August/September 2005: Our Point blunted. Will Sen. Obama's initiated fair discussions, Buffalo District of the Army Corps review, lead to resolution? What is the Conference's view?

Preservation agency yielded to city in odd hybrid Point “plan” as Rep. Jackson got preservation mandate through US House. Now Senator Obama has initiated a new process with a third party, after public meeting shows the city is not listening.

To Latest Point news and analysis. To Point home navigator. This page is #18 in the 2003-07 Series Preceding page: Summer-Jackson Amendment, IHPA/CPD Accord . Following pages: Late 2005-mid 2006, Scope of Work and 1993 Memorandum documents,
Point Latest.

The 2003-ongoing series of pages on the Point dispute

1: 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 rival plans
11: Latest Promontory Point news
12: From the Mediator's Final Report May 2004

13: About and 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, Ill. Hist. Pres. Agency
15: Late 2004, including Mediator's Final Report with a 3rd option
16: 2005 through June
17: Mid 2005: Jackson Amendment, IHPA-CPD, HPKCC and other letters of appeal
18: August through Sept. 15 2005 meeting; HPKCC , Obama positions. [This page]
19: Late 2005-mid 2006: Comp. rejected, Sen. Obama and a 3rd party review process
20: Scope of Work doc. for review; 1993 Memorandum of Agreement.

Report on the September 15, 2005 public meeting on the (final?) plan for the Point

By Gary Ossewaarde, HPKCC Parks Chair

On September 15 2005, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, U.S. Army Corps, City of Chicago, and Chicago Park District presented at South Shore Cultural Center their apparently final plan for shoreline protection rehabilitation at Promontory Point in Chicago, approximately 55th Street. This was announced as an informational meeting, not a hearing. The Robeson Theater at the Cultural Center became full not long after the meeting began

The meeting, begun before the arrival of Alderman Hairston, was started with introductions and short statements. Handout included the agenda, latest plan and views of the north and south side, July 19 letter from the Chicago Park District accepting on behalf of the planning partners of conditions from IHPA and July 25 letter from IHPA to the Park District further defining conditions and giving consent to proceed to the 50 percent drawings stage. (The plan and views are found below; the two letters are currently found below.) Materials were also distributed or displayed by the Community Task Force for Promontory Point.

The plan as described by presenters from the agencies included the following main features or changes:

The justification stated by the agencies for the exclusive use of concrete for the Promenade and first two steps was strength to withstand wave force, especially in high-water phases when water may wash up against the steps, and a clear path for universal access, both on the promenade and on two steps. The staying power of "special, thick" concrete was defended against criticism.

The justification given for rebuilding the north side was structural failure; for the east side was unhistoric repair of the 1960s that was also failing. They stated it was hard to reconcile such diverse aims as preservation, shore protection, and repair or replacement of failed sections. The agreed solution was to start over with the north side but make it as close to the original as feasible but to keep the less damaged and less heavily attacked south side.

No exact timetable was given, but the plan must now be prepared to 100% drawings stage for final review, then if approved construction drawings will be prepared. Both funds and resources are currently tied up in other sections of the lakeshore. So, it could not be guessed whether work could start in 2006/ And it will be done in two seasonal phases.

Alderman Hairston stated some of the history of the project, including difficulty gaining inclusion and information, and that the four responsible agencies under the 1903 Memorandum of Agreement had finally been assembled together to consider comparability of goals, the first of which are preservation and community use. She said she would listen to what the meeting said, but that this is the plan of the legally responsible parties.

A letter was read from U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) stating that he would take into account the interests of local constituents when handling legislation this fall that could include language by Rep. Jackson mandating preservation of the existing step stones. He would decide the matter and evaluate the present plan in accord with major principles: preservation, access, and structural integrity for protecting the Point.

The moderator attempted to read batches of similar questions/comments, with response for each set by various agency spokespersons. As vocal outbursts, calls for an open meeting and hearings, and shouted questions and comments began to overwhelm this process, Alderman Hairston changed the process to allow Greg Lane to make a brief talk on behalf of the Community Task Force for Promontory Point, then to allow persons to line up to ask questions, some of which were given answers or counter statements by representatives of the agencies. Mr. Lane strongly criticized the plan, the studies and conclusions on which it was based, and the way it was arrived at. The majority of those who lined up insisted on making statements rather than asking questions; several had their statements cut short by the Alderman. Several members of the audience attempted to break in with remarks. Almost all those who lined up to speak opposed the plan.

