Point home and sub pages.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.
For the complete Final Report of the Mediator and Engineer see the Invisible Institute site, above.
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 after talks collapsed Jan. 28, 2004
4: September 10 public briefing and summary
5: [This page:] Reports of the Mediator of the Working Group meetings
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 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 Report
(Original site is, www.thepoint.invisibleinstitute.com. Access via clicking the link in www.savethepoint.org.)
The Promontory Point Working Group: meeting #1
Representatives of the City and the Community Task Force for Promontory Point met on August 5, 2003, from 8:00 am to 9:30 am, in the conference room of the Monadnock Building, 53 W. Jackson Blvd.
· Name. The group will be called the Promontory Point Working Group.
· Mediator. Jamie Kalven will serve as mediator. The role of the mediator is to work with the parties to create the conditions for a productive collaborative process and to guide that process.
· Reporting procedures. In order to insure open discussion, the meetings will be closed to the public and the press. In order to insure public accountability, the mediator will prepare a progress report after each meeting. Reports will not be made public until they have been reviewed and approved by the City and the Task Force. Rob Rejman of the Park District and Greg Lane of the Task Force will serve as contacts for this purpose. Having been reviewed and approved, reports will be posted at http://thepoint.invisibleinstitute.com.
· External relations. No explicit policy was adopted with respect to contact with the press and other interested parties--beyond referring those who make inquiries to the progress reports posted by the mediator. Members agreed that any contact with the press should be handled in such a way as to respect the Working Group process.
Superintendent Doig and Commissioner Jimenez suggested that it would be useful to begin with a discussion of “the history” of the Shoreline Protection Project and “the context” for the design process. Jack Spicer of the Task Force voiced reservations about such an approach. There are, he said, disagreements about the history that could impede the forward progress of the Working Group, if engaged at this juncture.
Rob Rejman of the Park District emphasized that he hoped the process would get to specific design considerations as quickly as possible. Greg Lane of the Task Force agreed that would be the most efficient way to proceed, but he also said that it would be helpful to have a clear idea “where we are starting out and where you are starting out.”
Jack Spicer suggested three broad subjects that could serve to frame discussion of specific design considerations: water access, preservation, accessibility for people with disabilities. Commissioner Jimenez suggested a fourth subject: durability.
Meeting #2 (August 14,
Representatives of the City (the Park District, Department of Environment, and Army Corps of Engineers) and the Community Task Force for Promontory Point met on August 14, 2003, from 8:00 am to 9:30 am, in the conference room of the Monadnock Building, 53 W. Jackson Blvd.
on the context for design
The meeting began with fifteen minute presentations by the City and the Task Force on the context for design.
Jimenez spoke for the City. She organized her presentation around the four substantive areas the Working Group has agreed will shape its agenda: water access, preservation, accessibility, and durability.
Water Access. Access is the premise of the project. One of the reasons the rubble mound approach to lakefront restoration favored by the federal government was rejected was that it would have defeated access to the shoreline. Water access necessarily varies depending on Lake levels. The City’s proposal addresses the need for varied points of access to the water. Steps into the water will be replicated by raised stone platforms using existing limestone. The raised toe berm of new stone around the remaining perimeter of the Point will also serve the purpose of water access in “enter at your own risk” areas.
Preservation. The City is committed to the preservation of the unique character of the Point. It plans to preserve and reuse every existing stone at Point. It has agreed to reuse stone to hide the steel sheet pile and for the top two steps of the revetment structure. The latter entails considerable risk and increased maintenance costs. (A similar reuse of stones at Solidarity Drive resulted in significant damage after a storm. The hope is that the top two levels at the Point are far enough removed from the waves to withstand the impact.)
Accessibility. The lakefront is for everyone, whether able-bodied, a senior, or disabled. The City is strongly committed to designing a structure that is accessible by people of all abilities. The entire structure should be accessible at all levels. It is not acceptable to have the promenade be the only accessible surface, for when lake levels are high it will be under water; and even when lake levels are low, wave events could make it inaccessible.
