Point home. Point Latest (Recent series #11)
2005 Point Developments through June
July 13 Task Force Preservation and Access Plan text
2: Reports and text, views, links to view plans
3: City counter/compromise plan, reinstated January 04
4: September 10 public briefing and summary
5: Reports of the Mediator of the Working Group meetings and process disc/complaints
6: Reports and Appeals March-December 2003
7: Reports, Appeals, Press from Jan.-Feb. breakdown period, incl. Mediator's Statement
8: Point dispute-statements-coverage-Rossi letter late Feb./March 2004
9: The March 9 summit and costing tasks to lead to final working group report due April 15
10: Listing on the '10 Most Endangered' list; disputes over plans and 1994 Memorandum and defenses of the rival plans
11: Latest Promontory Point news
12: From the Mediator's Final Report May 2004
13: About, Reactions to the Mediator's Report
14: Reactions to the ad hoc group; during the period of its (non) meetings, June-August 2004, other actions including by Rep. Jackson, Il. Hist. Pres. Agency
15: Late 2004, including Mediator's Final Report with a 3rd option
16: 2005 through June [This page]
17: Mid 2005: Jackson Amendment, IHPA-CPD, HPKCC and other letters of appeal
18: August through the Sept. 15 2005 meeting, HPKCC and Sen. Obama positions
Evolution of the issue from mid-June, 2004 (another ad hoc committee formed)- into 2005
August 2004: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) now firmly had control of the issue as the state agency that, with the Federal Advisory Council, has to sign off on conformity of plans to historic standards- as specified in the 1993 Memorandum of Agreement that specified "match the existing in accord with the Department of Interior's Standards for Preservation" and when it wa generally assumed the rebuilding would be in limestone block step-stone. In August, IHPA was studying partial city plans, expecting more developed drawings. At year's end IHPA gave up getting such, which the city said was too expensive to prepare on speculation of approval. IHPA said it could make its ruling from information in hand.,
Late in the year games were still being played around how detailed drawings IHPA needed to see--and the Dept. of Environment was sending only 8x11 drawings! DOE finally sent the right sized drawings while IHPA backed off from requiring engineering beyond the 25 percent state. The city's enlarged drawings were said by IHPA staff to the same as before and offering disappointingly little detail. IHPA says there will be no final approval before final plans are seen. This sounds like a round-and-round, but there may be gradual give and take as IHPA asks changes in this or that. .
In December, 2005 the Task Force sent through a law firm a letter to the local Corps documenting failures of the Corps to follow the Memorandum of 1993 and public required public process, documenting misinformation as basis for Corps plans, and demanding an Environmental Impact Assessment because the plan had been completely changed. Mr. Johnson of the Corps answered in March, 2005 countering the previous letter's points.
Early in 2005, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. reinforced his intent to block funds next fall for any but a preservation approach based on the Memorandum and Secretary of Interior Standards. Mediator Kalven and Alderman Hairston strongly backed him; Hairston also wrote letters supporting and asking local legislators to support independence of the IHPA and its support of a preservation approach and herself backing a preservation, non-demolition approach. In the bargain, she praised the Point supporters, "unprecedented" community support, and the "naturalist vision of Alfred Caldwell" for this "signature treasure." Thus, supporters of a preservation approach have been building a wall of political support, not only around the Point but its key protectors, IHPA and Rep. Jackson.
The Corps and its local partners did not seek funding for work at the Point in 2005, but were reported to be preparing for IHPA a scale mockup in materials to defend its Fullerton section proposal. Supposition is, although denied, that this will be used as an end-run to convince IHPA to approve for the Point also. Task Force members suspect the mock-up will look more like limestone than the actual would, and in any case ignores the key point that demolishing and rebuilding is not preservation. Judging from comments of IHPA staff, they would not likely be fooled, but it is possible that the city will continuously modify plans to meet IHPA criticisms until a plan is approved that could be closer to the city's than the Task Force would like.
In March 2005, staff was quote as still enthusiastic and determined on the issue. Also, the overseeing President's Advisory Council in Washington said it needs to be involved and included in meetings.
The major blockages seemed over the view that 'it's about the limestone' and 'whether demolition and preservation go together'.
Then in summer 2005 Jackson got his preservation through the House while IHPA caved to pressure and (in an unprecedented action) developed a plan for the PD to approve, which gave the city most of what it wanted. And the city started pressuring Sen. Obama to kill the Jackson language in the Senate. So much for the barrier of protection supposedly built by Hairston, Currie and Raoul. And anther fight round began.
My wish is simple: now that all the signatories of the 1993 Memorandum of agreement are back at the table, we must live up to the agreement. The park district, U.S. Army Corps of engineers and the Department of Environment must deliver plans for the Point to the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, and those plans must comply with the standards set by the Secretary of Interior. Period. As we approach the 4th anniversary of this fight, my position remains the same: I support the community. (See below for her editorial of support and letters.) Top
US Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. said again he would again try in fall 2005 appropriations to block funding for a non preservation plan. IHPA was studying plans and preparing to issue its ruling. Mediator Kalven urge backing Jackson's plan-saying it needs help from our elected officials. That was met by firm letters by Hairston to Jackson, Rep. Currie, Sen. Raoul, and IHPA backing no demolition and asking support for the independence of IHPA
Jackson opposes fed money for Point
By MIKE STEVENS
U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-2) will once again try to block federal dollars destined for the controversial Promontory Point lake wall rehab unless the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers follows preservation guidelines.
