week and is the nation’s largest minority tennis foundation. His organization is ready to work with the library on outreach to students through efforts like free tutoring and nutrition education.
“This will be a great place for organizations to come together to really change the narrative of what our youth feel is possible,” Murray said.
Such ideas give a sense of the immense possibilities that the Barack Obama Presidential Library could bring to communities on the South Side and throughout the Chicago area, Sher said.
“We are committed to working in partnership with the city, our neighbors, and organizations large and small to make this a reality,” she said.
Public Questions and Comments about the Obama Library and U of C Bid
at the January 12, 2015 Jackson Park Advisory Council
Edited by Gary Ossewaarde
Questions were answered mostly by Derek Douglas, U of C President for Civic Engagement, some by Sonya Malunda, Senior Associate Vice President for Civic Engagement.
Two minutes were allowed for each question and each answer. Time was kept by JPAC treasurer Dwight Powell.
Nearly everyone who spoke prefaced that they would welcome the Library to the South Side, and several told what they believe and hope it will bring or mean to communities and the city .
Q. Could you use the U of C land outside Washington Park rather than the park?
A. We need to ensure there is enough room for a campus to ensure a strong bid.
Q. How much land is available owned by UC, the city and agencies west of Washington Park?
A. About 11 acres, of which 6 1/2 is owned by the University. How to assemble it is an issue, especially since some is spoken for. A major objective is to not displace.
C. The Washington Park Conservancy supports the Obama Library on Chicago's south side, but NOT in the park. (The suggested site for the Library in Washington Park is the site of the Washington Park Arboretum, the largest arboretum in Chicago.)
C. Use the land west of King including going over roads and Green Line and nearby to north.
A. The former Robert Taylor Homes land is spoken for, including for XT Tennis.
Q. What are the organizations by the Washington Park site that support this? I don't know anyone who wants to give up our parks.
A. Washington Park Advisory Council, KLEO, DuSable Museum, Museum Campus South, businesses- a total of 89 letters.
Also, there are several sites the Foundation would not accept. Accessibility is another point the Foundation insists upon. We would enhance the park.
C. The King Dr. site is ideal. The bar should be high for taking parkland for institutions-- this fits the bar. And it is Obama. And lots of museums and other facilities are in parks. Such opportunities are the only way to get resources for parks.
C. The letters you cite are for the Library, but how many of those sending knew that, support it will be in a park? Some organizations have moved to rescind or revise their letters since they found out.
C. We need to think creatively to renew our parks and communities. This has many possibilities. It will require lots of talking.
Q. Will this be done to bring real resources to communities rather than gentrify? Cited a conspiracy to clear certain populations out of the South Side.
A. Columbia is using land that displaced and was contentious; we are not. We are intentional from the start to redevelop with affordable options-- there's so much vacant land. Cited Mattie Butler of WECAN that displacement won't happen. This is not UC driven and the city has control of lots of empty land and will set the rules. We will plan and collaborate together. The Library will be transformative.
Q. Parks are an irreplaceable resource for people that can never be reassembled- once gone, it's gone for good. (Applause). Find a spot not in parks. Organizations like JPAC should carry out their responsibility and stop frittering away our parks (drew a repost from the president of JPAC).
A. We will improve the park and return more than is lost. The Library is not cannibalizing. And it's not UC, we are just providing options.
Q. Can we not revisit Lakeside or Michael Reese, where thee wil not be park loss or displacement?
A. Not our choice.
Q. How much good will just a new building do? We need something spectacular to turn communities around.
A. We will not abandon communities- will partner to do a lot of other things.
Q. We are still hurt by how land west of Washington Park was acquired. What is your plan for it?
A. For future growth. Ald. Powell made it plain we can't just landbank it. We've been building, such as Incubator. Lots of charettes have been going on.
