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2016 Olympic proposals and Jackson Park, Chicago Illinois

Presented by Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, its Parks Committee, and its website hydepark.org and by Jackson Park Advisory Council.
By Gary Ossewaarde

This page describes Olympic proposed hockey venue for Jackson Park, reactions of the Advisory Council, modified request in 2008, and location changes made at the end of 2008 (incompletely delineated). General Fifth Ward committees on benefits are in the Olympics homepage.

Meetings

July 28, Tuesday, 6 pm. 5th Ward monthly meeting will have a Olympic presentation and discussion. Chicago Booth, 5807 S. Woodlawn. 773 324-5555.

 

Jackson Park Council positions

Jackson Park Council was not consulted before either the initial decision or the details announced in January 2007 (which included Hockey field placement, in the soccer area between Hayes Drive and the Lagoons/Bob o link Meadow/ Golf Driving Range. JPAC members at first felt bowled over by the proposal, President Ross Petersen saying he was disappointed and (Herald, Jan. 31 2007) "We don't think that that's going to be a good spot. The site is not particularly accessible. It's very close to sensitive natural areas and it's going to displace a lot of people who use the field for soccer," Petersen said. Petersen said during the summer, high school students, college players and members of the American Youth Soccer Organization use the soccer field on a daily basis.

After discussions, in July 2007 JPAC passed its first resolution: 2007. In September 2016 made a presentation. Subsequently JPAC sent a letter to 2016 and Ald. Hairston outlining JPAC members' concerns.

July 9 2007 Jackson Park Advisory Council passed a resolution of opposition to venues in that park:

"The Jackson Park Advisory Council opposes as ill-advised and inappropriate the siting of Olympic venues in Jackson Park."

Presentation and query. A largely-attended JPAC meeting with the Olympic Committee September 10 2007 saw a serious engagement of question and answers and what might or might not work. JPAC passed no new resolutions and will continue to study and engage. Coverage ahead of the Sept. 10 meeting.

Before the meeting: Will JPAC buy it? Olympic liaison to make the case for games in Jackson Park

Hyde Park Herald, September 4, 2007. By Georgia Geis

Gyata Kimmons, community liaison for the organization trying to win the Olympic bid, Chicago 2016, will plead a case for the benefits of hosting the Olympic Games in Jackson Park at the Jackson Park Advisory Council (JPAC) meeting next Monday. Kimmons will be responding to JPAC's official stand against using the park for a field hockey venue.

"This will be a very difficult sell," said JPAC member Fran Vandervoort "We certainly do want to meet with people."

A couple months after winning the US bid, Chicago 2016 hired Kimmons to field concerns and gain input from residents. "We hired Gyata to outreach to our communities and make this a part of our bid process on the international level," said Patrick Sandusky . Sandusky, who worked to win the bid for 2014 [sic] Olympic Games in London, said that the London committee did not hire a community liaison until they were a year further into the process than Chicago 2016 is now.

Kimmons said he is prepared to hear all kinds of criticisms and concerns about Chicago hosting the Olympics. "I'm taking all the criticisms, all the issues, all the concerns--anything anyone has to say."

JPAC members feel that the Olympics will cause too much disruption to the 136-year-old park by being closed before, during and after the games. Another concern is replacing the existing grass field with astro-turf which they think could cause accidents. In response to the astro-turf complaints, Kimmons said the current technology for astro-turf eliminates the concerns about "rug burns" and other injuries.

Kimmons, however, acknowledged other impacts the Olympics could have on the park. "There are huge environmental concerns... We want to hear exactly what those concerns are," said Kimmons. "Because it is not always the situation that we are going to do what we are going to do and not really care what people think." Vandervoort said she is skeptical of how much change residents can have when it comes to the Olympic plans. "How effective can our small community group be? If the city wants it, the city gets its way," said Vandervoort. Kimmons said community discussions can make a difference in the planning of the event. He cited an example when the Olympic committee in Vancouver, Canada changed plans based on what the residents thought.

Chicago native Kimmons is no stranger to debating. He received his law degree from Howard University and most recently worked on legislative issues for the Chicago Public Schools.. Kimmons said that it was the young people who drew him to working with the Olympic committee. Kimmons said he knows the impact exposure to Olympic sports can have on children... "It's really about these kinds," said Kimmons. "The average age for an Olympian who would be competing in 2016 is 12 years. old. Education and the youth movement is a very strong piece for the Chicago 2016."