Jackson plans to insert the preservation language next fall in the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, which funds Army Corps projects, Jackson’s Legislative Director Charles Dujon said last week.
In essence, Dujon said, Jackson wants the Army Corps to honor the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), an interagency agreement governing the $300 million project to reconstruct eight miles of Chicago’s shoreline including Promontory Point.
An attempt to make similar changes to the funding bill which passed in December was dropped after the city initially objected, Dujon said. After tinkering with Jackson’s legislative language, the city dropped their opposition but by that time it was too late, Dujon said.
“The language simply stated that all the parties needed to honor the original 1993 MOA,” Dujon said. “I don’t understand why [the city] would not want to adhere to that.”
With the MOA already in place, the city did not feel the need for Jackson’s additional language, Department of Environment spokesman Larry Merritt said.
“The city didn’t oppose it. The city just took a neutral stance on it,” Merritt said.
The city continues to work with the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) on refining their current design as required by the MOA, Merritt said.
After months of resisting demands for more detailed designs due to cost, city officials confirmed recently the IHPA dropped their request.
“They’ve determined they have enough information to comment on the plan’s components ... therefore the [city] is not required to submit [more detailed plans],” Chicago Park District spokesman Michele Jones said.
The IHPA, which is charged with signing off on the Point rehab, made the concession at a Dec. 14 meeting, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer Anne Haaker said.
“We will comment to the best of our abilities on what we have,” Haaker said.
It is unclear whether those comments would serve as any sort of formal approval of the city’s current design.
While the city and the IHPA argued over the importance of more detailed designs, resentment on the North Side blossomed.
The citywide lake shore restoration project has come under increasing fire, not only from Hyde Parkers, but from North Side community groups unhappy with the concrete and steel revetment that replaced the limestone boulders along the northern edge of Belmont Harbor.
“Instead of diffusing the impact of the waves ... like the limestone did, [the new revetment] is increasing the impact of the waves,” Lake View activist Karen Kennedy said.
During November storms, wave run-off washed out a gravel path and left standing water for weeks.
“We projected this would happen,” Kennedy said.
The jogging path, placed close to the revetment by community request, may be moved or the gravel replaced with grass, Merritt said.
“There is going to be overspray regardless,” Merritt said.
But local activists, like Robert Clarke of the South East Lake View Neighbors community group, point to the undamaged portions of the path behind the remaining limestone revetment just south.
“There was actual damage to the park caused by the new revetment whose only justification was that it would protect the park,” Clarke said.
Through an ad hoc coalition called Save Our Shore, Kennedy and other activists are pushing local officials to address the damage and its causes. To save Belmont Harbor’s remaining limestone revetment, which the city said needs replacing, the South East Lake View Neighbors is considering joining a lawsuit proposed by the National Historic Preservation Agency against the Army Corps.
Hyde Park Herald, February 23 2005. By Mike Stevens.
The former mediator for the Promontory Point negotiations urged last week that community leaders support the attempts of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-2) to block federal dollars destined for the controversial rehabilitation of the park's aging lakewall unless's the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers follows preservation guidelines.
This fall, Jackson plans to insert the preservation language in the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, which funds Army Corps projects. The legislative language will mandate that the Army Corps honor the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed in the early 1990s, Jackson's Legislative Director Charles Dujon said. The MOA governs the $300 million reconstruction project of Chicago's shoreline, including Promontory Point, and requires the Army Corps follow federal guidelines established by the National Historic Preservation Act.
"It seems to me there is an occasion for statesmanship and Jackson has shown the way," said Jamie Kalven, who sat down for a three-hour interview to discuss his role shepherding talks between community representatives and that three agencies overseeing Chicago's revetment reconstruction...
Kalven did not mention who specifically should take the lead. But two obvious candidates would be Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) nd Illinois House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25) said Jack Spicer of the Community Task Force for Promontory Point. Force members have batted against city proposals to demolish the limestone lakewall to make way for a concrete-based model for three years. If community leaders were to back Jackson's efforts, the recommendations Kalven outlined in his final mediator's report last spring would have a much better chance of being enacted, according to Spicer.
"Political cover [for Jackson] is absolutely essential," Spicer said.
The Illinois State Preservation Agency (IHPA), which is charged with signing off on the the project, is currently considering the city's design: a compromise proposal featuring two limestone steps and a concrete promenade [and two concrete steps]
Currie said she has not seen a formal proposal from Jackson and would be uncomfortable saying "Yea" or "Nay" until having something in writing. But given a brief sketch of Jackson's plan, she pointed out that it restates language that governs the process under way right now. "If the question is 'Do I think preservation is important in the reconstruction of the Point?' Yes. You can put me in that camp.," Currie said.
Kalven believes Jackson's proposal, the IHPA and his report's conclusions all reinforce on another. Political backing could guarantee an approach to rebuilding the revetment if not a result. "The process needs political support to run true," Kalven said.