C. Displacing trees is not better than displacing people. Parks aren't land banks either.
Cassandra Francis, president of Friends of the Parks, was invited at this point to read a prepared statement (pre-ask). They are thrilled about the Library and against building in parks and especially in heritage parks intentionally designed and irreplaceable. The acres west of the Washington Park would be ideal, as would the UIC bid and the deign should be "urban". 25 acres is too much in any case. It's the University's responsibility to listen, Chicago's to decide.
A. Lots want it in the parks and our responsibility is to all voices. (Back and forth: Does the Foundation understand? The parks are brides. The Library will bridge communities, and the University is going to take all the input back to the Foundation.
C. (disagreement about the stance of a community organization).
Q. Who in the Foundation represents the communities>
A. Marty Nesbitt, who has all the letters and input and has a Facebook page on the Library. They also talk a lot with the Obamas.
Q. Will a Library bring an increase in policing, maybe also harassing our youth? While the University does not have a trauma center for the community or the President.
A. Disputed the implications-- we all swim or sink together in shared interest. The University is doing much for South Side healthcare.
C. The library is important and huge including to the future of kids and would be a major asset in one of the parks; the problems would be worked out.
JPAC president Louise McCurry made closing statement, thankful for the many voices that have come to be heard.
Some local organization positions re Jackson Park.
Jackson Park Advisory Council board. JPAC welcomes an Obama Presidential Library on the South Side of Chicago.
Hyde Park Historical Society. The Hyde Park Historical Society strongly supports siting the Obama Presidential Library on Chicago's Southside. Our respect for President Obama is immeasurable and his legacy is beyond doubt. However, building the library on our public parklands in Washington or Jackson Park would seriously compromise either of Chicago's, and the nation's, most important historic parks. These two great Southside parks must be preserved for future generations.
Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference. The Conference strongly supports the Obama Presidential Library on the South Side of Chicago but was not able to reach a conclusion about siting or conditions of the University of Chicago Bid.
South East Chicago Commission enthusiastically supports the Library. (not having seen the resolution this writer is unclear at present as to what else it says.)
KEY PROVISIONS IN THE DRAFT ORDINANCE authorizing intergovernmental agreement transferring PD land to the City for $1.
pp. 3 and 4. Defines the sites to be approx. 20 acres (they are more precisely described in the exhibits and the draft IGA (intergovernmental agreement) but "it is expected that the Foundation would devote approximately five (5) acres of the selected site to the Presidential Center, and the remaining land would remain landscaped open space..."
"Whereas it is unknown" which site will be preferred "or a portion thereof" the site selection expected during the fall or winter 2015.
The City wishes to acquire...the Park District wishes to convey.... in exchange for the loss of green space"... the deed for the selected site will have a reversionary clause, providing that the selected site will revert to the Park District if it is not used as part of the Presidential Center."
"The Mayor is committed to assembling a group of leaders from open space and community groups to identify nearby land that can be converted to green space to replace the green space lost to teh construction of the Presidential Center and to look for opportunities to reinvest in and restore Olmsted parks."
"There will be a separate ordinance authorizing development, construction, and operation of the Presidential Center." A "long-term ground lease" will be drawn up with Foundation, which in turn will have an agreement and sublease with the NARA (National Archives).
Citations of authority: Article VII, Section 10 of the 1970 Illinois State Constitution-- authorizes "local governing bodies sot cooperate in teh performance of their responsibilities by contracts and other agreements."
Intergovernment Cooperation Act, 5 ILCS 220/1 et seq.: "authorizes public agencies, including units of local government and school districts, to contract with one another to perform any government service, activity, or undertaking."
Local Government Property Transfer Act, 50 ILCS 605/0.01 et seq. authorizes "municipalities to convey, grant, or transfer real estate held by the municipality to any other municipality upon the agreement of the appropriate authorities..."
BE IT ORDAINED: Section 3 provides the city will acquire the site for $1. The Department of Planning and Development will secure , convey, negotiate. All contrary ordinances et al are repealed as respects this matter.