Durability. Whatever structure is eventually built must be constructed in such a way that it lasts for at least 50 years; ideally, for longer. As stewards of the public dollars, the agencies involved in the Shoreline Project have a responsibility not to allow a structure that has a disproportionately higher initial construction cost compared with any other shoreline segment and/or has maintenance costs that defeat the goal of constructing a structure durable enough to require little or no maintenance over its service life.
Lane, Heitzman, and Tjaden made the presentation for the Task Force.
Lane reaffirmed the commitment of the Task Force, as representatives of the community and bearers of its mandate, to the Working Group process. He expressed the belief that the parties can find common ground. The clearest similarity between the two parties is that everyone is a park advocate. This provides a strong foundation for working together. “We’re learning how to do this,” he said. “We’ll get it wrong sometimes.” He appealed to Working Group members to listen to one another “sympathetically.”
Heitzman distinguished seven distinct “zones” of Promontory Point:
A. The northernmost zone
is a transition segment between the new concrete revetment and the limestone
step stones of the Point. This is the logical site for both a storm drainage
system and pedestrian access from the parkland to the north.
B. The northern side of the Point. This is an area where sand has built up and the water is relatively shallow, creating a submerged beach. It is heavily used.
C. The eastern tip of the Point. Restored with concrete in 1964, this is a great area to fish or to look at the skyline of the city.
D. Coming around the eastern tip to the southern side of the Point, this zone affords access to deep water swimming.
E. The promenade area on the south side of the Point. It is in relatively good condition. A good place for shallow swimming.
F. The transition segment between the limestone step stone and the new concrete revetment to the south. This zone presents similar considerations to A above.
G. The upper park, above and bounded by the revetment structure.
Heitzman concluded his presentation by observing that all seven areas should be considered in the design process. Views, storm water protection, accessibility, a continuous promenade, and the look of the existing artifacts all need to be taken into account.
Tjaden listed six general criteria for redevelopment of the revetment and asserted the importance of giving each equal weight in the design process.
The history of the revetment
and the Point.
The aesthetic character of the Point.
Durability and longevity.
Accessibility to as broad a range of people as possible.
The discussion then turned to the first of the four topics the Working Group has agreed will shape its agenda: water access.
Spicer posed a question: how might access to the water be distributed geographically around the Point so as to maximize variety—shallow water areas, deep water areas, submerged beach, and so on—and to provide access for people of different abilities, including those with disabilities?
After some preliminary discussion of how best to proceed, Jimenez suggested that the group make use of the topography presented by Heitzman and consider the question of water access zone by zone. The group agreed to this approach.
Heitzman said that Zone A is probably not that important for swimming access. There was general agreement that in Zone A there are other primary functions—drainage and pedestrian access--besides water access. This was understood not to preclude considerations of water access in Zone A, if it was not possible to accommodate varied forms of access elsewhere.
Heitzman said that Zone B is currently a major swimming area. Because it is shallow, it is a good place to create access for people with disabilities.
Lane observed that Zone B has different uses all the way along it, and that it is a dynamic area that will change over time. Jimenez said that she had heard clearly from the community that this is why people like to swim there. She said this is where the idea of reusing the limestone blocks in a pyramid structure came from.
Spicer emphasized that community members very much like the idea of reusing the existing stones in a stepped toe berm. He asked whether it would be possible to break the stepped toe berm up into sections, in order to create more places to get into the water. Jimenez replied that it would fall apart, if it was broken up into sections less than 50 feet long.
Jimenez said that the steel sheet piling must be protected. The raised toe berm designed to protect the piling would itself serve as a point of access to the water. Doig observed that park users would probably continue to access the water off these stones in “enter at your own risk” areas where swimming is not sanctioned by the Park District.
Lane suggested that, although swimming is only sanctioned in certain areas, the design process should acknowledge and address the reality that people swim all around the Point. Doig agreed.
Milo said that in addition to step stone swimming platforms and the raised toe berm around the perimeter of the Point, water access could be provided by ladders and grab bars.
Doig noted that some people like the irregular stone used in the raised toe berm. Lane agreed. People do embrace the irregularity of the stones. The existing stone is irregular. But nobody likes the rubble toe stone at the newly constructed revetment at 53rd Street, he said, because it prohibits water access and leaves the steel wall exposed.