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The plan (at 50 percent stage):

Official plan

Typical of repaired section of south side (not where blocks go into water):

Typical of the part of the south side kept (for a few hundreed feet, blocks will go into the  water for swimming access).

Typical of north side east (16 foot promenade). Note there are now 3 tiers of limestone blocks above the 2 concrete steps:

Typical north east side

Transition from south to east side with switchback access ramp. Chicago Park District

Transition from south to east side with switchback access ramp. Chicago Park District

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Text of the Park District and IHPA letters with certification and conditions of conformity to to the 1993 Memorandum and IHPA consent for the Park District, City, Army Corps to proceed to 50 percent drawings (distributed at the Sept. 15 public meeting)

July 19, 2005

Mr. Bill Wheeler
State Historic Preservation Officer
Illinois State Preservation Agency
1 Old State Capitol Plaza
Springfield, Illinois 62701

Subject: Promontory Point--Incorporation of IHPA Recommendations

Dear Mr. Wheeler:

Thank you for making time to meet with me on May 4, 2005, during my visit to Springfield for Parks Day at the Capital. During this meting, your staff recommended finalization of the City's plan for Promontory Point, but with the following changes:

Previous plan improvements for the remainder of the structure will also be retained, the most notable of which include:

My staff contacted the Department of Environment on May 4, 2005 to begin evaluation of your recommendations. City engineers have identified feasible solutions that incorporate all IHPA recommendations as listed above - see enclosed concept sketches. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reviewed the proposed changes, and gave their preliminary agreement on June 23, 2005. the Park District and City are prepared to move to 100% design documents.

If you agree that a final plan incorporating all of the elements listed above will meet the Secretary of the Interior's "Standards and Guidelines for Archaeology and Historic Preservation " as required by the Memorandum of Agreement for the Illinois Shoreline Erosion Interim 3 Project (MOA), I will instruct my staff to move forward with 100% design documents. Through continued coordination with IHPA for finalization of engineered details, I'm confident that we can present plans to community stakeholders by the end of August 2005 and bring the design process to closure. Please advise me at your earliest convenience, and call me if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

 

Timothy J. Mitchell
General Superintendent and CEO
Chicago Park District

 

cc: Sadhu Johnston, Department of Environment
Gary E. Johnston, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

 

Cook County
Chicago
Lake Michigan Shoreline Protection at Promontory Point (Old Prj ID:0109170043WCK) 54gh to 57th St.

COEC,
IHPA Log #043001801

July 25, 2005

Timothy Mitchell
Chicago Park District
541 N. Fairbanks Ct.
Chicago, IL 60611

Dear Mr. Mitchell:

We have reviewed your letter of July 19, 2005 in response to our meeting with you in Springfield on May 4, 2005. Our office appreciated the opportunity to be able to discuss with you the recommendations presented at that meeting by IHPA Chief Architect, Mike Jackson, FAIA. In our opinion, the subsequent evaluation of IHPA's recommendations by the Chicago Park District, the City of Chicago, and the Army Corps of Engineers followed by their preliminary agreement to incorporate those recommendations into the City's plan for Promontory Point will allow the project to conform to Stipulation 2b as required by the Memorandum of Agreement for the Illinois Shoreland Erosion Interim 3 Project (MOA).

The following comments by IHPA Chief Architect, Mike Jackson, FAIA reiterate our recommendations per our meeting discussion and should be utilized by the project design team to further devel pp the City's plan to the 50% design stage:

Sincerely, William L. Wheeler, State Historic Preservation Officer

Cc: Gary E. Johnston, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District, Sadhu Johnston, Chicago Department of the Environment

[Drawings follow in the letter]

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Letter from Senator Barack Obama to Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference followed by open letter read at the September 15 meeting and in the September 28 Herald

[The letter to the September 15 meeting added standards by which he will be evaluating the Point's future--Preservation, access, structural ability to protect the Point.]

Dear George:

Thank you for contacting me about the preservation of Hyde Park’s Promontory Point. I appreciate hearing from you. As a resident of Hyde Park, I know how much this special place means to the community.

I know from personal experience that many Chicago residents in Hyde Park and beyond share your devotion to the historical value of the Point, which is among the most prized landmarks in the city. It is my belief that historical preservation should be the underlying principle of any strategy to "save" the Point.

