to this page
The Point home and index to pages. Community News
www.SaveThePoint.org site incl. plans: http://www.savethepoint.org/prop200303/index.html:
City/Dept. of Environment site with city plans, updates
Peter Rossi contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Point Working Group (Mediator's) website: www.thepoint.invisibleinstitute.com.
Landmark and Preservation status (incl. March 24 Landmark Pres. Council of Ill listing)
The huge inflow of letters to the Herald are cached in www.hpherald.com/pointletters022504.pdf
Alderman Hairston's email. To Alderman's website- find City Council and scroll to name.
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: [This page] Listing on the '10 Most Endangered list; disputes over plans and 1994 Memorandum, defenses of the rival plans
11: Latest Promontory Point news, Expectations for resumed talks, perspectives. See here also some views of / about rival plans.
12: Key Parts of Mediator's Report
(detailed March 24 cov. LPCI listing of Point on 10 most endangered is in Landmark and Preservation Status, Endangered listing. Visit Latest for dramatic happenings in July, 2004.)
- Task Force commentary on Endangered listing and by another Springfield participant
- April 7 Herald article and editorial on the rival plans, preservation, and Memorandum, and intro to Herald series by supporters of rival plans.
- Peter Rossi analysis of 1994 Memorandum of Agreement, meanings of preservation, and merits of the two plans; why City Compromise is superior. Herald, April 7
- Compromise Plan supporters letter April 14
- Task Force access and preservation architect explains character, intent of the Task Force Preservation Plan, why it's superior. Herald, April 14
- Compromise Group member asks Point supporters to weigh the alternative
- Two letters summarize relative advantages, disadvantages of the plans from structural and user perspectives- May 5
- Caveat on reports about the strength of concrete at Montrose
- Criticism of errors and misrepresentations by Task Force
- Preservation plan as a genuine compromise
Task Force commentary on 10 Most Endangered listing
Dear Friend of Promontory Point -
We are very happy to inform you that on Wednesday, March 24, Promontory Point was named one of Illinois' "Ten Most Endangered Historic Places" by the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois. This is the tenth annual list of threatened historic sites selected by the state's leading preservation organization. The listing is intended to focus statewide and national attention on endangered sites with important historic value and to rally public support for their preservation. In the past, sites such as the Farnsworth House and the Cook County Hospital Building have been listed. Of the over ninety historic places listed during the last decade only thirteen have been destroyed.
Although it is unfortunate that Promontory Point is truly threatened, the recognition and support of the Landmarks Preservation Council is crucial in the struggle to save the Point. A small group of Community Task Force members were present in Springfield on Wednesday for the public announcement and the press conference. While in Springfield we met with public officials, including Barack Obama and Barbara Flynn Currie, and thanked them for their continued support for preservation. We also met with officials at the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. This state agency is the preservation steward for Illinois, and it is charged with ensuring that the preservation requirements for Promontory Point are carried out. They stopped the Park District's "9-point plan" in 2002 because the plan failed to meet those requirements. They confirmed that any plan for the Point must meet the preservation standards of the 1993 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). This means, they explained, that there can be no visible steel and no visible concrete in the rehabilitated revetment, except for accessibility structures. The meeting was the strongest possible affirmation of the MOA and its guarantee of the preservation of the historic limestone revetment at Promontory Point.
Attached below is a copy of the article Herald article from March 24 about the "Most Endangered" listing. Articles from the Sun-Times and the Tribune, as well as a link to the Landmarks Preservation Council website, are posted at our website: www.savethepoint.org
We would like to thank the community for its strong support in the on-going struggle for the preservation of Promontory Point.
Community Task Force for Promontory Point
From the Hyde Park Herald March 24, 2004 Point named one of state's 10 most endangered sites
By Mike Stevens
The city proposal to pour two concrete steps at Promontory Point pushed the Hyde Park institution into the top 10 most endangered historic sites in the state, according to a preservation advocacy group.
Fearing city plans threaten "the historic nature of Chicago's lakefront," the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois (LPCI) announced that Promontory Point made its annual "Ten Most Endangered" list in Springfield, Ill. on Wednesday.
The Chicago-based group hopes the announcement will attract statewide attention for the preservation fight at the Point, said to LPCI spokesman Jennifer Gulotta Fisher.
"We hope to get the last push [towards preservation,]" said Fisher. The group also singled out 5th Ward Ald. Leslie Hairston for recognition.
"[Ald. Hairston] has been a tremendous support in the push for a preservation friendly solution," Fisher said.
Members of the Point Task Force, who made the downstate drive to the capitol, say the council's recognition gives the Point preservation battle a historical context. Other structures cited by the group over the years include the Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House, Cook County Hospital and Gerri's Palm Tavern on 47th Street. The latter pair made the list again this year.
The Federal Works Administration built Promontory Point into Lake Michigan in the mid-30's. Keeping with the Prairie School of landscape architecture, Alfred Caldwell's 1936 Point design used native plants and stone, including the existing limestone-block seawall.