Regardless of what issues are brought up in regards to the 2016 Olympics Games, Kimmons said people must keep in mind that Chicago has not won the international bid yet and 2016 is far away. "We are still trying to get the bid, so nothing is in concrete," said Kimmons. "We have poured no concrete. We have dug no dirt."

The Jackson Park Advisory Council meets Sept. 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the Jackson Park Field House. Kimmons will be attending the meting. For more information, call 947-9541. To contact Kimmons, email him gkimmons@chicago2016.org. Top

From the October JPAC Newsletter- Minutes of the September 10 2007 meeting.

Olympic and Paralympic presentation. Valerie Jarrett, Gyata Kimmons, Doug Arnot of Chicago2016 and Arnold Randall, Chicago Commissioner of Planning and Development. Also John Hillman, Mark Jones, Tony Romano; Alonzo Williams CPD.

Jarrett said there would be impact locally, but this is an opportunity to leave improvements and legacy with minimum disruption, if planned carefully and prudently. She said the Committee wants and needs continuing engagement in an open, fair, collaborative process. She noted that changes have already been made. A strong bid needs consensus. Concept drawings and a video on the citywide suite of venues were shown.

Arnot, who has worked on design at other Olympics, said they are working hard to avoid mistakes, including to the environment, or leaving white elephants. The park is to be returned to its condition and uses, with some compatible improvements (not asphalt but possibly including security features). Structures, lighting, stands will be temporary (although security features could remain) and will not go below ground. The two artificial surface fields and third, grass will be legacies. All facilities must be fully accessible to persons with disabilities, one of the reasons for artificial surface fields. Arnot said the latter would also allow maximum use afterwards since grass fields are and would be quickly degraded. Arnot gave the timeframe as a few months of phased work in late 2015 and again in 2016.

Questions and challenges.
· Parks, field team experts were asked experience with artificial turf playing fields. Offers advantages.
· What will be off limits or have impractical access? Hayes Drive, golf driving range, soccer fields, Hayes lots incl. for basketball there. Not Bob-o-link, Wooded Island, Golf course, Lake Shore Drive.
· Impacts on natural areas. Petersen showed what structures and activity might be too close to lagoons and the ADA boardwalk and where crowds, short-cutters, support vehicles, lighting might disturb birds and wildlife.
· Will infrastructure like sewers be affected; could improvements be made? Team: generally no to both. And any wider kinds of improvements like playlots, transit cannot come from Olympic program, funds.
· How will the athletes, people be moved? Shuttle buses; no autos (re-educate off autos). Plan will take time.
· Several feared congestion in neighborhoods, effects on mobility, harbors, golf et al.
· Will alternative places be offered teams, users? Past help in previous displacements can be a model. Sports team reps stressed management and success at such accommodation as critical.
· Several asked if more substantial legacies could be left: little result for lots of disruption. Also suggested for effect and congestion/conflict mitigation during the event was use of portable bridges for access, shiny steel. Team would consider but is cautious about redirecting the park or leaving white elephants.
· An archeologist said the law requires a full reconnaissance ahead of work; site was Columbian Expos.
· The short timeframe was generally challenged
. Team cited Olympic, other experience, no work underground.
· Will there be an extensive set of public input meetings and charette? Yes. The presenters asked for input to help develop consensus on landscaping, behaviors, traffic, being green. An “Olmstedist” is on the design team. Full detail design starts in late 2009—that is the best window for input.

The Olympic Committee was thanked for discussing and answering and were urged to return often. Members reviewed concerns and alternatives. Concern was expressed about the park’s current state and needs, including major facilities, that may not be adequately addressed because the energy and funds will go to the Olympics. Petersen summarized consensus: Continue to learn and evaluate, Compile member questions at the next meeting. Adjournment.

