March 9 summit leads to resumed search for resolution on facts for a final report (due April 14). Statements and coverage. #9

Page index. The Point home and subpages. Community News
www.SaveThePoint.org
site incl. plans
City/Dept. of Environment site with city plans, updates
Point Wkg 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.

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 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: [This page] 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 News and Developments
12: Key parts of the Mediator's Final Report, May 2004

Here

Hyde Parkers poured e-mails and faxes into the Herald and the office of 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston. Diverse viewpoints have been expressed, including one with a large number of sign-ons urging acceptance of the city's plan. The Alderman's office says constituents' voices have been welcome even if fielding lots of e-mails is a chore. HPKCC and the Hyde Park Historical Society and Promontory Point Task Force have encouraged such expression of opinion, but the urgency for that has passed--send if you really want to, but not just because urged to. Letters to the Herald can be read in their entirety at www.hpherald.com/pointletters022504.pdf.

In February and March, The Alderman's office and other parties told this site that the Alderman insisted that neither the city nor working group should think they or their engineers have time to waste, but should prepare the ground now leading promptly to a resumption of engineers meetings to develop cost estimates of building and maintaining the Point in limestone, then have an independent engineer peer review of the same and prepare a final report. The Task Force said it agreed to this and believed all points could be resolved including ongoing maintenance and establishment of an ongoing collaborative mechanism and also held that the Memorandum of Agreement of 1994 requires that the Point be protected and restored in kind. (This is interpreted differently by other parties.) The TF said it expected the Illinois Historic Protection Agency to enforce the Agreement. The city said its plan uses all the limestone that is there [although a great deal of it will be in the water] and it does not wish to pay for more, or future replacements/maintenance, and that it is not convinced the TF engineering is as good as that of their engineers although it has improved.

The Task Force contended that the operable phrase in the Memorandum Of Agreement is not "stepstone revetment" but "shall match the existing in accord with the Department of Interior's Standards for Preservation." The City and Army Corps have modified their interpretation of the Memorandum in recent months, but they do not want to abandon it or have the Memorandum vacated- that would start the hearing and public input process (strengthened in 1999) all over again--and could doom the project. Yet, the city will apparently will not accept a peer review of STS engineering or consider a "preservation plan" as the Task Force calls theirs. Note: Suspicion has been expressed that much of the city's interests is about contracts, one comparison showing that the city plan and its concrete requires much more hauling and materials than the alternative.

Thus it appeared in March that options were truly narrowed unless the kind of give-and-take demonstrated during the talks were allowed to proceed to conclusion- as Alderman Hairston demanded and at least nominally got.

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Re: March 9 meeting

Statement from Mediator Jamie Kalven:

On March 9, Alderman Leslie Hairston convened a meeting regarding Promontory Point.

The meeting was attended by Vasile Jurca of the Department of the Environment; Rob Rejman and Joseph Bornstein of the Chicago Park District; Felicia Kirksey of the Army Corps of Engineers; Fred Blum, Greg Lane, Jorge Sanchez, and Jack Spicer of the Community Task Force for Promontory Point; Robert Mason, David Mosena, and Marcy Schlessinger of the South East Chicago Commission; Alderman Toni Preckwinkle; Henry Webber of the University of Chicago; Peter Rossi; Sue Purrington and Maurice Lee of Alderman Hairston’s staff; and myself.

All present agreed to the following: Wayne Brunzell, an independent engineer acting as my technical advisor, will review questions with respect to the structural requirements and relative costs of different design options for the preservation and restoration of Promontory Point. The City and the Community Task Force will provide Mr. Brunzell with reasonable access to their respective engineers and consultants for this purpose. Mr. Brunzell and I will provide a written report to Alderman Hairston by April 15.

Jamie Kalven

Mediator

Promontory Point Working Group

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Statement of Alderman Hairston re: proceeding with costing, final reports and recommendations per March 9 meeting

Hyde Park Herald, March 17, 2004. Leslie A. Hairston (5th)

It is time for a resolution to Point negotiations

The past three years have brought great change to Hyde Park. All around the neighborhood we se signs of our community evolving. From the University of Chicago's ambitious Campus Master Plan to the Museum of Science and Industry's new underground submarine bunker to the new underpasses taking shape in Jackson Park as part of the nearly completed South Lake Shore Drive protect, change has been a constant in our neighborhood dynamic.

But for one major project the opposite has been true. For the past thee years the proposed rehabilitation of Promontory Point has remained deadlocked and out of step with progress in the neighborhood.

In January 2001, more than 200 residents came out to voice opposition to the Shoreline Revetment Project for Promontory Point--a sterile concrete revetment plan presented by the Chicago Park District, the Chicago Department of Environment and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. For more than two and a half years, community members have tussled with the project's planners to preserve the Point's historic character.

Then last summer, a window of opportunity emerged as the Community Task Force for Promontory Point sat down with the project's designers in the hopes of developing a plan the community could support. Set up by the South East Chicago Commission, the Promontory Point Working Group process was a mediated negotiation between the community and planners. Working with independent mediator Jamie Kalven and third-party engineer Wayne Brunzell, the parties worked together to develop a consensus on a feasible rehabilitation plan.

