Point documents January-February 2004
re: the breakdown of talks (2003-4 series #7)

The Point home and subpages. www.SaveThePoint.org site incl. plans
City/Dept. of Environment site with city plan updates
Point Wkg Group (Mediator's) website: www.thepoint.invisibleinstitute.com.

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.

Mid-2003-March 2004 Series:
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 Jan 28 2004
4: September 10 public briefing and summary
5: Reports of the Mediator on the Working Group meetings

6: Reports and Appeals March-December 2003
7: [This page:] Reports, Appeals, Press from Jan.-Feb. breakdown period, incl. Mediator's Statement
8: Point dispute-statements-coverage-Rossi 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
11: Latest Promontory Point news, Expectations for resumed talks, perspectives
12: Key parts of the Mediator's Final Report of May, 2004

Here:

 

Letters to the Herald can be read in their entirety at www.hpherald.com/pointletters022504.pdf.


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A little background

January 7, Park District General Superintendent David Doig announced his resignation effective January 30. He was said to be working with the mediator to reach a good design resolution with the Task Force. It was the sincerest hope of the Task Force and of HPKCC that this work would continue to resolution during the time he remained and that, if it is not, the momentum would continue.

The Task Force received an additional $5,000 grant, on top of $30,000, from Driehaus Foundation, this grant for final preparations for the the peer review face off on engineering before the mediator, to determine if limestone is indeed the feasible basis for Point revetment reconstruction. That turned out to be the last issue to be resolved in meetings between the Task Force and the Shoreline Protection Team (Army Corps, city, Park District). It was the DOE especially that remained to be convinced.

Then, the Engineering peer review showdown took place, with engineers indicating willingness to think in terms of a preservation solution. The Working Group met January 21 and 28 to review the Mediator's and his engineer's recommendation and set up a process to resolve cost and maintenance issues. The following material recounts the subsequent breakdown, with some subtle differences. After the cessation of talks, the Herald issued blistering editorials and printed several articles (some stating in careful detail their reasons and feelings) from residents, generally strongly in favor of the limestone plan but with one (at that time) which was co-signed (less a small number of retractors) by c. 348.
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Statement of Mediator Jamie Kalven to the Task Force, Feb. 6 2004

Jack: My statement is attached. I had drafted it before I received the Task Force statement. I reconsidered it, in light of the approach the Task Force is taking and decided to let it stand. This is what I can say as mediator. It reflects my understanding of how the process played out and of what the possibilities are for moving forward. This statement is probably too late to go into The Herald this week. I called Mike Stevens a couple of times on Friday but didn't reach him. In any case, I have sent it to them. We will post it on the website. And I assume you will send it to your list. As ever, Jamie
February 9, 2004

On January 28, 2004, the Promontory Point Working Group held its final meeting. At this meeting, Working Group members acknowledged they had reached an impasse and agreed to an interim resolution. The purpose of this statement is to describe, from my perspective as mediator, the nature of the impasse and the implications of the interim resolution.

The final sequence of steps in the mediation process unfolded under intense time pressures created by the resignation of Chicago Park District Superintendent David Doig, effective January 30, and the City's stated desire to bring the process to closure in order to make decisions regarding 2004 funding of shoreline projects.

On January 12, a long-awaited meeting of engineers occurred: the City's engineers for the Promontory Point project, William Walton and William Weaver of STS Consultants, met with Dr. Charles Shabica, consultant to the Community Task Force, and Wayne Brunzell, a structural engineer who serves as my technical advisor. This four hour meeting was seen by all as a significant step toward a single unified design process. On January 16, Mr. Brunzell and I issued a report on the engineers meeting. On January 21, the Working Group met to discuss the report on the engineers' meeting. At this meeting, it was decided that the STS engineers, working in close consultation with Dr. Shabica and Mr. Brunzell, would generate a report reviewing design options for the benefit of Superintendent Doig, Commissioner Marcia Jimenez of the Department of Environment, and the Working Group as a whole. The primary focus of this report was to be on the relative costs for construction and maintenance of the different options.

When the Working Group convened on January 28, it was apparent that Dr. Shabica and Mr. Brunzell had not had an opportunity to engage in substantive discussion with Mr. Weaver and Mr. Walton. It is thus important that the record show that the STS report is a unilateral document; it does not arise out of the mediation process.