Respectfully submitted, Gary M. Ossewaarde, Secretary

 

Progress made between JPAC, Olympics Committee

Hyde Park Herald, September 19, 2007. By Georgia Geis

A line of communication between the Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee and the Jackson Park Advisory Council (JPAC) was opened last week at a well-attended Sept. 10 council meeting. Gyata Kimmons, Chicago 2016 community liaison, addressed residents' questions about the plans to use Jackson Park as a field hockey venue in the proposed 2016.

"There seems to be an openness for further discussions with the Olympic Committee," said JPAC Vice President Ross Petersen. Kimmons said he was encouraged to see so many park users at the meeting asking questions. "These are people who actually use the park," said Kimmons. "The audience really wanted to know about our proposals."

Valerie Jarrett and Arnold Randall from the Olympic Committee joined with Kimmons to present the Olympic and Paralympic plan for Jackson Park. They provided color posters of what they expect the sites to look like. They outlined the specifics about two new astro-turf fields that would be added. [note: these would replace 2 of 3 current grass fields and would be an advanced artificial surface, not "Astroturf".]

Petersen said that the soccer players in attendance saw potential in the new fields that will cost more than half a million each to complete. Petersen, who said he was optimistic about the open communication with Chicago 2016, said there were still many concerns and an enormous amount of skepticism about using the park as a site. "This is all uncomfortably close to a nature area," said Petersen....

 

Coverage, Hyde Park Herald, July 18, 2007. By Georgia Geis

Jackson Park Advisory Council (JPAC) members are fed up* with the lack of information they have received from the Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee about the proposed field hockey venue at Jackson Park and have officially taken a stand against such a proposal. Repeated calls by the Herald to reach Gyata Kimmons, the newly appointed community liaison for the Olympic committee, went unanswered during presstime.

On July 12, the Jackson Park Advisory Council (JPAC) issued an official statement opposing the use of the park in the proposed 2016 Olympics.

"The Jackson Park Advisory Council opposes as ill-advised and inappropriate the siting of Olympic venues in Jackson Park," JPAC secretary Gary Ossewaarde told the Herald.

The concerns JPAC discussed at its last meeting include heavily used parts of the park that would be closed for up to three years, the ecological damage to trees and other plants in the park and the replacing of turf grass with artificial astro-turf. The Herald was unable to confirm the planned time table or any other details with Kimmons and the Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee.

The lack of information and dialogue fueled the stand against the field hockey site. "We have invited the committee on several occasions to speak at our meetings," said JPAC vice president Ross Petersen.

The Chicago 2016 Olympic committee has appointed Gyata Kimmons as a community liaison but according to Petersen, it is "a little too little and a little too late."

Unlike the Washington Park Advisory Council, however, which has accepted the proposal to have the 80,000 seat temporary stadium in Washington Park if certain points are met, JPAC is strongly opposed to the Olympics in Jackson Park.

"Our position is we don't want it," Ossewaarde said. "This is not a negotiation."

Some longtime residents of Hyde Park fear that Jackson Park would be overwhelmed by such a large event. "It is a misuse of parkland in an urban area," said Hyde Park resident and real estate agent Winston Kennedy. "These parks were not made for these international events."

Ray Kuby first came to Hyde Park in the 1950s for law school. Kuby, who visits Jackson Park often, feels that the Chicago Park District has done a good job in the last ten years upgrading and tending to the park. He sites the Japanese Garden and the track field as examples.

"It may be for selfish reasons, but I like the parks the way they are," said Kuby. "Why don't they do a survey of the people living here?"

Jane Ciacci would like to find out more information about the Olympic proposal. "I'm waiting to see what happens," said Ciacci. I'm not developing an opinion yet."

Others see hosting the Olympics in Hyde Park as a good thing. "It would be a great boost for Chicago. It will bring a lot of jobs," Daisy Mitchell, who has lived in Hyde Park for 54 years, said. She laughs and adds that she will not be participating, though.

In the end, some like Hyde Park resident of 35 years, Fran VanderVoort feel this is a political issue. "Toni [Preckwinkle], Leslie [Hairston], and the University are behind it, they see it as jobs," said VanderVoort.

Vandervoort has a long history with Jackson Park. As a teacher, she would take her Kenwood Academy biology classes in the 1980s and 1990s to Jackson Park to explore the various pants an animals. She feels the long term ecological damage would outweigh any short term benefits.