While he hopes to see the Point "renewed, restored and preserved," Kalven does not believe losing federal dollars would be the worst case scenario. Spicer believes the lure of federal dollars might have contributed to creating a sense that the project desperately needed to be done. "The thing was fatally flawed from the beginning because they took the money under false pretenses," Spicer said, referring to early assessment that 20 feet of lakeshore could be lost to erosion every year.
That estimate, Department of Environment spokesman Larry Merritt sasid, offers and idea of what erosion rates could be expected if the revetment completely fails. "That [study] indicated that we needed to get the revetment fixed before it went to total failure," Merritt said. "It's a justification for moving forward."
With the federal budget's current emphasis on military spending, one Point watcher felt at this time the debate might be academic, saying "That money has long gone to Iraq by now, don't you think?"
Hyde Park Herald, February 23, 2005. By Mike Stevens
When Jamie Kalven got a call in the summer of 2003 from a friend looking for advice on the Promontory Point battle, he gave it. He said direct talks between the city and local residents would help resolved the dispute over how to restore the popular park's lakewall.
Both sides eventually agreed and Kalven was drafted, after a recommendation from the South East Chicago Commission (SECC), for the job. So in August, 2003, Kalven not only entered the fray but moved immediately to its center as the mediator of talks between community representatives and the three government agencies involved in the long-delayed project to rebuild the Point's defenses against erosion.
"They were deadlocked. It had become a he-said, she-said situation," said Bob Mason, executive director of the SECC which proposed and helped pay for mediation. "It was a move that had to be made. It kept people talking."
Talking is a strong suit for Kalven. Although he considers his works carefully he is not stingy with them. The interview for this article stretched to nearly three hours with little effort. A prepared list of questions was the final thing addressed. Kalven also regularly negotiates with large city agencies as an advocate for public housing residents.
"We presumed [the negotiations] ought to be conducted by a professional mediator," community representative Jack Spicer said. "But I don't think anybody could have done the job better." Rob Rejman, who represented the Chicago Park District at the Point talks, agreed, saying Kalven helped clarify important differences and raised the civility of the discussion. Spicer can take credit for being "the friend" whose call introduced Kalven into the Point negotiations.
When asked for three swords to describe the 10 months he spent on different Point-related projects, Kalven said "intense, complex and instructive." What began as a part time job consisting primarily of running monthly meetings blossomed into daily discussions via e-mail, fax and phone. Because it was an ad hoc process, Kalven said he found himself thinking with increasing regularity about the nuts and bolts of how to move the talks along. "It was taking over more and more of my life," Kalven said.
The Chicago Park District, the SECC and the Community Task Force for Promontory Point paid Kalven for his time. He decline to discuss the amount he received for his work but several people involved in the talks agreed that Kalven put in much more time than he billed. Despite the long hours, Kalven had difficulty keeping the public informed with regular reports on the closed-door meetings. These reports were a concession to concerns raised by community members and the Herald when it became known the meetings would be closed to the public.
Kalven remains convinced that closing the discussion remains the right decision. "The reality here is there would be no mediation process without that agreement," Kalven said. If given another chance, Kalven said he would ask for more authority over his reports, which had to be vetted by both sides before they could be released, in order to get tem out in a timely manner.
The Point negotiations broke down in January 2004 though Kalven continue to work on a final report commissioned by Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th). That report concludes that approaching the Point rehab with an eye towards preserving the existing limestone revetment is physically and financially feasible. As it stands, the city wants to demolish the existing revetment and replace it with a concrete-based structure that they say will last and can be built within the $22 million budget.
Kalven cautions that a "preservation" approach does not presuppose a particular outcome. Instead, it offers a new way for planers to approach remaining engineering, accessibility and money questions. "It isn't a magic wand but it is a rational and reasonable approach," Kalven said. "The report's still out there. I think it's possible to take action based on the conclusions of the report."
Jackson has cited Kalven's conclusions to support his push for a preservation approach at the Point. To view this report, go online to the-point.invisibleinstitute.com.
...a delay maybe just what Hyde Parkers need most in the ongoing controversy. After a seven-month hiatus, the issue resurfaced two weeks ago when U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson told the Herald that the congressman plans to inset "preservation language" in the Energy and Water Appropriation bill this fall....That's good new. Rep. Jackson is putting acton behind his cause ..
That doesn't necessarily mean all the limestone steps will be preserved and that no concrete will be introduced. ...But it does mean that an effort would have to be made to preserve much of the limestone in the rebuilding phase.
Jackson's action pit him against the city. The congressman has taken up another major battle against the city... a third airport in Will County..... Jackson has been the only legislator outspokenly in favor of preserving Promontory Point's historic limestone lakewall. Community support must go to him for that.
The Herald is hopeful that Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) will act on statements she made in a Jan. 3rd column in this newspaper, in which she said that signatories o the 193 MOA must live up to that agreement.
Hyde Park Herald, March 9, 2005. By Mike Stevens
In a flurry of letters, Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) worked last week to rally support for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency's (IHPA) role as final judge on plans for the Promontory Point lakewall rehab. Hairston wrote Illinois House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25) and state Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-13) on Feb. 28 urging both to support the state preservation agency, which is currently examining a controversial city proposal to demolish the aging limestone lakewall to make way for a concrete-based model.