Over the next six months, residents engaged in intensive sessions of give and take to build common ground. But as the process wound down, the unexpected departure of former Chicago Park District Superintendent David Doig forced an abrupt end to the discussions. The park district walked away from the process, pending the arrival of new superintendent Tim Mitchell and tabled the Promontory Point leg of the project until next year.

Given the level of community involvement in the project, and the nearness of working group process to a conclusive ending, not finishing the work of the group was unacceptable.

Through conversations with Superintendent Mitchell and Commissioner Marcia Jimenez, the city and the park district have agreed to return to the table and finish the work they started.

Kalven and Brunzell will work with the group's members to put together a final report addressing the relative costs of the different design options for Promontory Point and submit it to my office by April 15 with their recommendations.

While I remain committed to the fight to preserve Promontory Point, I have always been clear that there would be a conclusion. The community has fought long and hard to preserve Promontory Point; now this community demands a resolution. With this process back on track, I am confident that we can bring the issue of the Point to a successful conclusion and, as a community, move on.

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Ald. imposes Point deadline

Hyde Park Herald, March 17, 2004. by Mike Stevens

[website ed. note: In her column, Alderman Hairston does not explicitly say she will do the deciding in case either or both the city and the Task Force do not agree with the mediator's final report and also that April 15 is a firm deadline.]

April 15: that is the apparent deadline to negotiations between the community and the city over the rehab plan for Promontory Point, according to Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th).

After that date, Hairston will decide which plan will go forward, the city's two-limestone, two-concrete step plan or the task force's limestone preservation plan.

At a meeting held last Tuesday at the 53rd Street offices of the South East Chicago Commission, it was agreed that an independent engineer will hammer out a final cost analysis of the limestone-based plan put together by the Community Task Force, a group of Hyde Parkers working to save the Point's limestone revetment.

Also present at the meeting was SECC Director Bob Mason, Hank Webber, Vice President of Community Affairs at the University of Chicago, Peter Rossi, who is representing those in favor of the city's current plan, And Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th).

It is the first time since the 3-year battle over the Point rehab started that Preckwinkle has become involved. "The alderman of the 5th Ward invited me to the meeting and I cam," Preckwinkle told the Herald. Preckwinkle added that no matter how "dedicated and committed" other are to the Point, only Hairston was elected to represent the residents of the 5th Ward.

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Two Task Force explanations of their plan and position and what the resumed process is to achieve

Limestone design points

To the Editor, Hyde Park Herald, March 17, 2004

This is an important moment for Promontory Point. we are very pleased that all parties have agreed to continue the mediation process. The intention is to use this process to settle the unresolved issue of what it would cost to build and maintain a preserved Promontory Point. There are four points about the Task Force preservation plan we would like to be sure everyone understands.

The best way to ensure that the Point gets repaired as soon as possible is for the Chicago Park District to agree to a preservation plan, as it is required to do by federal law. The only way to get federal dollars for the work is to submit a preservation design.

Task Force Executive Committee: Fred Blum, Bruce Johnstone, Jack Spicer, Connie Spreen

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The Point: We can come together or fall apart

By Bruce Johnstone. Hyde Park Herald, March 17, 2004

The recent efforts by some community members to influence the alderman to accept the city's current plan for the Point shoreline has provoked some thoughts and questions about what is important to the member of this community.

I wonder whether the people who signed to accept the city's current design really understand what this plan will look and feel like when it is done. Do they really feel a design dominated by concrete is acceptable?

Keep in mind that "reuse of every stone" is a misleading statement. The 51st to 53rd Street stretch reused every stone. I ask everyone who is in favor of accepting the current plan to take some time, go out to the Point and sit for a while on the stone. Think about what makes The Point such a nice place to be. Walk over to the structure at 53rd Street, sit at the concrete promenade's edge, dangle your legs down the steel wall and imagine being able to step down onto a stone platform leading into the water. Stones placed in the water--this is where the city's plan places the majority of the reused limestone blocks.

Look back at the steps now, and imagine two steps of stone dwarfed atop three massive concrete slabs, which now define the shoreline. The gentle intimate curves, which now define the Points shoreline, will all be gone. Replacing these gentle curves will be straight concrete slabs just like the 53rd Street stretch. This is the city's current plan. If you would like to see what stone texturing on concrete really looks like, venture down to the stretch between 23rd and 31st Street. Spend some time here, gather some thoughts of hat it feels like being in this environment.

I would be willing to bet that most of you, like me, will be sickened at the thought of doing this to our Promontory Point.

Does the city revetment plan have any benefits at all, or only losses? Who does benefit from this plan? Is this reason to accept a bad plan? I believe this community makes decisions based on principle and vision, not on fear.

With the immense outpouring of concern this community continues to demonstrate , I have little worry we will be seeing any

massive slabs of concrete being poured at the Point.

I think we really have only two options: (1) We will decide to all join together, to fight the city's current plan, until we win a preservation plan for our beautiful Promontory Point, however long it takes.
(2) We will decide to quarrel with each other, resulting in nothing at all being done at Promontory Point.

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