I emphasize this piece of unfinished business, because I have no doubt the engineers could have a constructive discussion of relative costs that would help clarify the options and advance the process. That discussion, however, has not yet taken place. Peripheral issues have been stripped away and questions of cost have been sharply focused, but those questions have not been subjected to the sort of open, collegial scrutiny exemplified by the January 12 meeting of engineers.

On the basis of the STS cost projections, Superintendent Doig stated that the City would recommend the option that it originally proposed last August, which incorporates limestone on the upper two revetment steps but not on the lower two steps or the promenade.

Superintendent Doig asked whether the Community Task Force would support this "design framework." Task Force members replied that this was a question they were not empowered by the community to answer. They emphasized that they saw their role as insuring a design process in which the community was adequately represented. They also stated that, in their view, the community would reject the two-step plan.

Doig indicated that if the community was not able to accept the recommended plan, then an impasse had been reached. He made clear that there would be two consequences of this:

1. The project would be tabled for 2004, and the funding earmarked for the Point in 2004 would be redirected to other shoreline projects.

2. The burden would now shift to the community to come to the City with clear support for an acceptable plan.

Amid expressions of mutual respect for one another, Working Group members agreed to the interim resolution of declaring the process at an impasse and tabling the project in 2004.

Since the January 28 meeting, I have been repeatedly asked several questions. I want to take this occasion to answer those questions as best I can from my perspective as mediator.

What is the status of funding for the Point?

The City has entered into an agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers under which funding for the Point in 2004 has been redirected to other shoreline projects. It has expressed a clear commitment to move the project forward in 2005, if agreement is reached on a consensus design. It has also indicated that it is prepared to permanently remove the Point from the Shoreline Project, if substantial agreement is not reached.

Has the City given the community a "take it or leave it" ultimatum with respect to the two-step plan?

Superintendent Doig said that "the burden" has now shifted to the community to come to the City with an "acceptable" design. The two-step design would obviously be such a plan, but nothing said at the January 28 Working Group meeting or in subsequent communications from City officials suggests that it is the only acceptable plan. Such an interpretation would, in my view, flatly contradict both the spirit and substance of the Working Group process. As one City official put it, if there is broad community support for a design that is viable and within budget, "the door is open."

Has the City abandoned the mediation process?

It was understood from the outset that the mediation process was time-bound, that it was not open-ended. The initial expectation of City officials, acknowledged, though not explicitly agreed to by the Task Force, was that the process would come to closure by October 1. Due both to unexpected delays and to the vitality and promise of the process, it extended four months beyond October 1.

The January 28 meeting closed one phase of the ongoing effort of the community and the City to develop the best possible plan for the preservation and restoration of Promontory Point. The interim resolution of tabling the project in 2004 provides more time to work toward that end.

What has been accomplished by the mediation process?

From my perspective as mediator in continuous conversation with both parties, I know how very close the Working Group came to agreement on design and to institutionalizing forms of ongoing collaboration between the community and the City. The fact that we didn't quite get there shouldn't be allowed to obscure what was accomplished. The Working Group delineated areas of agreement. It resolved a number of issues. The issues that remain open, notably the cost of construction and maintenance of alternative designs, have been sharply framed and are ripe for resolution. In the process, good working relationships have been built and lines of communication have been established.

The assets yielded by the mediation process are resources for the future. They are also fragile. They require continued joint stewardship by the parties. If such care is exercised, they can provide the foundation for the next phase in developing a consensus plan for Promontory Point. If it is not, the ground gained over the last six months will quickly erode.

Jamie Kalven

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From: The Hyde Park Herald, February 4, 2004

Point talks collapse as Doig leaves park district
By Mike Stevens

Two days before Chicago Park District chief David Doig resigned, negotiations collapsed between city and Hyde Park representatives trying to work out a compromise for Promontory Point. The move delays construction for at least a year.
The dramatic turn occurred last Wednesday after community representatives refused to accept the city’s “final” revetment design with the top two steps made of limestone and the bottom two steps and promenade made of concrete. In response, city representatives tabled the project indefinitely. Money earmarked for Point construction will go toward other projects, according to park officials.

“The process has reached an impasse,” reported Kenwood resident Jamie Kalven, a paid mediator hired to help city and Hyde Park representatives work out a compromise for the proposed $22 million Point rehab.