Hairston hopes the support allows the IHPA to make a decision on the proposal free of any outside political pressure. "The IHPA has everything it needs in order to make its decision," Hairston said shortly after he offices faxed the Herald copies of the letters on Mar. 4.
In addition, Hairston wrote U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-2) on Feb. 28 to commend his efforts to mandate a preservation approach at the Point. This marks the fist public support* for Jackson's move to block federal funding for the long-delayed rehab unless the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers follows federal guidelines established by the National Historic Preservation Act.
"It definitely is a step in the right direction," said Jamie Kalven, who mediated Point negotiations between city and community representatives. "I'm glad to hear the alderman has expressed her support for Jackson's legislative initiative and the preservation process of the IHPA."
Jack Spicer of the Community Task Force for Promontory Point agreed. "It's really powerful politically," Spicer said. Task Force members have battled against city proposals to demolish the limestone lakewall to make way for a concrete-based frame for three years. "I think the IHPA understand that what preservation means is no demolition...except where proven to be absolutely necessary." Spicer said.
Four years after the city first proposed rehabilitation, it is time to wrap things up, Hairston aide Maurice Lee said. "We are trying to reach a point where a decision is reached and everybody is accountable," Lee said. "[and] if the question comes down to preservation then [IHPA] should answer that."
*This may be disputed by the Alderman.
Hyde Park Herald, March 9, 2005
As we look forward to spring on the South Lakefront, many in our community eagerly anticipate warmer days and new opportunities to enjoy our many wonderful parks. But as the weather changes, these thoughts also retur[n the?] mind the fact that one of our community's most beloved greenspaces continues to stand in peril.
Four more than four years, plans to rehabilitate Promontory Point have been on hold as the community has fought to prevent the demolition of its characteristic limestone steps. I have worked closely with various members of our community to ensure that no plan for the rehabilitation of Promontory Point dilutes Alfred Caldwell's original 1937 design. "The Point" is a signature feature on the South Lakefront and holds a prominent place in our community. It holds currency for us. We value Promontory Point as an irreplaceable recreational, historic and aesthetic resource.
Since the beginning of this fight I have pledged to stand with this community. This continues to be my position and it has been consistent over the four years that I have been directly involved with the issue.
I applaud Congressman Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. on his efforts to ensure that federal funding for the Shoreline Reconstruction Project be used exclusively to preserve the Point's historic limestone revetment. His support at the federal level will be critical in securing Promontory Point's future.
I would also like to commend the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency's efforts to preserve the Point. I have affirmed the standards of the 1994 Memorandum of Agreement. I am now building support for the Illinois Preservation Agency and I avow their authority to decide what constitutes compliance with the standards for preservation set down by the United States Secretary for the Department of Interior. The IHPA is the only signatory to the Memorandum of Agreement exclusively charged to maintain the integrity of historic places in the State of Illinois and has been steadfast in its prohibition of demolition at Promontory Point.
I have asked state Rep. Barbara Flynn-Currie and state Sen. Kwame Raoul to support the independence of the IHPA in deciding this issue.
The fight to save Promontory
Point has been long and, at times, contentious. As we continue our efforts,
what will be increasingly important is that we remain united and concentrate
our efforts towards the goal of preservation of this South Lakefront treasure.
February 28, 2005
The Honorable Jesse L.
2nd Congressional District, Illinois
2419 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-13-2
Dear Congressman Jackson,
I write to commend you on your efforts to ensure that federal funding for the Shoreline Reconstruction Project will be used to preserve the historic limestone revetment at Promontory Point in Burnham Park.
Promontory Point is a signature feature on Chicago's prized lakefront. It is one of the the South Lakefront's most beloved resources, fondly regarded by park users for its recreational, historic and aesthetic value. Your stand to maintain the integrity of this national treasure helps to guarantee that this landmark will endure.
For the past four years, I have worked with members of this diverse and energetic community to secure a preservation plan for Promontory Point that lives up to the 1993 Memorandum of Agreement and addressees preservation as its primary consideration. Support in favor of a rehabilitation design for "the Point" that maintains the naturalist vision embodied in Alfred Caldwell's original 1937 design has been unprecedented. These efforts deserve our continued and unwavering support.
February 28, 2005
Illinois State Preservation Agency
1 Old State Capitol Plaza
Springfield, IL 62701
Dear Mr. Coomer,
I am writing to commend the Illinois State Historic Preservation Agency in its efforts to preserve the historic limestone revetment at Promontory Point in Burnham Park as part of the Shoreline Reconstruction Project.
For the past four years, I have worked with members of Hyde Park's diverse and energetic community to secure a preservation plan for Promontory Point that lives up to the 1993 Memorandum of Agreement and addresses preservation as its primary consideration. Support in favor of a rehabilitation design for "the Point" that maintains the naturalist vision embodies in Alfred Caldwell's original 1937 design has been unprecedented.
The Illinois State Historic Preservation Agency is the only signatory to the Memorandum of Agreement exclusively charged to maintain the integrity of historic places in the State of Illinois. I support your agency's prohibition of demolition at Promontory Point. The Illinois State Preservation Agency has been steadfast in its demands that any plan for the rehabilitation of Promontory Point conform to the standards set down by the United States Secretary for the Department of Interior. I urge you to continue your efforts and affirm your agency's authority to determine what constitutes compliance with those standards.