Spicer asked whether limestone blocks that had been removed elsewhere on the lakefront might be used at the Point. Doig replied that there is not much limestone left.
Tjaden suggested developing proactive strategies for providing access to the water for persons with disabilities. He said that the Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office For People With Disabilities had said this would be the perfect area for such strategies.
Lane acknowledged that water access for persons with disabilities presents a design challenge but emphasized that it is an important consideration for the community. He stated that the Task Force strongly advocates for access for persons with varied abilities.
Doig said that a ramp into the water presents liability issues for the City. The Mayor’s Office For People With Disabilities have been very involved in the design process. They want access to the promenade. And they want to make beaches more accessible through the use of beach mats.
Jimenez raised the issue of “programmable space”: if you construct a ramp into the water, it would have to be staffed, and when not staffed, it would have to be secured. She argued that the design process should avoid features that require staffing of this nature.
Rejman said he did not think building ramps into the water was realistic. This, he said, may be a point of disagreement with the Task Force.
Kalven summarized several points that had emerged in the course of the discussion:
There appears to be agreement
on the principle that the design process should address access to the water’s
edge for the entire site, while recognizing that swimming may only be sanctioned
in designated areas.
There appears to be disagreement on the question of ramps into the water as a strategy for providing access for people with disabilities. The Working Group will return to this issue when it considers the topic of accessibility.
There appears to be agreement that the design process should avoid features that require staffing (beyond lifeguards).
Doig observed that the absence of engineers at Working Group sessions retards the process in that questions arise (e.g., the advisability of ramps into the water) that cannot be given definitive answers in the absence of engineers. Johnstone responded that engineers should not be the ultimate arbiters: you should decide what you want to do in terms of design, then direct them to implement it.
The next meeting of the Working Group will be on Tuesday, August 19 at 8:00 am.
August 18, 2003
To: The Promontory Point Working Group
From: Jamie Kalven
The first two sessions have been a reconnaissance for me—an opportunity to deepen my sense of the participants, the issues, the possibilities, the dangers. At this juncture, I have some recommendations and some questions:
I had hoped after
the first meeting, attended by the full Task Force Executive Committee and senior
officials from the three public agencies, that a smaller group would emerge—a
group of a size and composition conducive to efficient, focused collaboration.
I recommend that we constitute such a group for the remaining two meetings during
The Park District has proposed bringing engineers to the next Working Group session. The Task Force opposes this. This issue has the potential to undermine the process, for it touches on areas of distrust and skepticism for both parties. The City fears that Working Group sessions will be futile exercises in “reinventing the wheel”—a process undisciplined by engineering and fiscal realities. The Task Force fears that the City will exercise a sort of “engineer’s veto” as a rhetorical device, thereby shutting down creative exploration of possibilities. I recommend that we continue, as originally agreed, through the month of August, two more meetings, without engineers. In these meetings we will work through the four substantive areas we have identified (water access, preservation, accessibility, durability), articulating design guidelines and developing shared statements of persisting problems and open questions. We will then assess where we are and what we need to do to resolve those problems and answer those questions.
In an effort to create a space for creativity and innovation, we have tried to avoid making direct references to competing plans—the City’s plan, the Task Force’s plan, etc. I have come to the conclusion that this retards the discussion. It is unworkable to avoid invoking the existing plans and arraying them against each other. The effort should be to frame problems and consider how each plan addresses the problem. The immediate objective is not to opt for one or the other design strategy put to deepen our statement of problems in such a way as to create the conditions for innovation and resolution.
The public agencies speak with a single voice. The Task Force does not. This is problematic. At times, it seems, there is a negotiation going on within the Task Force that complicates the larger negotiation. Are there ways in which the Task Force might impose greater internal discipline on itself? Alternatively, are there ways in which the divergent stances within the Task Force could be made more constructive?
At the August 14 Working Group meeting, Frank Heitzman presented a topography that distinguishes seven distinct “zones” of Promontory Point. Do we agree that this framework is analytically useful? Should the Working Group adopt it as a framework for discussion?