After more than two years of battling the city’s proposed concrete revetment plan, a group of Hyde Parkers called the Community Task Force for Promontory Point began meeting privately with city and park representatives last August. Despite regular meetings since then, the city has not progressed from its initial August offer of building two of the four steps—not including the promenade—out of limestone, keeping the rest concrete.

Despite last week’s ultimatum and the exit of Doig—a crucial figure in the working group—members remain optimistic.
News of Doig’s resignation more than a month before the latest, and perhaps last, Working Group meeting, brought a new sense of urgency, according to member Greg Lane.

“Everybody recognized with his departure there was an opportunity and a danger,” said Lane.
By all accounts, Doig has been very involved in the ongoing talks. He even attended the final Point meeting two days before he was to step down.

But Parks spokesman Julian Green denied Doig’s departure brought negotiations to a close. “We’re not going to force a community to accept a project...because of one person’s resignation,” said Green. He said it was a matter of money—not Doig’s resignation—that prompted the ultimatum. While city engineers admitted a limestone-based rehab would be feasible at the Point, apparently the cost is too high for the city to bear, at least this year. “We are not shutting the door on the process we are tabling it,” said Green.

Despite progress on many issues, the city officials believe the community’s four limestone steps plan still had unanswered maintenance issues that would ruin future budgets, according to Green. Instead city officials opted for the familiar two limestone step plan they were confident in.

When asked to agree to the design “in principal” to move the project forward, community representatives balked.
“There is no progress in what they are offering,” said Lane.

Now, construction at the Point will likely not begin before 2005, putting “it toward the end” of the citywide effort to protect lake shoreline, according to Rob Rejman, Director of Lakefront Construction. “We’ve given it our best shot and I think the burden shifts to the community to support a plan that is feasible,” said Rejman. “This does not mean the project won’t get done,” Rejman added.

The sudden breakdown in the talks left community representative Jack Spicer sad and disappointed, he said.
“We thoroughly expected them to say okay, okay, we’ll do the four steps in limestone,” said Spicer. Community representatives and mediator Jamie Kalven remain confident that unanswered maintenance and budget issues can still be resolved by talks. “These questions remain open, and they remain answerable,” said Kalven.
Lane agreed, “We’ll work with [cost] just like every other one,” he said, referring to past efforts to answer other city concerns, such as the availability of limestone, the structural soundness of limestone and maintenance required with the four limestone step plan.

As of now, there are no meetings scheduled, park officials say.

Meanwhile, no one is certain where new parks superintendent Tim Mitchell stands on the Point battle. If talks break down with Mitchell’s arrival, Lane said, “Then we’re back to where we were three years ago, to a community at war to save Promontory Point.”

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Greg Lane reports for TF at HPKCC Board meeting, February 5, 2004

Greg Lane, Community Task Force for Promontory Point.

Lane reviewed the 5 and ½ months progress of the Working Group of Task Force, city, and mediator in which almost all the obstacles (and untruths) raised by the design partners against a preservation plan in limestone providing access were answered. The two sides made major concessions and directed creation of a conservancy and a preservation design plan. Park District Superintendent David Doig’s decision to depart without leaving the issue unresolved and bad faith on the part of STS engineers led, Lane said, to a packed Working Group meeting at which Doig said the city doesn’t have time and can’t afford to maintain a preservation plan and the Task Force should sign on to the city’s late-summer hybrid proposal of the top two steps of limestone and the rest of concrete. The Task Force reps refused to answer for the community; the city broke off conversation and says it will do something in 2005. Lane added that the latest excuse, cost of maintaining limestone, was backed by suspect numbers and, like the many past objections by the city, was answerable.

Lane said the Task Force and the mediator stood willing to meet, but that the community had made its progress when it fought and embarrassed the city in the press, not when it met and negotiated cooperatively. The main gain from the process was proving that preservation is possible and is a political, not design and execution, choice. Alderman Hairston will be briefed by the sides on Tuesday. Lane said that the city cannot act without sign-off from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, which takes the view that the 1994 Memorandum of Agreement on Shoreline Protection requires preservation. The Task Force is also asking letters to the Landmarks Commission reinforcing nomination of the Point as a landmark.

Lane said he would consult with HPKCC after the Tuesday briefing on steps on how HPKCC could be of assistance. Lane was thanked for his appearance.

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