The acquisition will be by quitclaim deed complete and final except for the reversionary clause.
The park district is to continue to maintain until construction starts but will not make major changes.
The sites and center are subject to all environmental laws and regulations.
No third party is to have any benefit or right from the agreement.
deleted as untimely
Obama Foundation selects Presidential Center Architects.
By Gary Ossewaarde
June 30, 2016, The Obama Presidential Foundation selected as design principal for the Library nationally-renowned and South Side Chicago experienced Tod Williams/Billie Tsien Architects, teamed up with South Sider-owned Interactive Design Associates. The selection is a bold statement by the President for inclusion and recognition of female and minority talent—Billie Tsien is an Asian-American female. Interactive’s Dina Griffin is an African-American female who has strong ties and engagement to the South Side and Hyde Park and a Kenwood Academy graduate and is well known to some of JPAC’s members. Her firm participated in design of the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Eckhardt Center at the University of Chicago and is a certified female and minority firm. Williams/Tsien designed the Logan Center for the Arts on the University of Chicago Campus, and that building and its use of spaces, and the team’s local experience (which included focus groups) are said to have impressed the Obamas, who were also impressed, according to the Foundation, with Williams/Tsien’s respect for the Olmsted and Vaux park designs, for Chicago’s architectural legacy, for the history and potential of the neighboring communities, and for design that is “thoughtful, dignified, beautiful, and understated.”
There was no indication that the site would be anywhere other than in Jackson or Washington Park, although additional land across from Washington Park has been offered. The design task for the designated spaces (about 5 acres of buildings in about 20 leased acres of the chosen park) appears to be daunting and complex. The Center will include the Library and Archives proper, a strongly interactive and immersive open Museum, programmatic space, an Institute of Civic Engagement, foundation offices, dining, likely a garden, and a presidential suite—not to mention parking and other accommodations for visitors. It has to be secured, but also serve intentionally as an active and visible center for the neighborhoods, helping driving their revitalization. Exactly how will the complex be secure, and welcoming, and work respectfully with (while inevitably bringing change to) both the hosting park and the neighboring community? How are voices for park and community brought into play? The advisory council of the selected park will be one of several civic and community bodies that will weigh in on these matters. No exact timetable for site selection was given in the press release—it will be “very soon” or “before the end of the year.” The architectural team will have a major role in selection of the site, hopefully bringing to bear their South Side experience and involvement.
The Foundation has been asking for ideas of what citizenship is and how the Center can promote it.
David Simas, Foundation CEO, sent on February 24, 2017 the following :
In his Farewell Address as President, Barack Obama made this request of us: "I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to make change, but in yours."
This faith in each of our capacity to make a difference in our world has been the guiding principle of President and Mrs. Obama's two decades in public service. And this same belief is the North Star of the Obama Foundation.
That's exactly why we have asked you to add your voice, to tell us what good citizenship means to you and what you want this Foundation to be.
We asked, and you answered.
"Being a great citizen is about showing up, standing up, and speaking up when change needs to happen. "
We've received hundreds of thousands of your ideas, photos, stories of citizenship, and suggestions for working together on building this Foundation. And we want you to keep them coming,
Emerging themes: You talked about the importance of information and education to healthy citizenship. Thousands of your submissions emphasized the importance of staying informed on issues, both local and global, affecting your world. Many of you explored the roles of both traditional and social media in democracy.
We heard hope and fear in the face of a complex world. Many submissions focused on attitudes that inform good citizenship: hope, optimism, pragmatism? — ?and how to manage and channel worries and fears in a complicated and changing world.
You expressed an understanding that citizenship is bigger than any one person. Another consistent theme in your submissions was the importance of looking beyond your own interests to support those in need. You told us how you respect those who approach our country's problems with an attitude that we're all in this together.