"People are just starting to consider parks and landscape as preservable, worthy landmarks and this will help that process," said Task Force member Jack Spicer, who added "This puts the Point in the same lineage as the Robie House."
Efforts to save Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, now a Hyde Park icon, were led by former 5th Ward Ald. Leon Despres and preservation advocate Thomas Stauffer.
"We created the atmosphere that [tearing down Robie House] was an act of barbarism," the 93-year-old Despres said. Although he holds Wright in higher regard than Caldwell, Despres said the situation at the Point was similar.
"It should be there, it's a place of extraordinary beauty," said Despres.
By Jay Mulberry, participant in the March 24 meetings and announcements in Springfield: Cause for Encouragement
On Wednesday I went with Jack Spicer and Greg Lane to the Springfield press conference where the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois placed Promontory Point on its list of the ten most endangered historic sites. It was good to see the support we are getting from that organization.
Even more encouraging was a conversation we had afterwards with policy makers at the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. That is the official preservation agency of the state.
The agency officials stated without hesitation or ambiguity that there can only be one interpretation of the 1994 Memorandum of Agreement: that the Point's revetment must be done in limestone and in accordance with the early plans. Cement, steel, plastic or anything else can be used--but only if hidden beneath the limestone. The appearance of the Point must be as it was meant to be.
And--that is the law. The city cannot proceed with its plans without breaking the law and forfeiting $20,000,000 in federal assistance. The IHPA is in a position to enforce this law and is ready to do so.
[Of course, political forces may pressure the State to ignore the law. But it IS the law, and ignoring it would encourage a federal suit.]
Like me, you may at times have thought that our spokesmen have overstated our case. What spokesmen do not?
The meeting with IHPA convinced me that this is not so. If anything, we have taken a more moderate line than is justified by the facts.
You and I can all proceed with complete confidence and with full steam ahead to support the preservation of limestone at the point.
Hyde Park Herald: Local Point Group lobbies downstate for city proposal
April 7, 2004. By Mike Stevens
Over the past few weeks, the Promontory Point battle has moved downstate a a group of Hyde Parkers aligned with the city lobbied the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA), which is charged with signing off on plans for a revetment rehab at the popular park.
A group of Hyde Parkers who support the city's "compromise" plan sent a letter two weeks ago to the IHPA requesting its support. The state agency oversees the city's plan to replace the Point's limestone revetment-a plan that has angered many Hyde Parkers who prefer more limestone.
Though the group's leader Peter Rossi deflated the importance of the IHPA by calling it "advisory" in a recent e-mail (see letters page), he calls for the IHPA to examine the city's current plan and says he is confident that the city's current plan would pass federal muster.
Ann Hacker, the Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, said she could not comment on the city' plan because it has not been officially submitted. "We have not been presented that plan by the federal agency, so it is premature for us to consider [the city's current plan]," Hacker said.
But Hacker, who has read Rossi's e-mail, takes issue with many of his contentions. "I would consider our role more regulatory than advisory at this point...because the [Memorandum of Agreement] does give us review authority," said Hacker. "The MOA has the force of law...and that's what everybody agreed to to do. So we expect everybody to live up to their agreement."
Rossi began circulating an open letter to Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) some five weeks ago via le-mail urging her to accept the city's plan. The letter lists some 355 signatures so far, and represents fears that project funding will be lost because of delays and along with it compromises that city has made.
Another group of Hyde Parkers, the Point Task force, is advocating for a "preservation" plan and believe that he city's plan is flawed. "[Peter Rossi] is either seriously misinformed or he is trying to intentionally mislead the community," said task force spokesman Greg Lane.
Other people on the list remain concerned about lost dollars for the rehab. "Maybe this isn't 100 percent of what we want, but it's a lot," said Lauren Moltz, who signed the letter. "I don't think these names, these people should be dismissed." ...
[Ed. Omitted is discussion of propriety of using U of C letterhead. Mr. Rossi is a faculty member of the University.]
In other news, Point Task Force members plan to start fundraising to fill a diminished "war chest." But before an official announcement, the group has already collected $5,000, according to Lane. They hope to raise $30,000 by the end of April. "We need money for that final push. We need to show strength," Lane said.
Any money that remains after a compromise will roll over into a "peace chest" to fund a Promontory Point conservancy group that would act as stewards of the park, according to Lane.
Point rehab plans: compare and contrast
A Herald editorial, April 7, 2004
A quarrel has erupted between some Hyde Parkers over the best way to to rehab the revetments at Promontory Point. While the city's plan to pave over the Point's appealing limestone steps with a wall of concrete and steel was met with a united cry of disgust from residents three years ago, more recently the city's latest 'Compromise Plan' has earned the support of a group of Hyde Parkers. The group has launched an active campaign lobbying for support of the city's current plan, which features two concrete steps and a concrete promenade. Another group, called the Community Task Force, which has been negotiating with the city for the last seven months, is in favor of a plan that calls for a greater use of limestone and less concrete and visible steel. The two plans, for the sake of simplicity, have been dubbed the 'compromise' plan and the 'preservation' plan.