In 1869 the famous landscape architects who designed New York's Central Park created park area encompassing what is now Jackson Park. Originally called Lake Park, Jackson Park was renamed in 1880 to honor the seventh President Andrew Jackson (1767-1845). Jackson Park was selected as the site for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.

*"Disappointed and dismayed" might be a better description, according to Gary Ossewaarde, JPAC Secretary.


Herald, July 25, 2007.
By Georgia Geis

The Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee wants Hyde Parkers' input but said it is too early to say whether anything is negotiable, an official told the herald last week. "I can't necessarily say that things are up for debate," said Patrick Sandusky, spokesperson for the Olympic committee, on a call from Rio de Janeiro, where the committee was scoping out their competition for winning the 2016 bid.

Sandusky said the committee would like to meet with Hyde Park residents and specifically the Jackson Park Advisory Council (JPAC). "There are a lot of stake holders and we would like a dialogue with everyone," said Sandusky.

JPAC vice president Ross petersen said he would welcome the Committee to make a presentation at an upcoming meeting but is skeptical about any results. He said he has only heard "pieces of information" in regards to plans for Jackson Park. "It is the city's job to candy coat and sell [the Olympic proposal] to us," Petersen said.

Among concerns voiced by JPAC are installation of astroturf in the park, the environmental impact of using the park as an international sports venue and the length of time the park will be out of commission, which they estimate will be years.

Sandusky denied JPAC's claim that parts of Jackson Park would be closed for as long as three years. Sandusky's estimate for closure is six months. Peterson thinks that it is unrealistic to think that major parts of the park will only be closed for six months. He estimates that the park will need to be worked on the year before the event, out of commission for 2016 and that it will take a year to restore the park afterward.

Sandusky urges Hyde Parkers to take the long view about the proposed Olympic venue. "This going to be a long process, we still have 27 months until we know if we win the bid an almost 10 years before the event, said Sandusky. "Plans are still being shaped with the community."

Members of JPAC, which formed in 1983 to protect and preserve the 570-acre-park, were taken by surprise last year when the city announced Jackson Park was a proposed site for the 2016 Olympics.

Since that time JPAC maintains they have not received adequate information about the park's use in the Olympics. Last week JPAC released an official statement against the use of the park for the Olympics.


Reader Article October 4 2007, A Promise Made to be Broken. Could a 20,000-seat Olympic field hockey arena really leave Jackson Park unspoiled?

By Ben Joravsky

A couple weeks ago Mayor Daley took his Olympics dog-and-pony show to the Walt Disney Magnet School on the north side, far from the south-side neighborhood parks that will be overtaken if his plans for the 2016 games go through. As PR spectacles go, it was pretty impressive. The stage was filled with Olympic stars. The auditorium was packed with kids hoped-up to be out of class and eager to cheer on cue for the TV cameras.

The event's ostensible purpose was to unveil the city's new Olympic logo. But its larger goal was to send the message that Chicagoans, like Disney's giddy students, are jazzed up about bringing the games to town.

Of course, the public's attitude towards the games is a lot more complicated. If you walk through Washington Park on a Sunday afternoon and ask the softball and tennis players and joggers and sunbathers what they think about the games, you'll get a chorus of jeers. As they see it, just about the only thing the games will do is turn their park into a construction zone.

Over at Jackson Park, the proposed site of a 20,000-seat field hockey arena, opinion's a bit more split, as some opponents try to figure out how to deal with an all-powerful mayor with a short temper and a long memory.

Stretching along the south lakefront, with Stony Island to the west, the Museum of Science and Industry to the north, and 67th Street to the south, Jackson Park, site of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, is one of the city's most storied natural splendors. Designed by the 19th-century landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, it contains more than 600 acres of open land, including an oak savanna, a Japanese garden, and a wooded island in the middle of one of its two lagoons. To cross the bridge and walk through the island is to leave the city--you can't even hear the traffic from Lake Shore Drive.

The open field just west of the drive is used by dozens of youth soccer teams and some local high schools asa practice football field. It sits next to a driving range popular with local golfers, many of whom are biding their time before teeing off at the park's 18-hole course.