Meeting #3 (August 19,
Representatives of the City (Park District, Department of Environment, and Army Corps of Engineers) and the Community Task Force for Promontory Point met on August 19, 2003, from 8:00 am to 9:30 am, in the conference room of the Monadnock Building, 53 W. Jackson Blvd.
Kalven opened the meeting. He reported that the parties had endorsed h[is] recommendations contained in his August 18 memo. Underlying the specific recommendations, he said, is the understanding that the immediate task of the Working Group is to arrive at shared statements of problems and open questions: to collaborate in articulating differences. By the first week in September, the Working Group should have fully mapped areas of agreement and formulated the core issues that remain. At that point, the Group will turn its attention to resolving the issues it has identified.
Kalven then presented a summary of points of agreement that had emerged in the course of the discussion of water access at the August 14 meeting:
The topography of seven
“zones” of Promontory Point presented by Heitzman is analytically
useful. The Working Group will employ it, as appropriate, to structure the discussion
of water access and other topics.
Patterns of community usage and the meanings the community attaches to particular features of the Point are major values. The intensity of the controversy testifies to this.
The structure of the Point is not fixed. It has shifted and changed over time. It will continue to do so in the future. Design should account for this dynamic environment.
Park users have adapted to the shifts and changes. Patterns of usage have evolved. Those patterns, both historical and present, should be acknowledged, respected, and reflected in the design.
An objective of the design process is to maximize varied and alternative ways of interacting with the Point.
Particular usage patterns may be satisfied in different places at the Point than they are currently. (This is not, it should be noted, a purely functional question. The meanings community members attach to particularities of place are also a consideration.)
The design process should address access to the water’s edge for the entire Point, while acknowledging that sanctioned swimming may only occur in designated areas.
There is a presumption against design features that require staffing.
The Working Group agreed that this was an accurate statement of points of agreement.
Lane added an additional point of agreement: an objective of the design process is to maximize access for people of varied abilities. That is: not only persons with disabilities but also the very young, the elderly, those with special needs, and so on.
Against this background, the Working Group turned to specific design elements affecting water access.
Milo suggested the possibility of installing ladders and grab bars for the purpose of entering and exiting the water. Rejman pointed out that the community had expressed a strong preference for a design that masks the steel sheet piling. Ladders and grab bars would need to be secured to the steel sheet piling. Their installation would thus conflict with this preference. For that reason, the City did not include ladders and grab bars in its proposal. Task Force members agreed with the City’s approach. The Working Group concluded that ladders and grab bars were not a desirable means of water access and egress.
The City proposes including two 300-foot swimming “platforms.” In the course of the discussion, it became apparent that there was a misunderstanding regarding what the word “platform” refers to. Task Force members had understood the word to refer to a deck jutting out into the Lake. Rejman and Jurca explained that the “platform” was constituted of single block steps of stacked limestone that performed the dual function of toe berm (protecting the steel sheet piling) and step stones (providing access to the water).
“Toe berm” is the submerged rock in front of the step stone structure. There are two different kinds of toe berms: stacked blocks and rubble mound. The existing toe berm is rubble mound, consisting of irregular stone placed in an interlocking and random fashion. Stacked blocks allow easier and safer access to and egress from the water. They do so, according to Rejman and Jurca, at some cost in structural integrity. Stacked blocks, according to Rejman and Jurca, are more likely than rubble mound to move around and possibly do damage to the steel sheet piling or drift away leaving it unprotected. The City is concerned that they would require more maintenance. The Task Force prefers stacked blocks, proposing that the shifting of these steps over time would be a structural, not a functional, failure, and would be an acceptable change which would not require maintenance.
Rejman noted that the original construction was built with a random toe berm and not a stepped toe berm. The stepped toe berm proposed by the City is not an attempt at historic preservation but rather than attempt at enhanced, diversified access to the water’s edge given varying water depths and shoreline characteristics.
The group agreed that the word “platform” was misleading. Heitzman suggested the term “stepped toe berm.” The group agreed to use this term.