The Senate is expected to begin consideration of the Water Resources Development Act, the bill that would authorize federal funding for the Point project, this fall. As we await the scheduling of Senate consideration of this legislation, I am closely examining the issues associated with the Point and listening carefully to various perspectives on the issue. You can be sure your views, along with those of the other concerned Chicago residents from whom I have heard, will be paramount in my consideration of how this debate should be resolved.

Thank you for writing. Please continue to keep in touch on this or any other issue.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama


By Barack Obama to the September 15 2005 meeting, as in Hyde Park Herald, September 28, 2005:

I would like to thank all of you who have contacted me about the preservation of Hyde Park's Promontory Point. As a longtime residents of Hyde Park, I know how much this special place means to the community.

I know from personal experience that many Chicago residents in Hyde Park and beyond share your devotion to the historical value of the Point, which is recognized as a place of significant historical interest in the city. Many of you also visit the Point to swim, enjoy a day in the sun or, in my case, jog.

The Senate may consider legislation this fall that oversees the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. As we await the scheduling of Senate consideration of this bill, I am closely examining the issues associated with the Point and listening carefully to various perspectives on the issue. You can be sure that your views, along with those of other concerned Chicago residents from whom I have heard, will be paramount in my consideration of how this debate should be resolved.

Please know that I am viewing this issue with the following principles in mind:

(1) Historical preservation should be the underlying principle of any strategy to "save" the Point.

(2) The Point must be protected against wave wash erosion to minimize maintenance costs an resist structural failure.

(3) The cost to Chicago Park District should be reasonable and affordable, and that includes both the cost of restoration, operation and maintenance.

(4) The local and federal finance resources dedicated to this project cannot be tied-up indefinitely without risk to the goals of all assembled here.

I know that those of you here today are committed to these principles, and I am confident that we can reach common ground by focusing on what will preserve the Point for future Hyde Parkers.

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Statement of Comment by HPKCC, submitted to the Agencies at the September 15 meeting

September 15, 2005

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,
Illinois Historic Preservation Agency,
Chicago Park District and
City of Chicago Department of Environment

Dear Sirs:

On four occasions, the Board of Directors of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, by unanimous vote, passed resolutions opposing demolition of the limestone step stone revetment at Promontory Point on Chicago’s lakefront and its replacement with a concrete-intensive structure.

The Point is too important to Chicago and our community to be so altered The 1993 Memorandum of Agreement recognized an overriding interest in preserving this historic property and repairing it to match the existing. The limestone is the heart of the Alfred Caldwell historic design and is what makes the steps a special place to be preserved.

The revetment can be successfully repaired using the existing limestone, with intelligent access for all and swimming access sensitively incorporated. Numerous expert engineering studies show such a preservation approach is feasible and within budget, with a product likely to last longer than concrete.

The proposed plan ignores the MOA mandate to repair and reconstruct--without shown cause; it also fails to minimize impact to this historic property. The proposed configuration will not look like the existing design nor serve existing purposes such as safe and convenient all-around access into the water.

Finally, the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference strongly objects to the process used by the planning partners. There has been minimum engagement and consultation with the affected community. We contrast highly successful collaborations such as the South Lake Shore Drive and Morgan Shoals projects. Design has favored the most over-engineered, high-cost solutions with little but lip service for preservation and community needs.

We insist on a preservation plan for the entire limestone step revetment at Promontory Point.

Sincerely,

George W. Rumsey, President, and the Board of Directors,
Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference

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HPKCC viewpoint, as was on the hydepark.org front page in August 2005:

The Chicago Park District and Illinois Historic Preservation Agency on July 25 announced a settlement prepared by IHPA (an unprecedented action) with CPD, a deal secretly negotiated under pressure from the governor and lobbying by District and city leaders, with no community input or representation (shut out by our elected leaders last year), or even consultation with Alderman Hairston. The IHPA ran past the first mandated consideration--repair and reconstruct --and allows the city to treat as "new construction" 70 percent and only repair (with stone in front) part of the south side.