True, the playing fields could use some fixing up, though they're not as bad as some of the moonscapes that pass for soccer fields in other Chicago parks. But overall, Jackson Park's one of the few Park District benefits south-siders get for paying taxes, and if the city's not going to make necessary improvements, everyone would probably be better off it were left alone.

But Daley got it in his head that Chicago had to have the Olympics in 2016. And his planners assured him that the best way to win the nod from the international Olympic Committee over competing cities like Rio de Janeiro and Madrid was to keep all the venues relatively close together and put them on public land so the city wouldn't have to deal with the headache of taking over property through eminent domain. Realizing that there would be holy hell to pay if he tried to plow over Grant Park or Lincoln Park, Daley earmarked the south side, dressing it up as a gift to the community.

In the case of Jackson Park, residents aren't sure it's a gift they really want. How can the city bring in so many spectators without paving over parkland for parking? How can they build and tear down a 20,000-seat arena without closing down the park for at least a couple of years? And what about fencing off and tearing up valuable parkland--scaring birds, trampling grass, disrupting tranquility, and evicting soccer and football players--just to host a three-week party? What does Jackson Park get out of the deal?

Not enough, the Jackson Park Advisory Council concluded. In August it passed a resolution opposing the games. "We said the plans were ill conceived and we didn't support them," says Ross Petersen, vice president of the council. (The former president, Nancy Hays, died in May.)

The council's opposition drew the attention of the city's Olympic committee, Chicago 2016, which depends on th enthusiasm of the city's residents. If it comes out that a significant number of south-side residents oppose the games, the IOC would be less inclined to give Chicago the nod. Given all the logistical and financial problems of staging an Olympics, the last thing any candidate city needs is local opposition.

So the Olympic committee did what they hadn't done before: they reached out to the advisory group and asked for an opportunity to make their case. On September 10 they brought in some of their heavy hitters, like former planning department commissioner Valerie Jarrett and new planning department commissioner Arnold Randall. And they assured about 50 residents that there would be no long-term damage to the oak savanna or the island or the Japanese garden. There would be no parking lots built--spectators, players, reporters, and coaches would be brought in for the games by bus. From start to finish, construction would last no more than ten months--the temporary stadium would be moved from the park as soon as the games were over. Other south-side park sites would be found for the soccer and football players who lost their field And as a lasting legacy, the park would gain two synthetic-turf fields.

Now the advisory council has to decide whether to trust the city to make good on these promises. Not that they have much choice: if Chicago gets the nod it will be virtually impossible to stop it from doing whatever it wants. But given the city's track record when it comes to large public projects, it's exceedingly unlikely that the stadium will be built and dismantled in a timely fashion without cost overruns. The financing of the games is already iffy. Who knows if there'll be any money remaining to restore the parks once the games are over?

On the other hand, the community could use a couple of nice new playing fields--even if they're a decade off. "I spend a week in the new season filling in holes on that field. This will leave us with field that is not so dangerous to our children," says Louise Mc[C]urry, another member of the Jackson Park Advisory Council. "I feel it's going to be a very good thing. It would be a nice thing for children to play on a field where the Olympics were held."

McCurry says she trusts the city to fulfill its promises, noting that Randall, a Hyde Park resident, coaches a team that plays in a Jackson Park youth soccer league. "The head of the city's planning department is one of our coaches," says McCurry. "I think we'll be taken care of.

But can't the city just build two soccer fields--which will cost about $2 million--without the folly and expense of the Olympics? "I don't know the answer to that," McCurry says. "There are always pros and cons to anything. It would be inconvenient for a year but we can work around it."

Still, the majority of the advisory council remains unwilling to endorse the plan, though members are guarded. The last thing they want to do is antagonize Daley, who in the recent flap over moving the Chicago Children's Museum to Grant Park showed that he gets mighty angry when locals oppose his plans. "We have opened a dialogue and that's an important first step," says Petersen.

Some council members tell me they hope the IOC will do the dirty work for them. If the OIC awards the games to some other city, then Jackson Park's users will get the best of both worlds. They won't have to deal with the Olympics, and Daley will have someone else to blame.

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__________________________________________

On November 3, 2008 JPAC sent the following letter to 2016 at advice of 5th Ward Office asking placement away from the lagoons and natural areas and no widened permanent roadways in the lagoon area including to the Golf Driving Range. We were previously led to believe JPAC concerns were heard and placement is not set, and may be at considerable distance in the park.