The Herald has been clear in its support of the Task Force's preservation plan, which we believe is better looking, more convenient, and truer to those elements--intangible and tangible--that make the Point one of the city's most popular parks. But the newspaper is devoted to helping readers make the most informed decision possible. so we will spend the next few weeks publishing aspects of both plans, as presented by their supporters. Below are artists' renderings of the two proposals, which attempt to catch the spirit, if not the technical engineering, of each.
E-mail by Peter Rossi re: 1994 Memorandum of Agreement, meanings and applications of "preservation," Point listing on the 10 most endangered list, and the relative properties and merits of the city and task force plans.
Note. This version has been altered to conform with that appearing in the Hyde Park Herald April 7. Some material not in the Herald letter has been left, in parentheses. See also Mr. Rossi's comments (and a counter view) in conjunctions with sketches of rival plan (sections of the Point) in Latest. Following is the April 14 version of the group's general letter.
(To Those Concerned About the Future of the Point:
There is a debate in our community as to how to best repair the Point revetment.) We support the Compromise Plan to repair and Preserve the Point revetment. This plan reuses all existing limestone, restores the Caldwell landscaping, and provides excellent water access. (See http://www.cityofchicago.org/Environment/Shoreline/54thto57thUpdate.html for details. The executive committee of the Point Task Force opposes this Compromise Plan.) There has been much discussion in the Herald and other venues about a Memorandum of Agreement" and preservation goals. The purpose of this letter is to provide information about these two important topics.
The “Memorandum of Agreement” between the Army Corps of Engineers and various City/State agencies does not require the reconstruction of the Point revetment as a duplicate of the original construction nor does it require the use of limestone. The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) has approved all existing and on-going revetment reconstruction. This construction is 100 percent concrete.
The MOA has not been held legally binding in any court of law. There are no federal or state laws that require reconstruction of the Point revetment in limestone.
(The Compromise Plan, that we support, contains significant elements of preservation in that it reuses all existing limestone and restores the Caldwell-designed landscaping. The Compromise Plan has not yet been reviewed by any public or private preservation agency.)
Advocates should be more specific about what exactly preservation means for the Point revetment. Some advocates contend that the Compromise Plan with 2 steps of limestone and a concrete promenade is not a “preservation” plan, but a plan with four steps of limestone and a concrete promenade is a “preservation” plan. Rather than abusing the term preservation, advocates should discuss the merits and faults of proposed plans.
The Memorandum of Agreement
In the early 1980s, the Army Corps of Engineers proposed that the shoreline revetments in Chicago be repaired by construction of a “rubble mound” revetment. This would amount to dumping large quantities of blasted stone along our shoreline. The City, Park District and many parks advocacy groups were appalled at this proposal which would have destroyed the beauty of our lake front and denied access to the water.
After 10 years of discussion and argument, an agreement was formed between the City and the Corps. This agreement sought to replace the rubble mound with a step-like revetment more similar to the existing structures. The City and Park District agreed to pay for the difference between the more expensive step-like revetment and the rubble mound proposal. A “Memorandum of Agreement” was drafted and can be viewed at the following link: http://gsbwww.uchicago.edu/fac/peter.rossi/more/MOA.htm
Much has been made of paragraphs 2a, which states that:
“Where the effect consists of the repair or reconstruction of contributing step stone revetment, the Corps shall consult with the SHPO [State Historic Preservation Officer], the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District to ensure that the design and construction of the revetment will match the existing in accordance with the recommendations of the Secretary of the Interior’s ‘Standards and Guidelines for Archeology and Historic Preservation.'”
Paragraph 2a does not specify that the reconstructed revetments must be made of limestone. What it does require is a process by which the SHPO is consulted (note the SHPO serves an advisory, not regulatory, role) in the design of new or reconstructed revetments. This process has been followed in all of the existing and ongoing revetment reconstruction. This construction is 100 percent concrete and does not contain any limestone. The SHPO has agreed to these construction plans.
See http://gsbwww.uchicago.edu/fac/peter.rossi/more/IHPA_letters.htm. (These letters were obtained after requests were submitted to the City and Park District and the IHPA).
The original 100 percent concrete plan for Promontory Point was also submitted for review by the IHPA. In a letter dated 6/21/02 (note that the Compromise Plan did not exist at this time as it was proposed in August of 2003), the deputy SHPO stated the original concrete plan for Promontory Point “does not meet The Secretary of the Interior Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings.” http://gsbwww.uchicago.edu/fac/peter.rossi/more/IHPA_old_Point_plan_letter.htm
The IHPA did not explain why they have reversed their previous views that concrete revetments do conform to these guidelines. These guidelines (see footnote 1 below) make no specific recommendations regarding materials or design features. Most importantly, the IHPA has not reviewed the Compromise Plan for the Point.
The wording in the MOA is sufficiently broad as to permit a range of reconstruction plans. There is no doubt that the Compromise Plan that we support is feasible under the MOA. When presented to the IHPA, we expect that the Compromise Plan will be viewed as conforming to the MOA. We have sent the IHPA a letter urging them to consider this plan seriously, see http://gsbwww.uchicago.edu/fac/peter.rossi/more/letter_to_ihpa.htm.