The deal will allow the city to demolish and rebuild the north and east parts of the Promontory Point seawall with concrete and steel a promenade and 2 steps concrete with their backs faked to look like limestone and the top two steps limestone blocks. IHPA does stipulate the structure be the same width, height and location as the existing. Is the object of the deal high costs and contracts? The look will be phony, the concrete may well spall and deteriorate in a few short years. Part of the Promenade would have ADA access as per all proposals but access down and water/swimming access are not specified. The reconstructed Point would be cobbled onto part of the south side of the Point that would only be repaired, part having a "protective" berm that could encroach yet more on 57th Street beach and interfere with swimming.

(The city has had to again and again back off misinformation about need for total rebuild and suitability and availability of limestone, but now says the south part can stay but the north part, not in much worse shape, has to go--would you like to see half of Robie House preserved and the rest approximated in cement?)

While IHPA, which stood as a barrier to desecration of the Point) gave in to the system, Rep. Jackson at least had the interest, courage, and legislative savvy to slip an amendment into major legislation providing that federal money can be used at the Point only for preservation work based on the current structure and materials-the original limestone steps. IHPA spokespersons agree that if this becomes the law, their deal with the city cannot go forward.

The fate of Jackson's legislation is now up to Senator Obama, who is under great pressure from city government, all the more rough for being under scrutiny by the US District Attorney. We join the Point Task Force in asking that citizens call Senator Obama and simply ask him to side with the community and guide Rep. Jackson's amendment in the Senate.

202-224-2854, 312-886-3506, Toll-Free: 866-445-2520. email obama.senate.gov/contact
And contact the media, they and Obama are being told that "just 4 people" care about the Point.

HPKCC has on several occasions stood for a preservation approach and stood with the Community Task Force. In July we sent letters to Sen. Obama, IHPA, and the Park District CEO stating our position, that no section of the Point should be replaced and that repairs should be only those essential to extending its life or improving accessibility and must not mar its beauty, historical integrity or usefulness to visitors.

For more information visit our Point Latest page, Promontory Point home. and the Community Task Force website, www.savethepoint.org.
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From the Conference Reporter, Summer 2005

Promontory Point Threatened by New Deal, Pressure against Legislative Rescue

By Gary Ossewaarde

In the last few weeks

First, The U.S. House of Representatives passed a provision mandating the original limestone step-stone design for Promontory Point. We commend Rep. Jackson for inserting this amendment into the Water Resources Act, which governs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

This amendment needs active shepherding by Senator Obama over the next few weeks if it is to survive heavy city lobbying and pressure focused on Obama and others. It is likely that if the Jackson language becomes law, the city’s proposed new construction cannot go forward. City efforts are focused on killing the Jackson amendment and persuading everyone that the matter is settled and over because of a recent agreement between the city and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

For this reason, the Community Task Force for Promontory Point, with various historic and preservation organizations and encouragement from the Conference, asks that friends of the Point call the Senator and ask him to guide the Point amendment through the Senate.

Also feeling the pressure and acceding to city demands was the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA). This agency is mandated under federal law to rule whether plans meet preservation criteria. IHPA, after holding up city plans for four years in favor of a preservation and limestone-based treatment, suddenly did an about face and proposed adjustments to the city plan that they could approve as qualifying under a lesser standard than preservation. The final terms were worked out in the dark and give the city nearly all it wants.

IHPA consent does an end-run on the 1993 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), treating most of the Point as “new construction.”

The 1993 MOA, prepared because the Chicago shoreline protection project “will have effect upon historic properties included in and eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places,” gives two options for treatment.

The first option, Stipulation 2a, provides that “where the effect consists of the repair or reconstruction of contributing step stone revetment, the Corps shall consult [with partners] to ensure that the design and construction of the revetment will match the existing in accordance with the recommendation of the Secretary of the Interior’s ‘Standards and Guidelines for Archeology and Historic Preservation.’”

The second, 2b, provides that “where the effect consists of new construction of step stone revetment within or adjacent to identified historic properties, the Corps shall consult …to ensure that the new construction is designed and constructed to minimize impacts to the historic property.

IHPA in its letter of July 25 says that incorporation of certain recommendations allows the city’s plan to conform to Stipulation 2b for all but a defined 30 percent of the seawall! No reason is given for skipping over 2a, “repair or reconstruction” for more than two-thirds of the Point and declaring that it qualifies for new construction and not repair.