Another point of misunderstanding was identified with respect to the “submerged toe berm” at 53rd Street. Spicer noted that community members had expressed concern that a similar toe berm would be installed at the Point. He noted that the small stone toe berm was unusable for water access and egress. Jurca made clear that any toe berm proposed for the Point would be constructed with significantly larger stones because it is above water.
Here is an image from the City of what the “stepped toe berm” would look like: [for images access the site via www.savethepoint.org.
And here is an image from the City of what rubble mound toe berm would look like:
The City proposes using rubble mound toe berm in areas where stepped toe berm is not used.
Here is an image from the Task Force of what a stepped toe berm would look like:
The Task Force proposes using stepped toe berm all the way around the Point.
Once the confusion about the word “platform” was cleared up, Task Force representatives expressed strong support for the “stepped toe berm” approach and advocated that it be employed around the entire circumference of the Point rather than being limited to two 300 foot sections.
Rejman stated that two considerations had governed the decision to limit the stepped toe berm to two 300 foot sections:
The cost of dimensional
cut stone, as opposed to blasted quarry stone.
Stability of the structure and hence maintenance requirements, where dimensional cut stone is used instead of interlocked, blasted stone for the toe berm.
Blum observed that using stepped toe berm around the perimeter of the Point would enhance safety by providing the means for swimmers to exit the water at any point.
Milo raised the issue of cost. The City proposes to reuse all of the limestone at the Point. Additional limestone will be purchased.
Jurca distinguished between cut stone and uncut stone. The former is more attractive but also more expensive.
Lane said that the Task Force advocated using cut stone. He said that the issue of aesthetics has repeatedly come up in community meetings. Blasted stone has an industrial look. Community members are concerned that it will not be consistent with the core value of preservation.
To summarize: the Working Group agreed that some use of the stepped toe berm approach was desirable. There was disagreement as to the extent of the stepped toe berm. The Task Force advocates that stepped toe berm be placed around the entire circumference of the Point for reasons of aesthetics, water access, safety, and protection of the sheet steel wall. The City agrees to limited use but opposes extensive use due to considerations of cost and stability/maintenance.
Rejman posed a hypothetical question: assuming it is not possible to wrap the entire perimeter in stepped toe berm, does the placement of the 300-foot stretches of stepped toe berm on the north and south sides of the Point in the current plan correspond to community usage patterns and preferences? Are they in the right places? Task Force members resisted answering the question as framed. Lane reiterated the community’s preference for water access all the way around perimeter of the Point. Spicer said that the community was interested in diversified rather than concentrated points of access. Lane stated that splitting the stepped toe berm into 50-foot sections and distributing it around the perimeter of the Point would be better than two 300-foot sections, but that even that would be inadequate to address park users water patterns. He noted that Doig had acknowledged that people access the water all the way around the Point. Rejman said that dividing the stepped toe berm into smaller sections would mean more transitional areas, but that the option could be explored. Lane added that it was desirable to have a consistent appearance all the way around the Point, a concern the City has expressed in the past.
Kalven noted that two distinct design alternatives had been identified:
300-foot stretches of stepped
toe berm on the north and south sides of the Point.
Stepped toe berm around the entire perimeter of the Point.
Spicer raised the possibility of including in the design points at which the step stones would be designed in such a way as to allow access for those with limited mobility—a child, for example, or someone using a cane or walker. Rejman replied that “inviting people into the water” in areas where swimming is not sanctioned is problematic for the Park District. There are legal issues; they don’t want to create “an attractive nuisance.” Blum observed that a beach, in effect, invites people into the water. Rejman replied that use of beaches is regulated and the Park District provides lifeguards. Kalven suggested that perhaps limited access for those with limited mobility could be provided in areas patrolled by lifeguards. Heitzman suggested the possibility of steps that are perhaps three feet wide and six inches high—“human scale steps,” as Spicer put it. Jurca responded that this might be feasible. He and Rejman agreed that they would explore the possibility, especially in light of their use as safe water egress.