Preservation and the Point
To preserve means to “retain intact.” From a purely technical point of view, no proposals for the Point revetment reconstruction are “preservation” proposals. That is, all proposals require temporary removal of the limestone blocks and reconstruction of the substructure on which the current limestone blocks rest. It is not the limestone blocks but this substructure which has failed or is in need of repair. All sides recognize that it would not be feasible or even advisable to attempt a reconstruction of the Point revetment as a duplicate of what was built in the late 1930s.
An advocate cannot simply proclaim that a particular proposal is a “preservation” proposal while another is not. The debate must focus on the particulars of each proposal. For example, the executive committee of the Point Task Force has called their plan a “preservation” plan and claimed that the Compromise Plan is not. Both plans include a mixture of steel, concrete and limestone (ironically, the only true preservation in any plan is the Point Task Force plan to preserve the existing concrete promenade at the tip of the Point, an area dubbed “the coffins” by Point users who have found it forbidding and ugly).
Recently, the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois put the Point on their “10 most endangered list.” This private non-profit organization seeks to promote preservation of structures of historical and architectural significance. The Council cited as its reason that the Point’s “limestone-block seawall is threatened by a plan to replace it with a steel-and-concrete revetment.” The Compromise Plan is not a “steel-and-concrete” revetment. It contains all existing limestone as well as steel and concrete just as the Point Task Force. We call upon the Council to give serious consideration to the Compromise Plan.
In the discussion over preservation, we should not lose sight of the fact that the Point revetment is a structure used by people to access the water. We fought long and hard for a stipulation that the promenade would not be built above a certain height (+5 LWD). We are extremely concerned about recent statements that consider raising the height of the promenade by as much as 5 feet in order to allow for all limestone steps (see the report of engineers meeting 1/12/04, http://thepoint.invisibleinstitute.com/011204_engineer.html). In addition, some members of the Point Task Force have pointed to an old design (prototype IV, House Document 103-302 [103d Congress, 2d Session], plate 36) which has the promenade made of concrete at 5 feet higher than the Compromise Plan (+10 LWD). This would wrap a steel wall around the Point denying access to the water.
It is vitally important that Hyde Parkers have all of the relevant information on an issue as important as the Point to our community.
Therese Allen-Vassar, Kay Clement, Beth Fama, Lauren Moltz and Peter Rossi
1 The Secretary of the Interior's “Standards and Guidelines for Archeology and Historic Preservation” are available at: http://www.cr.nps.gov/local-law/arch_stnds_0.htm. The summary given there states: “This notice sets forth the Secretary of the Interior's Standards and Guidelines for Archeology and Historic Preservation. These standards and guidelines are not regulatory and do not set or interpret agency policy (emphasis added). They are intended to provide technical advice about archeological and historic preservation activities and methods.” These standards are mostly about the process rather than the specifics of what constitutes preservation.
April 14 'Compromise Plan Group' (Rossi) general letter
Hyde Park Herald, April 14, 2004. (letter left untitled by Herald)
The Compromise Plan for rebuilding the Point revetment is a good plan, and worthy of community support. It reuses all of the existing limestone, restores the Caldwell landscaping, and provides excellent water access. The Compromise Plan is aesthetically pleasing, with limestone or textured surfaces and reduced size as compared to the new revetment constructed between 54th and 51st streets. As for water access, the Compromise Plan provides two three-hundred-foot long access points, with limestone blocks as stepstones into the water. Under the plan, the Point will have an officially sanctioned open-water swimming area for the first time in its history. Funding for the Compromise Plan is available, because the City, the Park District, and the Army Corps of Engineers have agreed to it. The "Preservation" Plan endorsed by the Point Task Force is so far not fundable. Both the Army Corps and city agencies have reviewed the PTF plan, found it to have serious engineering flaws, and are no longer considering it...Federal funding for the shoreline improvement project is scheduled to run out in 2005. Time is, in fact, running out.
At least 356 community members ant the Point rebuilt according to the Compromise Plan, not just to make it safer and more attractive for our own enjoyment, but to make sure it survives for future generation., which is, after all, the real meaning of the word "preservation." Anyone who would like to add his or her name to the letter that supports the Compromise Plan should email email@example.com.
For the most accurate and comprehensive information about the Compromise Plan, e urge the Herald to contact the City directly and report the results of their inquiries.
For information on the Compromise Plan, please visit the City's web site: www.cityofchicago.org/Environment/Shoreline/54thto57thUpdate.html
Preserving the Point's character as a historic site. By Task Force access and preservation architect Frank Heitzman
This preservation plan is nearly identical to the preferred approach as proposed by the Park District in 1989. This approach was recommended by the Corps of Engineers in their 1993 document entitled "Shoreline Reconstruction Plans for Chicago."