Promontory Point is a signature feature on Chicago's prized lakefront. It is one of the South Lakefront's most beloved resources, fondly regarded by park users for its recreational, historic and aesthetic value.
Your continued commitment to the preservation of Promontory Point will help to assure that our community will be able to enjoy this treasure for many years to come.
Same to Barbara Currie and State Senator Kwame Raoul:
February 28, 2005
The Honorable Barbara Flynn-Currie
Illinois State Representative, 25th Representative District
1303 E. 53rd St.
Chicago, IL 60615
Dear Representative Currie,
I am writing to request your support for the Illinois State Historic Preservation Agency in its efforts to preserve the historic limestone revetment at Promontory Point in Burnham Park as part of the Shoreline Reconstruction Project.
For the past four years, I have worked with members of our diverse and energetic community to secure a preservation plan for Promontory Point that lives up to the 1993 Memorandum of Agreement and addresses preservation as its primary consideration. Support in favor of a rehabilitation design for "the Point" that maintains the naturalist vision embodied in Alfred Caldwell's original 1937 design has been unprecedented.
The Illinois State Historic Preservation Agency is the only signatory to the Memorandum of Agreement exclusively charged to maintain the integrity of historic places in the State of Illinois. The agency has been steadfast in its prohibition of demolition at Promontory Point and has rightly demanded that any plan for the rehabilitation of Promontory Point conform to the standards set down by the United States Secretary for the Department of Interior. I urge you to support their efforts and to affirm the agency's authority to determine what constitutes compliance with those standards.
Promontory Point is a signature feature on Chicago's prized lakefront. It is one of the South Lakefront's most beloved resources, fondly regarded by park users for its recreational, historic and aesthetic value.
Your support will help assure that our community will ultimately be rewarded for its steadfast diligence.
Hyde Park Herald, March 30, 2005. By Mike Stevens
Hyde Park's state legislators moved last week to support 5th Ward Leslie Hairston's high profile backing of the state preservation agency which is considering a controversial city proposal to demolish the aging limestone lakewall to make way for a concrete-based model.
House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25) and state Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-13) both said earlier this month that they plan to write the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) to offer their political support. "I have put in a call," Currie said. " I think there is no question that this is the agency that determines whether the project moves forward..and [I] would like to help them figure out what they need to help them come to a judgment."
Raoul said he favors maintaining Hyde Park's "flavor" by preserving existing architecture as much as possible. "Basically [we need to ] ...just allow the IHPA to be able to make a decision without outside political influences," Raoul said.
Hairston said she hopes this local political coalition provides the IHPA sufficient support to make a decision on the proposal free of any outside political pressure.
(Ed. a few parenthetical clarifications and corrections [ ] fill in information the editor believes important to understanding the facts or dynamics. GMO)
No plan for Point as deliberations continue. City, IHPA dispute proposed revetment project
Chicago Maroon, April 22, 2005. By Eliot Marcus
More than four years since the controversy over renovations of Promontory Point began, uncertainty remains regarding what exactly will be done with the limestone-block border that protects the park from erosion by the lake.
The project now stands on deliberations between the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA), whose approval is required for any construction work, and the Chicago Park District, which must produce plans that meet the agency's requirements.
The dispute is over the shape of the Point's waterfront border (revetment). The city had originally planned to replace the current limestone with the large, concrete-step design that can be seen elsewhere on the lakeshore. Those plans were halted when the IHPA challenged the city's evaluation that "there was nothing historic down there, and that it was just rubble," according to Anne Haaker, deputy state historic preservation officer at the IHPA.
In the meantime, members of the community reacted strongly and created the Promontory Point Community Task Force, which has fought to retain a similar all-limestone design. According to Jack Spicer, a member of the Task Force's Executive Committee, the Park District and the Army Corps were intentionally "keeping [the IHPA] out of the planning process" and had made a "veiled threat" to withdraw funding. "No one is surprised that their level of sincerity is not stunning," Spicer said.
"We would never prevent the involvement of the IHPA," said Rob Rejman, spokesman for the Park District [Project Manager for the Lakefront Rehabilitation Project]. "We've gotten signoff for every project we've done."
Haaker said that the Park District did report that the limestone was not structurally sound and could not be saved. "They called it rubble and I think they believed that," she said, "but I see stepstone that held up to that water for eighty years."
Haaker is now reviewing what she called the city's "sketch plan" for the Point with the agency's chief architect, Mike Jackson. The city is to revise its plans according to Haaker and Jackson's commentary until the IHPA's standards are met.
This process began last July in a series of closed meetings called by Fifth Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston between city agencies and the Community Task Force [and several other parties], where it was decided that the authority to approve or deny any plan lay with the IHPA. The city is apparently bound by a 1993 Memorandum of Agreement that requires that changes to the lakefront "shall match the existing in accord with the Department of Interior's Standards for Preservation" wherever possible.
Haaker called the ongoing discussion with the city, now over a year in process, "a confusing situation." Last summer, she said, the agency requested more detailed plans for evaluations, but the Park District responded that completing plans prior to IHPA approval would be "too expensive." It as only a month ago, she added, that her agency received new copies of plans from the Park District--which turned out to be merely an enlarged version of plans that had been previously sketched out.