One would think that the city’s plan to demolish over two-thirds of the existing seawall and substitute a new one of concrete instead of limestone, except for a couple of rows placed on top and substitution of a limestone-derived surface pattern on the concrete vertical step faces, is in itself not preservation of the affected historic property. Nor does it “minimize impacts”, the very test of conformity under 2b.\

The only new restrictions on the “new construction” are that the stone top of two steps using existing-limestone blocks has to be in the present location, the width of the revetment has to match the existing instead of being built out in the lake as the city planned, and the lakeside rubble toe stone has to cover the sheet wall.

Even the section of the south face that is to be repaired in place and have the accessible path rise and go behind the steps can have toe stone lakeward of the existing stones as long as it has “minimum visual impact on the restored zone.”

No consideration or mention is given to preserving water access and swimming for any part of the seawall, which would become treacherous if one had to climb/step over small-cut stone to get to the water.

This plan is now being legitimized and fast-tracked. A “public meeting” will be scheduled by the city after the plans are at the 50 percent done stage—close to a fait accompli, The design sponsors and IHPA will take “comments” that do not have to be answered. City sources, on the other hand, say that if the community outright rejects their plan, the city would walk away from the project altogether.

Alderman Hairston told the media that building the project as now recommended depends on federal support. If that is not forthcoming (presumably because the Jackson amendment is passed and the Army Corps refuses to do the project under those conditions), the park district must find the funds. (Note: The District has given no sign to date that it would seek such funds, or use what it has available to do a repair-only preservation plan, but anything is possible.) The Alderman’s comment is an answer to a question all should consider: “If the Jackson amendment becomes the law, what then?”

Conference actions, position, expectation for officials

As Rep. Jackson’s legislative move [went forward] and the IHPA endorsed the revised city plan, the Conference had already written the IHPA, Senator Obama, and the Chicago Park District asking all of them to commit to and pursue a real preservation plan in light of Rep. Jackson’s language, asking Senator Obama to shepherd the Jackson amendment through the Senate, and asking the park district to also include preservation-experienced engineers and architects in the design team and return to discussions with community representatives.

HPKCC has several times passed resolutions and written our elected officials, as well as IHPA, to the effect that the Point should be repaired but not replaced, and in limestone, and that its beauty, historic integrity and usefulness to visitors should be preserved. We ask that our elected officials support this preservation approach and resist the latest city plan, even though it has the stamp of the IHPA.


What we believe is wrong with the city’s plan and its pursuit of the plan

The rebuilt sections would be cobbled onto a part of the south side of the Point that would only be repaired--and have a "protective" berm in front of part that could encroach further on an already encroached-upon 57th Street beach and deep-water cast-off and swimming lanes. The city has suddenly discovered that this south part of the Point only needs repair. Serious studies show the north side of the Point is not significantly worse off than the south but stable for now, blocks having sunk--it needs major reconstruction that can be done without demolition. An examination of sections of the lakefront done in concrete shows concrete already cracking, and dissolving both on the water and land sides.

How would we respond to a plan to preserve a quarter of Robie House and “approximate” the rest in concrete or plastic? The limestone is the heart of Alfred Caldwell’s design and forms the “character” of the Point revetment. When given a choice, people shun the concrete steps north of the Point and go to the Point.

The Conference believes our elected officials should answer first to interests of their communities. HPKCC is appalled at the city’s heavy-handed application of pressure and expect our representatives to resist it. Also, we are appalled at the city’s determined assumption of exclusive decision-making and blockage of public input in projects that affect community quality of life. We cite instances such as the Morgan Shoal project and South Lake Shore Drive where collaboration with communities have made the projects better.

Saving the Point now depends on the community raising its voice and on Jackson's preservation language surviving the Senate. Squarely bearing the burden and responsibility are Senator Obama and other elected officials. Once a preservation approach has been assured, we will seek and support repair of the Point.

For more information visit www.hydepark.org/Parks/Point.html, click Latest.

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From the Conference Reporter of Autumn, 2005

Around the Parks: The Point by Gary Ossewaarde

Sen. Obama steps up to the plate. Will next negotiations preserve the Point steps?

Senator Obama has answered the community’s call, and the process he worked out with the parties appears to have set Promontory Point on the road to preservation.

The Senator and Rep. Jackson should be commended for the large amount of time and effort expended, for listening and probing deeply, for reaching out for new openings, for siding with his neighborhood on the bottom-line need to preserve the Point and include preservation professionals, and for respecting the Community Task Force’s insistence on ensuring that the community is informed and involved in the latest process from the beginning.