"Step stone revetments provide easy and safe access to the water's edge and are relatively maintenance free. Every year millions of visitors bike, jog, sun bathe, run, fish, picnic, and relax atop their large capstones (large smooth cut stones used to create steps). It is the preferred system of shore protection in deep water areas." One cannot get much more unambiguous than that in making a case for preservation!
...the so-called "compromise plan," a hybrid design of new concrete and rebuilt stone. This scheme is not a preservation plan in any sense of the word, and will not receive the necessary approval...
Historic Preservation is not as simplistic as retaining historic resources intact... the goal [is] protecting the visible substance, and improving the longevity of the resource. The outward form, the character of the materials, and the integrity of the cultural object are "saved" from irreparable transformation. If a major portion of the character-defining elements of a resource are replaced with something else, or concealed, the resource would be considered to have lost integrity and would no longer evoke the sense of time and place essential to the historic period. Generally accepted preservation theory is first, maintain; second repair; third, restore; and fourth, only as a last resort, replicate missing portions of the resource.
There are a multitude of differing conditions around the perimeter of the Point. In proposing a preservation plan, we have recommended replacement of some parts, repair of some, and conservation of others. At the same time, we have introduced innovative thinking in integration and broadening accessibility for persons with disabilities without destroying the integrity of the historic resource.
The compromise plan, by contrast, does significantly change the appearance and visible character of the revetment. We believe that it will also change the function by making it much more difficult to to get down to the water's edge.
....retention of the concrete platform at the eastern edge of the Point... exemplifies application of sound conservation principles....a historic attempt to harden the edge, while retaining the original structure. It has structural integrity and continues to work...Its contextual existence, in fact, heightens the aesthetic impact of the limestone steps...These types of changes over time which have developed historic character in themselves also tell an important story about our manmade efforts to tame the shoreline. Preservation of the unique engineering system at the Point in its totality is just as important as preserving Robie House or any other historic resource in Chicago.
Hyde Park Herald, April 14,2004.
My name is Frank Heitzman. I am an architect who has built a career in preserving historic structures throughout Illinois, and the former co-chair of the Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Committee. In 1988 and 1989 I was a consultant to the Chicago Park District to formulate the Park District's "preferred approach" for preserving and enhancing the entire Lake Michigan shoreline as a counter to the Corps of Engineer's then-recommended rubble fill design. I am currently working with the Promontory Point Task Force to develop a preservation plan for the Point. This preservation plan is nearly identical to the preferred approach as proposed by the Park District in 1989. It is viewable at www.savethepoint.org. The locally preferred plan, both then and now, is to temporarily remove the step stones, install new piling, backfill and then replace the step stones where they were. This approach was recommended by the Corps of Engineers in their 1993 document entitled "Shoreline Reconstruction Plans for Chicago." I was heartened to see that the Corps had used our own drawings, photographs and concepts in their 1993 proposal to make a successful argument for major federal funding of the project. The Corps' document states clearly on page 3, "...the [Corps of Engineers] report recommends construction of the locally preferred step stone plan which maintains full use of the lakefront." On page 8 of their document, they state under a beautiful photograph of the Chicago shoreline crowded with users: "Step stone revetments provide easy and safe access to the water's edge and are relatively maintenance free. Every year millions of visitors bike, jog, sun bathe, run, fish, picnic, and relax atop their large capstones (large smooth cut stones used to create steps). It is the preferred system of shore protection in deep water areas." One cannot get much more unambiguous than that in making a case for preservation!
Because of the then-seemingly settled concept of step-stone preservation, I was amazed to find out that the city in recent years had changed its attitude on this issue, and instead of continuing to support the 1993 "locally-preferred plan" it now proposes new construction in dull poured-in-place concrete all along the lakefront--a civil engineer's dream but an architect's nightmare. This leads me to respond to the so-called "compromise plan," a hybrid design of new concrete and rebuilt stone. This scheme is not a preservation plan in any sense of the word, and will not receive the necessary approval of the State Historic Preservation Officer. Historic Preservation is not as simplistic as retaining historic resources intact, as was stated in a letter published in the Herald last week. In any historic preservation endeavor, there is a wide array of possible measures that can be taken, all of which lead to the goal of protecting the visible substance, and improving the longevity of the resource. For example, in the case of the ongoing preservation efforts at Robie House, new roof supports were inserted to meet current structural requirements. Although this work was intrusive to the historic fabric, it did not alter the roof's appearance, since none of the new structure is visible to the public, and it will assure the long term viability of this masterpiece of 20th century architecture. Commonly, the word "save" is used in conjunction with preservation projects. The outward form, the character of the materials, and the integrity of the cultural object are "saved" from irreparable transformation. If a major portion of the character-defining elements of a resource are replaced with something else, or concealed, the resource would be considered to have lost integrity and would no longer evoke the sense of time and place essential to the historic period. Generally accepted preservation theory is first, maintain; second repair; third, restore; and fourth, only as a last resort, replicate missing portions of the resource.