November 3, 2008

Gyata Kimmons, Community Liaison and
Chicago 2016 Committee
200 E. Randolph Dr. Ste. 2016
Chicago, Illinois 60601

Dear Mr. Kimmons:

Per request of Alderman Hairston’s (5th) Office, Jackson Park Advisory Council submits to you our request that Olympic Venues proposed for Jackson Park, if to be located north of Hayes Drive (soccer area) be placed at sufficient distance from the lagoons and natural areas to (1) ensure their protection and health and (2) make unnecessary widened and permanent roadways in these areas, in particular to the Golf Driving Range.

Communications and answers regarding this matter should be addressed to Ross Petersen, 1508 N. Spaulding, Chicago, IL 60751, 773 486-0505 or emailed c/o garyossewaarde@yahoo.com.

Cordially yours,

/s/ Ross Petersen
President, Jackson Park Advisory Council

CC Ald. Leslie A. Hairston, Rosalind Moore

RP:go

The response of Mr. Kimmons was that JPAC's concerns would be taken into account. In mid December 2008 2016 announced its final revisions before the final bid. For Jackson, the Olympics were moved near Hyde Park Academy. JPAC's response and request for a presentation follow the coverage of overall changes to the plan. Top


Further clarification July 2009

Mr. Arnold Randall, 2016 Legacies, and
Mr. Gyata Kimmons, Communities
Chicago 2016
200 E. Randolph St., Ste. 2016
Chicago, IL 60601

Dear Arnold:

JPAC asks clarification, if available, regarding the future of the running track at the proposed field hockey venue in Jackson Park.

As you recall, the artificial surface track was installed a few years ago with tremendous support from the NFL, other sponsors, 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston, JPAC, local high schools, and local residents and organizations, and is in very active use today. In fact, it will be undergoing repairs this
summer.

Given the track’s history and active usage as a Jackson Park, schools and neighborhood asset, JPAC asks that the track be retained or fully restored as part of the legacy in the park. Considering the cost and environmental issues that would be raised by its removal, could it possibly be covered so as not to be damaged by trucks or cranes, and possibly the covered space be used for support services or stands for the hockey so that the track’s use could be restored after the Olympics, at considerably less cost than building it anew? Could the two hockey fields be so configured that there would be room for the track regardless of whether 2, 1 or no artificial surface fields are left?

To reiterate, it is important to JPAC that the track remain in use until time to construct the Olympic venue and that the track or equivalent track be ready for use as soon after the Olympics as possible.


Cordially,


Gary M. Ossewaarde,
JPAC Secretary


Cc: Ald. Leslie A. Hairston

Reply:
Gary:
Thank you for your correspondence regarding the running track in Jackson Park. We recognize the value of the track to the community and fully intend to preserve or restore the track after the 2016 Olympic Games should we be fortunate enough to win the rights to host them. Our overall plan for parks hosting venues is that we leave the parks in as good or better condition than we found them. What people ultimately want to see left behind in these park spaces will be part of ongoing discussions. Our goal is also to leave behind a lasting legacy in each of these locations. That could be a number of things including new artificial turf fields and a renovated track.
We appreciate your position which is clearly stated in your letter and will make sure those points are part of the ongoing legacy discussion. Thank you.

 

Changes to Olympics plan to have big park impact. Washington Park to get aquatics complex. Hyde Park Herald, December 17, 2008. By Kate Hawley

Chicago 2016 officials announced Friday that Washington Park will be home to an aquatic sports complex as well as an 80,000-seat stadium for track and field events, should Chicago win its Olympic bid.

The new plan revealed Friday calls for major changes to Olympic venues citywide. Among them, a hockey field planned for Jackson Park would move from an area near the Wooded Island to a different site within the park, across from Hyde Park Career Academy High School, 6220 S. Stony Island Ave.

Sailing, once slated for a new harbor planned for 31st Street, will now take placed at Burnham Harbor, in a temporary facility that would be left as a youth sailing center following the games.

Only the basic parameters of the new venue plan were available Friday, and full details won't be available until the city submits its final bid package in February, according to a Chicago 2016 spokesman.