Haaker said of the plans, "frankly there's not much detail here." Nonetheless, she added, "We won't do final approval until we see final plans."
The Task Force collected over $60,000 to produce an all-limestone alternative plan, which it presented in July 2003 along with claims that its plan would be cheaper to execute than the city's The Park District released new plan in response. This design included two steps of limestone atop the concrete, which would be textured. Haaker said that"there could be concrete," but "at this point I don't see us accepting the city's plan wholly."
Spicer warned that there was "at least a possibility that the city would use its influence with the governor to push the IHPA around," saying that there have been instances in the past in which the city has leaned on the agency.
The Hyde Park Herald has claimed that Hairston's public praise for the IHPA this past February was designed to shield it from such pressure. Hairston denies these claims. "I was writing a letter to say they need to make a decision," she said, not to build political support. In her March "Alderman's Report" for the Herald, however, she wrote, "I have asked state Representative Barbara Flynn Currie and state Senator Kwame Raoul to support the independence of the IHPA in deciding this issue."
U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. has also thrown his weight behind the agency, announcing this February that he will attempt to block federal funding for lakewall renewal this fall unless the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is to carry out the project, follows preservation guidelines.
Haaker denied any such interference. "I've never felt any political pressure on our decision-making process whatsoever on this issue," she said, though she agreed that there is "a history of Chicago doing exactly what Chicago wants to do."
She further said that t he IHPA has always had a "wonderful working relationship with the Park District," but when asked about the Point debate in particular, she was hesitant. "I'm not sure, in this situation, about the decision-making process," she said.
Haaker underlined the importance of the Point and of the limestone. She praised the "intimate relationship" between the people of Chicago and the lake, and pointed out that the Point is one of the last places on the lakefront that people still come to swim. "You look at what they've done with the concrete in other places on the lake," she said, "and you can see that intimate relationship with the lake is just gone."
Hyde Park Herald, May 25, 2005. By Mike Stevens
The city must fire its engineering consultant to insure a preservation approach will be used for the controversial lakewall rehab at Promontory Point plans said last week. "It would be hard to believe that the [city] is sincere in its pursuit of preservation if they continue to use an engineering firm that has no preservation training or experience," said Jack Spicer, a spokesman for the Community Task Force for Promontory Point.... "[STS consultants] is not the only engineering comply in the world but they're the only one that has said preservation at Promontory Point can't be done," Spicer said, referring to three different Point studies confirming the project can be done within federal preservation guidelines.
City consultants dismissed these studies saying they failed to follow engineering guidelines mandated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "It has to be engineering-lead project with a preservation component," Chicago Park District spokesman Jessica Maxey-faulkner said consultants is a highly qualified firm." She also noted that STS is not alone. It has the expert assistance of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA), who must sign off on th long-delayed project.
The call for STA Consultants' ouster comes a week after Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) announced that the city and the state preservation agency had agreed to consider a new "preservation-based" alternative. New plans would focus on rehabilitating the existing limestone step lakewall instead of tearing them down to make way for new construction as outlined in the city's current plan, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer Anne Haaker said. The city continued last week to say only that they were working with the IHPA and that no definite agreement has been reached about how to move forward with the Point's rehabilitation.
In addition, the task force continues to push for creation of a preservation design team as recommended in a year-old report commissioned by Hairston [Kalven Mediator's Report]. This team of preservation-trained architects and engineers as well as community representatives would help guide the rehab and be around to answer unforeseen questions as they pop up during the months-long project.
Spicer for his part said he awaits the day when the Point's restoration is complete and the war-weary task force can morph into a conservancy organization. This new group would organize tours, help clean up the park and raise money for maintenance and improvements. "All that time, money and energy we spent fighting could have been applied [more productively] and it will be as soon as the [city] is on the same preservation page," Spicer said.
June 22: The Community Task Force for Promontory Point held a public meeting to share updates, hear community input, and consider how best to have community input in a preservation plan decision at the meetings between the project sponsors and Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. About 30 attended. Executive Committee spokesperson Jack Spicer said this meeting was part of an effort to strengthen reporting and communications with the larger body.
The TF executive committee urged letters of thanks and support for preserving the Point to IHPA, Rep. Jackson, and Ald. Hairston.
Distributed: Task Force Letter to Assoc. Director Wheeler of IHPA June 2005. This cautioned with reasons the Park District appears to be less than serious about a preservation plan. TF members noted that IHPA persons were a bit hurt that the presumption was 'out there' that IHPA folds under pressure. The TF said persons need to thank and praise IHPA, as well as Ald. Hairston and Rep. Jackson.
Noted: the Park District was already a week late producing a plan to be evaluated by IHPA and entering into negotiations re developing a preservation -based plan.
An Aide to Rep. Jackson thanked the Task Force for its tenacity and described Jackson's compromise language (expected to be accepted this time by the Senate) providing for independent engineering study of a preservation plan.
Task Force executive committee members said that despite dangers we have spared the Point for five years and are closer than ever to saving it. They especially stressed the significance of departure of concrete reconstruction advocate Maria Jimenez from the Chicago Department of the Environment. The question now, they said, is getting a minimally invasive repair that does not demolish--they indicated that suggested tear-up-and reconstruct-(just)-the-north-part "compromise" is not acceptable.