There are a multitude of differing conditions around the perimeter of the Point. In proposing a preservation plan, we have recommended replacement of some parts, repair of some, and conservation of others. At the same time, we have introduced innovative thinking in integration and broadening accessibility for persons with disabilities without destroying the integrity of the historic resource. The provision of new structural underpinning of the limestone blocks in no way changes the appearance of the original design which is the chief goal of the preservation scheme. The compromise plan, by contrast, does significantly change the appearance and visible character of the revetment. We believe that it will also change the function by making it much more difficult to to get down to the water's edge.
The Task Force's preservation plan recommends the retention of the concrete platform at the eastern edge of the Point. It exemplifies application of sound conservation principles. This section of the Point receives the most impact from hydraulic energy. It was repaired 40 years ago by the same engineer at the Park District who was involved in the original construction of the Point, using an inventive wave deflection system. This design reveals a historic attempt to harden the edge, while retaining the original structure. It has structural integrity and continues to work as it was designed with no maintenance for over 40 years. It would be wasteful from both an energy conservation and financial standpoint to rip it out and replace it with new but unremarkable concrete. Its contextual existence, in fact, heightens the aesthetic impact of the limestone steps which surround it and remain behind it. These types of changes over time which have developed historic character in themselves also tell an important story about our manmade efforts to tame the shoreline. Preservation of the unique engineering system at the Point in its totality is just as important as preserving Robie House or any other historic resource in Chicago.
The Point has a multitude of differing conditions around its perimeter. We recommend replacing some parts, repairing some and conserving others while integrating and broadening accessibility for persons with disabilities. The locally preferred plan is to temporarily remove the step stones, install new piling, backfill and then replace the step stones where they were. In the Community Task Force plan, structural reinforcements of the limestone blocks do not change the appearance of the original design. The "compromise" plan, by contrast, significantly changes the appearance and visible character of the revetment, and makes it much more difficult to get down to the water's edge. If a major portion of the character-defining elements of a resource are replaced with something else, or concealed, the resource would be considered to have lost its integrity. The provision of new structural underpinning of the limestone blocks in no way changes the appearance of the original design, which is the chief goal of the preservation scheme. The compromise plan, by contrast, does not significantly change the appearance and visible character of the revetment. We believe that it will also change the function by making it much more difficult to get down to the water's edge....
pro Compromise Plan group member: Point supporters need to consider the alternatives
Hyde Park Herald, April 22, 2004. By Elizabeth Fama
Do you have a "Save the Point" bumper sticker on your car? If so, you should study the Point Task Force Plan, which is the plan you're endorsing. The you should study the alternative Compromise Plan, which more coherently revitalizes the shape, structure and water access of the Point.
I admire the energy and commitment of the Point Task Force, but there are aspects of their plan (nicknamed the "Preservation Plan" by the Herald) that seem widely misunderstood.
1) It is not an all-limestone, plan. The Preservation Plan involves a mixed use of concrete and limestone, just a the Compromise Plan does.
2) It retains the ugly, concrete "coffin" section that wraps the northeast end of the Point.
3) It leaves relatively undisturbed--with some grouting and shoring up--the deteriorated south side of the Point. By contrast, the Compromise Plan is a comprehensive rebuilding of the entire Point revetment, with the top two steps in limestone, and limestone in the water to hide the steel supports.
4) In the Preservation Plan, water access is limited to narrow concrete stairs and a concrete ramp: only a few people can enter and exit the water at one time. The Compromise Plan includes two 300-foot sections of limestone blocks descending into the water on the north and south. The Compromise Plan also includes a written promise from the City to sanction deep-water swimming.
5)The Preservation Pan is not pure "preservation." It rebuilds the north side of the point, making large design changes, in part to provide universal access. It embeds a "strip" of concrete down the middle of the promenade, it provides concrete ramps for wheelchair access, and several flights of concrete stairs.
6) The City and the Army Corps of Engineers have studied and rejected the Preservation Plan, whereas they have agreed to the Compromise Plan.
Inform yourself about the two plans, so that you can choose what to support and reject. Please look at the following web sites: Point Task Force Plan: http://www.savethepoint.org/prop200303/index.html.
Compromise Plan: http://www.cityofchicago.org/Environment/Shoreline/54thto57thUpdate.html.
Two letters summarize relative advantages, disadvantages of the plans from structural and user perspectives- May 5
City's Point plan a best shot at preservation. By Theresa Allen Vassar
Hyde Park Herald, May 5, 2003
Picnics at the fire rings, swimming during scorching Chicago summers, watching crashing waves in stormy weather, celebrating Memorial Day, countless biking expeditions: These are just a few of the memories that I associate with Promontory Point. Having raised three children in Hyde Park, I have spent many hours enjoying the beautiful scenery and camaraderie of the Point. Not only is the Point associated with many existing happy memories, I also want it to be the site of many new ones. I plan to take my grandchildren there someday to cook out, swim, and watch the lake. It's one of the places that makes Hyde Park such a great place to live.