The aquatics complex would include a pool for swimming competitions, a diving well and water polo facility. A warm-up pool would become a permanent features of the park, while all the other pools would be temporary structures removed after the games.

This bare outline of a plan raised questions about the impact on historic Washington Park, said John Paul Jones of Friends of the Parks, an advocacy group. While he had no objection to the temporary swimming facilities, he feared that the permanent facility could prove disruptive to the Frederick Law Olmsted landscape.

Jones said the Southeast Side badly needs the new indoor swimming facility that would be part of the Olympic legacy. but he recommended building it outside the park's boundaries, for example in the nearby Washington Park community.

Ald. Willie Cochran, (20th), whose ward overlaps with Washington Park, agreed that its current outdoor pool needs an upgrade but said the community would have to vet such a decision. He was first briefed Friday on the aquatics center's move into the park. "Those changes were driven by the International Federation of Swimming," he said. "They wanted the facilities to be closer to the tack and field events."

Ross Petersen, president of the Jackson Park Advisory Council, said he was pleased that the hockey field would be moved away from the site near Wooded Island, due to the areas's heavy use by school sports teams and its proximity to sensitive wildlife. The council passed a resolution opposing the hockey field for these reasons, and registered the complaint with Olympics officials, he said. "I am cautiously optimistic that [the move] will soften the opposition to the Olympic venue coming into our park," he said. "But I need to hear more."

Where exactly the field would be located may be a sticking point, he said. A relatively little-used baseball diamond across the school would be a better location than a field with a football field and running track just to the north in his view.

Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th), who has overseen ongoing plans for the 31st Street Harbor, was not immediately available for comment Friday.
Top

JPAC response, request for presentation, December 2008.

Dear Mr. Kimmons:

Jackson Park Advisory Council has learned that the Jackson Park Olympic venue has been moved within the park. We had written of our concern about the former location in proximity with sensitive nature areas, and note with appreciation your response that these concerns would be taken into account.

JPAC hopes that your team will present and describe the final location to the advisory council as soon as a preliminary concept plan is available, perhaps at our February 9 (2nd Mondays) JPAC meeting, 7:30 pm at Jackson Park field house, 6401 S. Stony Island.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Top

July 2009 meetings. JPAC July 13, Rally July 15 at South Shore Cultural Center

From the JPAC July 13 minutes

Olympics. Guest Tom Tresser of No Games Chicago presented on past and prospective Olympics. (Chicago 2016 has held several presentations and open discussions at our meetings.) Among problems he saw are that Olympics draw funds from general upkeep, services, and improvements for parks and neighborhoods, that the Olympics and city, as with several other Olympics, could suffer revenue shortfall putting taxpayers at risk during a prolonged downturn, displacement of park users, threats to natural areas, illusory benefits, and abridgement of process and rights. He believes these are substantial enough that people should take a stand.

The council discussed what it should or can say about concerns over about the Olympics, especially outside Jackson Park. Summaries were distributed by the Secretary of past resolutions and correspondence and copies of press coverage of the July 2007 meeting, when JPAC opposed venues in Jackson Park. It was noted that venues were since removed from near sensitive nature areas and playing fields to a location across from Hyde Park Career Academy. The Secretary also shared correspondence and reply with 2016, viewing keeping or rebuilding the running track presently at the venue. The council took no actions, but the Secretary would take questions or proposed resolutions in written form at garyossewaarde@yahoo.com or via 773 947-9541. Members were encouraged to attend the many meetings being held for Olympic input.

Herald, July 22, 2009. By Sam Cholke, Kate Hawley

Olympics boosters plead their case. But will it be enough to convince Hyde Parkers, other South Siders?

Olympics discussions regained momentum last week in a flurry of meeting meant to reassure South Side residents that the city and Olympic planners are willing to listen to their input.

The Jackson Park Advisory Council's July 13 meeting was dominated by talk of the Olympics. And on July 18, Chicago 2016 officials led a discussion about legacy planning for Washington Park, which would be home to an Olympic stadium of track and field and an aquatics center if Chicago wins its bed to host the 2016 Summer Games. The largest gathering drew more than 200 residents from the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th wards to the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. Shoe Drive, on July 15. It was the first in a series of ward-based meetings organized by Chicago 2016.