The Conference appreciates and expects such involvement, but, as resolved at our November board meeting, we are nonetheless concerned whenever meetings that decide major issues for the community are closed to public and stakeholder observers.

The current process, as communicated by the Task Force Executive Committee:

“In late September, Senator Barack Obama joined Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., in supporting the community's effort to preserve Promontory Point. Since the Senator stepped in, the City's principal engineering consultant, STS, has been fired, and a new study of the Point has been requested from the Army Corps of Engineers. The new study will focus directly on preservation, and members of the community will be involved in the process from the beginning.”

A harrowing road from there to here

An old saw describes army life as boredom punctuated by panic. Such has been the case with the Point for six years. These were basically years of stalemate and sometimes threat, with occasional backing off by the city from aspects of an all-concrete plan and Task Force counters based on professional expert studies paid for by upset residents and concerned foundations, as well as occasional serious negotiations.

This summer, matters seemed to come to a head as U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. placed in House legislation language that restricts federally funded reconstruction to preserving the Point’s limestone step stone. Shortly thereafter the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, brought back last year into its rightful role in the process by Ald. Hairston, reached an agreement with the city that most in the community took to be out of comportment with IHPA’s preservation mandate.

The Conference and many other Hyde Parkers contacted Senator Barack Obama asking that he shepherd Rep. Jackson’s language through the U.S. Senate and simultaneously objected to the latest plan.

On September 15 the park district and the other Point plan partners convened an “informational” meeting in South Shore. More than 350 Hyde Parkers came and were not only unwilling to accept the plan but also objected to the meeting’s process- a presentation followed by attendees’ questions bundled together, read out second-hand, and given quick replies. Later in the meeting Alderman Hairston asked people to line up, but only to ask questions, which people nevertheless did while of course trying to make statements, for at least another hour and a half.

Yes, the meeting was raucous--and at times rude--due to public anger and deliberate disruption. But it never got out of hand.

Without the strident response of the community at this meeting, subsequent forward movement would not [have] occurred and the issue would have been closed.

Instead, Alderman Hairston and other officeholders began to explore—including at the HPKCC Annual Meeting September 18—what changes could create a strong, mutually acceptable plan.

A new beginning with (likely) better result

Within two weeks Senator Obama acted, convening an extraordinary meeting of key parties and stakeholders in early October. Obama told this meeting that he wanted this special revetment in his own Hyde Park neighborhood preserved, to the extent possible as he had known and enjoyed it since 1985.

He wondered how the Jackson language might be strengthened; probed the positions, concerns and reasoning of the two sides; and asked the city’s engineering firm to step aside in favor of an independent third party—a request later made directly to the city. He told the parties that he carried a big although blunt hammer--federal legislation-- and he would not hesitate to use it. But he preferred the park district and task force meet and agree on principles, that a third party engineer look over the concepts and costs, and that this be done on a fast timetable.

In ensuing weeks, the Senator’s staff worked with the parties, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, to start a new process likely to bear fruit. The principals will be various geographic districts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Community Task Force, and the Senator’s and Representative’s offices, with others included. The parties insisted upon a careful agreement with safeguards. And a clear mandate was given to the Corps to study the Point with preservation as the object. The assurance to the city, which has acquiesced*, is that maintenance costs to local parties be kept reasonable.

We must recognize that this process will take time. And we expect the entire community to be kept fully and timely informed and involved, with the entire process as open as possible.

*This part may be misleading--their openness to the Senator's suggestion is lukewarm and they pretend not to know about communications clearly made.

At the October 19 public discussion, "What's Right and What's Wrong with Hyde Park-Kenwood, two of five tables listed saving the Point in their top three choices of what they would like to see maintained and not lost. Other mentions: the Southside lakefront and parks and beaches.

HPKCC letter to the District and other parties, early December 2005 endorsing Senator Obama's initiative, stressing that the Point is public property and its stewards public servants, and calling for the negotiating meetings to be open.

(The Conference's letter was mandated at its November board meeting, before Park District Superintendent Tim Mitchell's November 2nd reply to the Conference letter of July 7 (both above) was received. The new letter serves, however, as the Conference reply. Similar position letters were sent to other parties and elected officials.)

As published in the December 14 Hyde Park Herald, version addressed to General Superintendent and CEO Timothy J. Mitchell.