See excerpts from the Herald's report on the meeting, below.
Special note: The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference thanks Working Group Mediator Jamie Kalven for his diligent and extraordinary work on this matter and for frequent and generous briefing of the Conference. We also thank Alderman Hairston for letters of strong support for a preservation, non-demolition approach to the Point, independence of the IHPA, and Rep. Jackson's intent to allow spending only for a preservation approach. And we thank Rep. Jackson and IHPA>
The vast number of letters that have poured into the Hyde Park Herald since the breakdown of talks can be viewed in their entirety in the Herald website, www.hpherald.com. The direct url is www.hpherald.com/pointletters022504.pdf. Both plans in their present form date from July, 2003. The subsequent protracted mediated negotiations between the city (Park District, Department of Environment and Army Corps) and the Task Force resulted in agreement and compromise on a number points but in no new plan(s), an assessment of results of that process are expected in the Final Report- presented but not yet released.
April, 2005 the Community Task Force received an additional $10,000 from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the promised match, the community having responded in 2004 with $10,000 for its part of the match. Driehaus has given c$42,000, the community #37,000 for a total of 79,000. The Task Force executive committee has expressed its gratitude to both.Top
IHPA has rejected city 'plan', to start meetings with project sponsors for a plan preserving, repairing in place as much of current as possible.
The city local sponsor spokes agency for the Point Project is now the Chicago Park District-possibly with another dept. to replace Environment, which is being reorganized and its responsibilities modified. The District is expected to present a possibly-modified plan about June 15 to the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. Note- there is not now any 'plan', only certain-percent concept drawings, only some of them at usual blow-up.
Community Task Force reps. say that IHPA remains firm in its position but the TF worries that the Park District has no professional engineers with experience in preservation either on staff or on contract and continues to put out that the community is evenly divided between the city's plan and the preservation approach as suggested in the Task Force plan. The TF is especially concerned that the Park District has no interest in any kind of community involvement in the decision process. The TF asks that the community be informed of their appreciation for the support of Ald. Hairston, Rep. Jackson, state Rep. Currie, and state Sen. Raoul for the independence of IHPA and a preservation-based approach (see below).
U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. in whose district the Point sits, succeeded in getting language barring any but a preservation approach to the Point through the House, in the Water Resources Development bill. There is a good chance the Senate will agree to this modified language--in 2004 the Senate did delete a block to any but a preservation approach. So, it appears to be up to Senator Obama.
Announcement of and thoughts about IHPA rejection of city plan
As reported in the May 18, 2005 Hyde Park Herald. By Mike Stevens. Questions to consider follow.
The city's controversial plan to demolish and rebuild Promontory Point's lakewall has been shot down by the state agency charged with signing off on the long-delayed rehab project, the Herald learned on May 16.
City engineers and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) agreed last week to begin meeting face-to-face to consider"preservation-based" alternatives to rehabbing the aging limestone revetment that protects the lakefront park at 55th Street at 55th Street from erosion.
"We'll be looking at a plan that would be rehabilitation-based as opposed to new construction.," Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer Anne Haaker said. "It [will] be a plan that would retain the existing limestone revetments in place to some degree."
Last week's agreement was significant, Haaker said, because it marked the first time in the three year long Point debate that the city has agreed to look at preservation-based alternatives with an "open mind." "The plans presented so far were replacement schemes," Haaker said. "Now we'll need to look at preservation-based schemes which have not been done."
Both of the city agencies involved in the project deny Haaker's announcement. "The plans are under review and things look positive," Chicago Park District spokesman Michele Jones said. A Department of Environment spokesman seconded this sentiment of where talks sit on the debate over Point plans.
Haaker expects the new face-to-face meetings with the city's engineers will lead to a compromise plan ready for public presentation by mid-summer. Although it remains early to say what sort of compromises the new plan entails, Haaker offered Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) some broad outlines of the IHPA's recommendations.
The relatively-intact limestone step-stone on the Point's southern side would allow for easier "in place" repair, Haaker said. But Haaker said that significant damage to the protective limestone steps on the north side might call for a more "invasive rehabilitation effort," according to a May 16 Hairston press release.
"They gave a thumbs up to the south side of [the Point] and said they'll work out the north side," Hairston said. "I think this gives us the opportunity to move forward now."
Hairston fought last year for inclusion of the IHPA, one of four agencies who signed the original agreement governing Chicago's lakefront rehab project. Since then, Hairston has rallied political support for the agency as it considered the city's plans to demolish the limestone lakewall to make way for a concrete-based model intended to last 50 years.
Points to consider in the above narrative. By Gary Ossewaarde
- The lead person for IHPA and Ald. Hairston agree that IHPA has taken this position and that the city and state can now work it out, and that the plan they will try to convince the sponsors to accept is south side little changed and the north side a compromise preservation approach. Spokesmen for the sponsors say they have no such understanding, but spokespersons could be behind the curve or official notice had not been served.
- This is a position, not a plan the sponsors have or will necessarily agree with. There is plenty of time for deadlock or pressure from the sponsors.
- Negotiation will be between government agencies and far away in Springfield. How will local concerns and interests be conveyed and have weight?
- If a compromise plan emerges, how much change for the north side will be proposed--what definition of "preservation" will it adhere to, and will it be acceptable to the Point Task Force, Ald. Hairston and other parties?