I think that many people share these fond feelings for the Point, and therefore emotions run high when there is talk of changing it in any way. I myself have followed the planning process with great concern. I was horrified at the idea of wrapping the point in tall concrete steps and creating a sterile environment that would prove inhospitable and essentially ruin the Point's natural beauty.
I supported efforts to preserve the limestone. A few months ago, I learned in detail about the Compromise proposed by the City of Chicago. I examined it and decided to support it. I wanted to share my thoughts about why I support the Compromise Plan.
1) It is attractive. I've seen the drawings at http://www.cityofchicago.org/Environment/Shoreline/54thto57thUpdate.html and I really like the proposed look! The design uses a combination of real limestone and concrete that is cast to look like limestone. I wanted a design that preserves the "wildness" of the Point, and I think that the design in the Compromise Plan achieves those goals.
2) It reuses the existing salvageable limestone. The limestone at the Point now wouldn't go to waste. It would be reused and would remain part of the Point's natural charm. I think it's very important in the concrete sections to simulate the limestone carefully, so that the the concrete doesn't look fake. Perhaps we could see samples of cast concrete to get a better idea of what it would look like. I have seen simulated stone in other buildings and it is quite convincing. Of course, I would love to have all limestone. However, practical considerations make it necessary to use some concrete and steel. Efforts have been made to hide these materials and I think that improvements could still be made to the plan. Our community should work with the city to refine the Compromise Plan.
3) It is consistent. The Compromise Plan would replace the entire revetment, including the ugly coffin structure at the tip of the Point. It would also repair the South side of the Point (see website above). The South side now has ugly and dangerous steel rails and pilings jutting up at the edge of the rocks. The alterative Point Task force preserves the "coffin" section.
4) It provides water access and disability access. Since our home doesn't have air conditioning, the Point is a refuge for our family. We come out to swim in the heat and spend refreshing moments at the water's edge. Of course, we are joined by large numbers of swimmers who throng the rocks. I was pleased to see that swimming access is a major feature of the Compromise Plan, both off the rocks and from the 57th Street beach. I also want the Point to be available to all, and the Compromise Plan provides excellent disability access.
5) It restores the original Caldwell landscaping. The landscape at the Point is part of its beauty. As part of the Compromise Plan, the city has offered to put in hundreds of plantings to bring back the original landscaping.
6) It is engineered to last a long time. The Compromise Plan has been approved by engineering experts. I want to pass on a great space to my children and this plan offers the best chance that the Point will be around far in the future for them to enjoy.
Beauty is in the numbers. By Bruce Johnstone
Hyde Park Herald. May 5, 2004
There is no question that the future of the Point is of great concern to this community. We don't want to lose the wonderful character that the limestone revetments give this park.
Does the city's current proposed plan respect this character and preserve enough of the setting we all love, or will its plan convert the Point's shoreline into another sterile, barren, lifeless concrete structure like others built along the lakefront? The answer is in the ratio of concrete to stone.
The already completed structures along the lakefront, with their various stone texturing, offer accurate previews of the concrete sections proposed for the Point. Anyone can look and see that the concrete looks nothing like stone, regardless of the texturing. Likewise, our stone gives an accurate view of limestone and it looks nothing like concrete.
Simple fact: The more concrete used, the less it will resemble our existing stone revetment. How much stone replace by concrete is a reasonable compromise?
A reasonable preservation compromise will provide access for persons with disabilities, add modern structural components and provide water access with no exposed steel at the water's edge. This can be done with 70 percent stone and 30 percent concrete.
The city's current plan offers the following proportions:
Revetment structure (promenade and steps)
North and East visible surfaces = 80 percent concrete, 20 percent stone.
South side visible surfaces = 75 percent concrete, 25 percent stone.
Stone placed in the water covers less than 15 percent of the Point's shoreline.
Although it is gracious for the city to offer a 20 to 25 percent stone rebate in their proposal, their plan is far, far, far, from maintaining a beautiful setting similar to what is currently at The Point.
Peter Rossi e-mailed in May the following comments by Beth Fama, a supporter of the Compromise city plan, on Tribune and Herald coverage of concerns about the strength of concrete at the Montrose seawall as shown in batch tests. That coverage was noted but not presented in this website. Mr. Rossi sets forth the reasons such incomplete reports should be viewed with caution.
A recent editorial in the Hyde Park Herald created the impression that the new concrete revetment at Montrose Point has failed, and is too weak to hold back waves. The editorial was based on an April 24th article in the Chicago Tribune. In fact, the Tribune amended its article on April 27th in the "Corrections and Clarifications" column, saying, "A headline in Saturday's main news section regarding the possible replacement of the lake wall at Montrose Harbor incorrectly said that the cement of the wall is too weak to hold back the waves. Spot tests of the concrete poured at the site showed some of the material may not be able to withstand the waves, but
more tests have been requested."
Here are the undramatized facts: two of the cylinders of sample concrete poured at the same time as the 3/4-mile Montrose section failed the 5,000 lbs-per-square-inch stress test. As a result, the Army Corps of Engineers has requested more tests of the revetment itself, and if the concrete in fact does not meet its high standards at any location, the contractor will have to replace that section of the revetment at his cost.