South Shore Cultural Center.

After a brief presentation, Chicago 2016 Chairman Patrick Ryan and President Lori Healey answered questions for more than an hour. Many in teh crowd were distrustful of the city and business interests, which have backed the Olympic ... "Oprah and all those people who gave money do not speak for us," one woman said, referring to Chicago 2016's deep-pocketed donors. "I hope I'm not bursting your bubble, but you're not getting your Olympics."

Many expressed dismay that the plan for the Olympics was being pushed and funded by wealthy patrons from Chicago's business world who would not be accountable at the polls should the Games not bring in the jobs and economic develop[ment] promised by Chicago 2016. "Who on the committee is a politician ?" said another woman, eager to heap scorn on city's political class, which was repeatedly accused of being "corrupt" by the audience. ....

Washington Park

Reactions to the Olympic plans were more mixed Sunday at the Washington Park Refectory, 5531 S. [Russell) Drive. It was teh third in a series of meetings aimed at seeking community input on plans for Washington Park. Arnold Randall, director of neighborhood legacy for 2016, presented several proposals for what should be left in the prk after teh Games. The stadium would shrink to a 2,500- to 3,500-seat amphitheater located in teh southeastern corner of the park's meadow.

All of the pools would be dismantled except one, which would replace the existing pool at Dyett High School, located in the park's north end at 555 E. 51st St. The Illinois National Guard Armory would bd transformed into a community athletics facility. Talks are ongoing with the state of Illinois about transferring ownership of the armory to the Park District after the Games, Randall said. Somewhere in the park, Chicago 2016 would build a memorial to the Olympics, he added.

The roughly 50 people who attended the meeting, many of whom were Hyde Parkers, broke into small groups to debate these and other proposals. Most eagerly pored over the maps and information provided by Chicago 2016.

But Koublai K.M. Toure, who works with at-risk youth, and Billy Bean, who coaches sports in the park, protested loudly that youth sports that currently take place in the park would be put on hold for two years.

Others were unhappy that the Olympic plans will disrupt the historic park landscape designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. "We reject Washington Park as the location of the swimming ... and the Olympic stadium and encourage an alternate location," said Hyde Park resident Steven Flowers. Stephanie Franklin, the longtime head of the advisory council fro Nichols Park, agreed. "The majority of our table agreed with the idea that the Olympics should not be in Washington Park at all," she said.

Others were enthusiastic about the prospect of Olympic venues. "We are excited, and we encourage the Olympics coming to Washington Park in 2016," said Hanna Anderson, "Bring on the Games!"

Jackson Park

At the Jackson Park Advisory Council meeting at teh parks' field house, 6401 S. Stony Island Ave., members met with Tom Tresser of No Games Chicago, a group advocating against the Olympics. "You have to understand, when the Olympics come to your city, you lose your sovereignty," Tresser said.

The roughly a dozen people at the meeting sympathized with Tresser, but declined to act on his request for a statement from the council against the Olympics. Jackson park is the proposed location for a 10,000-seat venue for field hockey and Paralympic football.

"We've already taken a position on this," said Ross Petersen, president of the advisory council, holding up a Hyde Park Herald from J[uly] 2007 with the headline "JPAC says no to the Olympics." "I don't want to be teh guy who beats this issue so badly and with such impudence that I hurt this park," he said. "I don't think we need to do anything but be skeptical."

Petersen said he continued to have reservations about the city's bid, in part because the plan had not been revised in light of a worsening economic situation.

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Viewpoints

Kathie Newhouse feels the Olympics in Jackson Park will bring nothing but destruction. Herald, Aug. 19, 2009

It would behoove the Chicago Olympic Committee to select a site that needs development, such as the former U.S. Steel South Works, instead of Jackson Park where there is such strenuous opposition. Jackson Park is heavily used and needed by local residents. Above all, we have serious concern for any desecration, destruction or even subtle harm to Wooded Island, a wildlife sanctuary. We have always been very protective of this treasure. This is no place for a football field.

Rather than usurping and uprooting a beautiful neighborhood park, create a new park, which would be welcome. Development of a park at the former U.S. steel South Works would be an ideal and appropriate use of TIFs.

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