Dear Mr. Mitchell:

Promontory Point is one of the most popular and cherished landmarks in our neighborhood. The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference endorses Senator Barack Obama's intervention in the process, as well as his commitment to a true preservation plan. We applaud his action in gathering the parties together and ensuring that preservation remains one of the most important goals of any rehab of the Point.

The Point is public property. The funds for rehab and improvement are public monies. The park district, which oversees the Point, and the Army Corps of Engineers, which will have a significant role in the future of the Point, are both public agencies staffed by public servants. Any proposed change to the Point should be discussed in public.

The media and concerned citizens should be permitted to observe future meetings between the parties to see for themselves what is happening. We already see the consequences of closed meetings: the Task Force for Promontory Point reports that Senator Obama has denied STS Consultants any future role in the Point, whereas the park district maintains that this has yet to be confirmed. The public is left confused and uninformed.

Open meetings are at the heart of democracy, and so we urge you to make public all meetings concerning the Point's future.

George W. Rumsey
President
Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference

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Senator Obama to HPKCC President, December 2005 (similar to other stakeholders), with Review Guidelines

Dear George:

Thank you again for contacting me about the preservation of Hyde Park’s Promontory Point. I know you have expressed your concerns on this subject in the past, and as a resident of Hyde Park, I would like to provide you with an update on this special place.

This October, I met with representatives of the City of Chicago, the Chicago Park District, and the Task Force for Promontory Point, to discuss the disagreement associated with restoring the Point. During that meeting, I expressed my intent to pursue a 3rd party engineering review of the plans to restore the Point.

I have contacted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers headquarters in Washington, D.C., requesting that the Corps conduct the 3rd party review through the Corps District Office in Buffalo, New York - -an office with Great Lakes expertise. I have also requested that this review consider particular guidelines. A copy of these guidelines is enclosed for your information.

Thank you for writing. Please continue to keep in touch on this or any other issue.

PROMONTORY POINT REVIEW GUIDELINES

Historic Preservation

· Adhere to the Historic Standards/Guidelines of the U.S. Department of Interior, and principles outline in the Project Memorandum of Agreement of 1993.

o Preservation—“repair in place” – minimal intervention, as has already been proposed by the ACOE for the south side of the revetment; the replacement of intact or repairable historic materials will be avoided; where the severity of deterioration necessitates repair or limited replacement, the new materials will match the old in composition, design, color, and texture.

o Rehabilitation – “remodel”—minimal changes to allow for code compliance such as accessibility for persons with disabilities; new additions will not destroy historic materials, features, and spatial relationships that characterize the property.

o Restoration – “remove” – where a later addition may need to be taken away and the features from the original period reconstructed, such as the concrete deck at the east end.

o Reconstruction – “rebuild” – where historic revetment is so badly deteriorated that it cannot be repaired in place, minimal rebuilding in the original location must re-create the appearance of the non-surviving historic property in materials, design, color, and texture; designs that were never executed historically will not be constructed.

· Involve Horace Foxall of the Corps’ Center of Expertise for the Preservation of Historic Buildings and Structures in the engineering analysis.

Accessibility for People with Disabilities

· Outstanding, thoughtful, appropriate accessibility features for the full range of persons with disabilities and for a full range of activities, including water access, appropriate for a preservation project.

Swimming

· Maintain multiple entry points to the water distributed around the entire revetment.

· Entry designs allowing for safe and easy access for the full range of park users, including water access for people with disabilities.

Basic Engineering

· Provide shoreline protection/storm damage reduction for a 50-year project life.

· Cost of construction and operation and maintenance to the local agency shall be reasonable and affordable.

Study Process

· Transparency

o An initial meeting involving the Corps, the Community Task Force, the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP), and Senator Obama and/or his staff, prior to the beginning of the review.

o Access by the Community Task Force and the NTHP to the Corps during the study, including regular face-to-face meetings.

o A final meeting involving the Corp, the City, the Community Task Force, the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP), and Senator Obama and/or his staff before the Corps reports the results of its review.

· Independence.

o Involvement of Horace Foxall of the Corps’ Center for Expertise for the Preservation of Historic Buildings and Structures.

o Involvement of the Corps’ Federal Preservation Officer [of Compliance].

o Involvement o the NTHP in formulating the review and during it.

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