Gary, this is just the beginning. We'll be asking a new question every week and encourage you to keep coming back to share your ideas. Your submissions will continue to inform how we focus our efforts:
CEO, Obama Foundation
At its February 13 2017 meeting, JPAC voted to set up a committee to review and seek coordination among the construction projects and proposal in light of the whole park, inviting stakeholders, proposers/planners, and the overseeing governmental bodies to participate. The question of larger planning will probably be addressed by Alderman Hairston's newly appointed Advisory Council.
Herald article on CBA March 17, 2017.
By CHRISTOPHER AMATI
Representatives of three south side community organizations that work in communities surrounding the future home of the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) in Jackson Park came together at Island Terrace Apartments, 6430 S. Stony Island Ave., Thursday morning, March 16, to denounce the formation of a new organization that they said excludes them from being a part of efforts to have community input in the building of the Obama Presidential Center in favor of well-connected operatives promoted by special interests and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
About 40 people were in attendance at the meeting, which was held in the first floor social room of the apartment building. During the meeting, several speakers described what they see as an attempt to leave them out of any plans for the redevelopment of the neighborhood in the wake of the building of the Obama Presidential Center.
Representatives from Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP), Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) and Prayer and Action Collective (PAC) spoke against what they see as outsiders and politically connected local power brokers working with the current city administration to exclude real voices from their community.
“It’s a shame, there is no need to create an organization to try to undermine the community,” Jeanette Taylor said.
She said community residents have been meeting two or three times a week since last summer but were not informed about the Next Street organization, which recently gave a presentation at the 5th Ward meeting at the South Shore Cultural Center and will present again at the upcoming 8th Annual Woodlawn Community Summit on Saturday, March 18.
During the 5th Ward meeting on March 9, representatives from Next Street, an organizational consulting firm, gave a presentation outlining a proposal for a new, yet to be named organization that would “drive and manage the growth” seen as coming to the neighborhoods of South Shore, Woodlawn and Washington Park in the wake of the construction of the Obama Presidential Center (OPC).
During the March 9, presentation Next Street representative Charisse C. Johnson said the new organization is envisioned as a way to “encourage growth on the south side” and “tap into the urgency and the energy of these times.
Investment and involvement in the community, an assessment of each neighborhood’s strengths and needs and “growth without displacement” were some of the ideas and concepts mentioned at the March 9, meeting.
“It’s a shame that the Obama foundation would not do its job and seek out the community group that has been working in the community and who has a real community based process,” Taylor said. “Instead they choose to put together the usual suspects who like to be the face of their false community involvement. It excludes voices that disagree.”
Taylor named Rev. Byron Brazier and Torrey Barrett of K.L.E.O Community family Life Center as two of the individuals who are pretending to represent the community without actually doing so.
“These people need to wake up,” she said of the Obama Foundation. “They are not getting our input. We do not need a CBA that doesn’t help the young black and brown people of the community we need a CBA that will properly respond to the needs to the community that will be impacted.”
William Thomas, a student and the University of Chicago and a member of the Prayer and Action Collective, said the university should help make sure the CBA has true community involvement.
“The University of Chicago has a history of supporting development projects that have pushed a lot of people out of the neighborhood, especially black people,” Thomas said. “It has a responsibility to support its neighbors by signing a legally binding agreement. ”
Michele Williams added some historical perspective, saying she had seen black people moved from their homes and seen the promises made to them broken time and time again in her 75 years as a Chicagoan.
“We have been removed from neighborhoods over and over,” Williams said. “They tell us ‘you can come back.’” I don’t care who lives here, I just don’t want to move.”
Williams said the foundation has “come to us as a community. We want you to include us, not exclude us.”
Williams also complained about the lack of involvement from the Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th).
She has meetings but what about the people who can’t get out?” Williams said.
Williams expressed her love for former President Barack Obama but made a distinction between the man and his Presidential Center.
“When it’s built, who’s going to be running it?” Williams asked. “The little people do care about you but we just don’t want to go out of our neighborhood.”