Letter from the Community Task Force for Promontory Point to IHPA June 2005
[Key points in the letter is "warning" to IHPA of Chicago Park District lack of staff or contracted preservation expertise, and thereby sincerity and ability in engaging on a preservation path--actually reliance on the only firm that says preservation unfeasible (a suggestion that firm be fired?), and CPD's policy of excluding community voice. Th letter stresses that a design team with preservation professionals and community reps is the main recommendation of the Alderman's Mediators Report. (Note, the local project sponsors deny that STS is the only firm that says preservation is unfeasible.)
Dear Mr. Wheeler [Assoc. Director, IHPA]:
We are delighted that your agency is once again part of the preservation process for Promontory Point. Your professional expertise and experience in historic preservation are highly respected in the community and are essential to the saving of the Point. Also, we wish to thank our 5th ward Alderman, Leslie Hairston, for her powerful, public insistence that the IHPA be allowed to play its rightful role. However, we are deeply concerned over the recent actions of the Chicago Park District regarding two very important matters.
First, preservation projects are best executed by preservation professionals--architects, landscape designers, engineers and experts in access for persons with disabilities--who have training and experience in preservation. The Park District has no preservation professionals involved in the Promontory Point project. In fact, their current engineering consultants, who have neither experience with nor sympathy for preservation, are the only engineers to have declared preservation to be infeasible and unaffordable at the Point. The professional realities of a preservation project are being ignored by the Park District.
Second, the Park District is excluding the Hyde Park community from the preservation design process. We are an intelligent, resourceful and committed community. We have spent vast amounts of energy and raised a considerable amount of money--almost $100,000--to save Promontory Point. These resources are available to share in a cooperative effort with the Park District. But the Park District is ignoring the value and the wisdom of the community.
Both of these concerns--the absence of preservation professionals and the exclusion of the community from the design process--raise serious doubts about the Park District's sincere commitment to preservation. Ald. Hairston's report of 5/17/04, prepared for her by Point mediator Jamie Kalven, strongly recommends the formation of a design team including preservation professionals and representatives of the community in the process. The Park District is ignoring the alderman's report.
When the Park District does use preservation professionals and does include the community in the process--as it did with the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool--the results can be a spectacular success.....The same could be true in Hyde Park. But if the Park District continues to exclude the community and preservation professionals from the process, a successful and timely preservation of Promontory Point will be impossible.
The Hyde Park community continues to energetically support the preservation of Promontory Point. And again, we thank Ald. Hairston for her insistence on the IHPA's rightful inclusion in this project.
Fred Blum, Bruce Johnstone, Jack Spicer and Connie Spreen, Executive Committee
Community Task Force for Promontory Point
From the Hyde Park Herald report on the June 22 2005 Task Force mtg.
June 29, 2005. By Tedd Carrison
Energized by the departure of a longtime foe, [the Promontory Point Task Force] launched a letter-writing campaign last week to support the state agency charged with signing off on the controversial rehab project. Former commissioner Maria Jimenez left the Chicago Department of the Environment in late May.... Many veterans of the Point debate blame Jimenez for bungling past negotiations, including last year's collapse of mediated talks between the city and community activists. "[Her resignation] is an extraordinary development," said Task Force member Greg Lane" ... was the reason, I believe, the Park District walked out of the mediation."
The task force is hopeful that the new commissioner, Sadhu Johnston, will improve relations between the city and preservationists and allow negotiations to move forward. "I think we are the closest to saving the Point that we have ever been," said executive committeeman Jack Spicer.
Spicer emphasized the importance of the Illinois Historic Preservation [Agency] in the years-old debate over rehab plans and encouraged residents to write letters applauding its impact. He likened the state political arm of the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to a "knight on a white horse" galloping to rescue the Point form a feckless Chicago Park District.
A representative of U.s. Rep Jesse Jackson Jr... praised the Task force for its resilience in the face of city pressures and said that the congressman has proposed a bill that would require a preservation feasibility study before construction could go forward. Though a previous bill, generally advocating restoration over demolition and new construction, failed in the Senate, Jackson's office hopes this revised version calling specifically for independent research will pass before the end of the year.
"This is real support," said Lane. "And amidst dealing with the city of Chicago, that is an impressive thing."
[Note, the language, actually city-suggested, was a subterfuge until Jackson could "post" his real language.]
Letter writer who attended the June 22 meeting says city holds neighborhood in disdain
Hyde Park Herald, June 29, 2005. By Karen Rectschaffen
Last night at the community meeting updating us on the current status of preservation efforts for Promontory Point two things stood out. One, the resoluteness that has characterized the community effort from the beginning is alive and well. Two, the inability of the city to act on two very important matters is disturbing.
There has been no effort to incorporate the expertise of preservation professional in the re-design of the point; and the recommendation that community members be included in the re-design has been systematically ignores by the park district, suggesting that the city holds Hyde Parkers at arm's length and with disdain.
The task force has been operating effectively for five years; a lot of money has been raised to hire impeccably credentialed professionals who have shot down many of the initial objections by the city to a preservation approach. Some people have gotten more gray hair in the process but it is abundantly clear that we are not going away. Thank you for such good coverage in the Herald.