This event is an optimistic piece of news, not pessimistic: the contractors are being held to strict specifications regarding their materials and workmanship. In the end, the longevity of the new revetment will probably depend more on sound engineering and quality control of inputs and labor than on the choice of concrete versus limestone.
Peter Rossi wrote these cautions about stated and reported misrepresentations and claims by Task Force members or others.
Reader finds Compromise Plan remarks misleading
Hyde Park Herald, May 12, 2004. By Peter Rossi
For the past several months, members of our community have been evaluating and debating different proposals for rebuilding the Point revetment. This discussion is a healthy part of any community decision. However, a number of misleading statements regarding the Compromise Plan (proposed by the City and supported by a letter from 361 Hyde Parkers) have been made.
Members of the Point Task Force have consistently referred to the Compromise Plan as a "concrete/steel" plan. The Compromise Plan does include concrete and steel but it also preserves and reuses all of the existing limestone blocks. The Point Task Force plan includes steel piling and significant amounts of concrete. Advocates for the Point Task Force Plan have claimed that the Compromise Plan is a duplicate of the new revetment built from 54th to 51st Streets. This is not correct. In recent fundraising letters and e-mails, the Point Task Force referred to the Compromise Plan as a "demolition plan." Both the Compromise Plan and the Task Force Plan require that much of the current revetment be dismantled and rebuilt.
A Point Task Force spokesman has been quoted in the press as claiming that city officials have lied to the community and are violating federal law by proposing the Compromise Plan. However the spokesman did not specify exactly what statements are "lies" or exactly what federal statute is allegedly violated by the Compromise Plan.
In a letter to the Herald and in flyers distributed at local businesses, a Point Task Force member has contended that advocates for the Compromise Plan have written the Illinois Historical Preservation Agency asking that the "landmark status of the Point revetment be revoked." This is not true. Members of the Point Task Force, along with more than 850 Hyde Parkers, received an e-mail from our group that described this letter and provided a link to the original document (our group simply asked the IHPA to consider the Compromise Plan). This same Task Force member contends that I am working on behalf of the University of Chicago and that I do not represent any community constituency. I am employed by the University of Chicago, but I am working independently of the university and on behalf of the 361 Hyde Parkers who have signed a letter in support of the Compromise Plan.
Various proposals for the rebuilding of the Point should be evaluated on the basis of facts. Attempts to distort the facts and misleading or untrue statements have no place in this process.
Point preservation plan a genuine compromise
Hyde Park Herald, May 12, 2004. By the Task Force Executive Committee-Fred Blum, Bruce Johnstone, Jack Spicer, Connie Spreen
The passionate, and seemingly endless, controversy over the future of Promontory Point proves at least ne thing--this community loves the Point. This park has become our town square and symbolizes the way we see ourselves--diverse, quirky, welcoming and beautiful.
If tomorrow, the City proposed a plan for the Point that:
- was affordable
- was built to last
- was beautiful
- kept to limestone steps and promenade
- had great swimming access
- offered broad access for persons with disabilities and
- restored the Caldwell landscape,
we think the community would accept this plan in a minute.
The community Task Force preservation plan does all that. And a preservation plan would be legal, fundable an a genuine compromise. The City's current plan is not.
During the past month, the City's two-step plan has come to be referred to as "the compromise plan." To call the City's plan "the compromise plan" is to suggest that the community has not incorporated compromises into its preservation plan. In fact, the community has compromised much more than the City has up to this point. The compromises that the community has made, in the form of adding structurally unnecessary steel sheet-piling and a concrete substructure on the promenade, have added an additional $17 million to the original preservation plan. These compromises far outweigh the two steps of limestone that the City has integrated into its otherwise all-concrete plan.
To designate the City's two-step plan as a "compromise plan" is also to create the illusion that the City is to some degree embracing preservation. It is not. Two steps of limestone do not constitute preservation, by any standards, and particularly by the standards in force here: the U. S. Secretary of Interior's Standards. The legally binding and federally enforceable Memorandum of Agreement sign ed by the City requires preservation at Promontory Point according to these standards. While preservation can assume a variety of forms, the City's two-step plan is not one of them.
In order for the City to obtain federal funding for this project, it must put forward a preservation plan. That is the law. The longer the City continues to stall by advancing false claims--such as the lack of limestone, the impossibility of engineering a limestone revetment, the cost of maintenance, etc.--the more likely it is that the federal funding will indeed disappear.
The only meaningful compromise that the City can make is the one that embraces the principle of preservation. It is also the only type of compromise plan in conformity with the Memorandum of Agreement and therefore the only type of plan that will bring the federal funds to our community. The Community Task Force remains willing to work with the city toward creating a compromise plan, but the compromises must be legal and have real meaning.
It is clear that this community is united in its passion for Promontory Point. We hope that the City is equally passionate in its respect for this community, for the beauty and historic value of the Point and for the law.
Top with series navigation
Previous (#9 March 9 summit, tasks for April 15 final report). Point Latest News