Lane brought up the issue of “sanctioned swimming.” Although not strictly a design issue, it is a matter of longstanding concern to community members who swim off the Point. The intermittent pattern of the police ticketing swimmers who venture outside of designated areas has been a source of tension between the community and the City. Deep water swimming and other direct uses of the water at the Point should be sanctioned, Lane stated, noting the all the parties—park users, the police, and the City—stand to lose when swimming is criminalized. The Working Group agreed to seek clarification of current policy and to work toward a stable resolution of this issue that would contribute to positive relations between the City and the community.
The next meeting of the Working Group will be Monday, August 25 at 8:00 am.
In attendance: Fred Blum TF, Frank Heitzman AIA for TF, Vasile Jurca DOE Proj Mgr, Greg Lane TF, Joanne Milo ACE Proj Mgr, Rob Rejman CPD Dir Lkft Constr, Jack Spicer TF, Jamie Kalven mediator assisted by Luli Buxton
Heitzman...distinguished three broad groups of people for whom accessibility at the Point is an issue:
Those in wheelchairs. Some are elderly and want a place where they can sit; others use the Point to exercise.
People who need assistance to get around, either in the form of a cane or walker or by holding on to a caretaker's arm. This group includes the elderly, young people, and persons with debilitating conditions and injuries.
Families with small children, who make use of strollers and other types of wheeled vehicles to get down to the water.
In addition to these groups, said Heitzman, there are people who need other forms of assistance; for example, blind and deaf persons, and those with mental disabilities, who need help with path finding.
...Heitzman said that each of the seven zones (including the park itself ) should be accessible to persons with disabilities...Heitzman said the existing path east of the underpass tunnel has a slope of 1 and 20. This meets the minimum requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Illinois Accessibility Code, but many community members have complained that the path is too steep. Jurca asked if it was the slope that made the path too steep. Heitzman replies that it is the slope but also the distance. The path conforms to legal requirements, he said, but is difficult to traverse. He suggested constructing level landings for resting places every hundred feet or so along the sloping path.
Heitzman closed his presentation by saying that there should be server al places for persons with disabilities to get to the water's edge. The more places the better,so long as it doesn't destroy the experience for others or make a fundamental change in the nature of the site. He said the design needs to reconcile requirements of access's with the nature of that which is being accessed. He gave the example of rugged trails: once you make them accessible, they are not rugged anymore. Making tem accessible thereby ruins them both for people without and people with disabilities.
In this connection, Heitzman observed that although Promontory Point is man-made, it was intended to look natural and that the community wants to keep that natural look.
...Rejman said that typically the revetment structure gets people to the water's edge. The difference in this instance is that we are trying to make the structure look natural. He asked the Task Force how many levels of revetment they wanted to provide access to?
Heitzman said the promenade is designed for "promenading" and adding access to more levels was fundamentally changing the existing historic design.
Rejman said the stepped concrete is like a second promenade when the water is high. The experience is recreated at various levels.
Heitzman observed that access for wheelchair users also provides access for bikes and roller blades, which can be seen as a negative type of access. One solution would be to vary the line of the smooth portion of the promenade so it does not afford straight-line access. It would be difficult to traverse on a bike but interesting to someone in a wheelchair.
Lane mentioned that the task force planned for three separate locations, as did the city. Kalven asked if the locations were the same. Rejman said the placement is the same, but the pathways were different. He said that in the city's plans, before they added the top two limestone steps, there was access to every level. The top two levels will no longer [be] fully accessible pathways. The city plan has a switchback that would allow wheelchairs to get off on any level.
...Lane emphasized that the community is against the use of concrete stair-step as a solution to accessibility. He said it destroys the experience in order to give accessibility to it. The community's solution, he said, was platforms integrated into the ramp structure, thereby preserving the experience and making it accessible. The top two steps look similar in both city and community plans. Lane said it was important to have landing platforms for resting, viewing, and chatting. He reiterated the community's opposition to concrete as the solution to accessibility. They are looking, he said, for a more elegant solution.
...Kalven noted the strongly stated position of the Task Force that accessibility questions should be approached on their own terms and not as a rationale for use of concrete as opposed to limestone.
Lane said we should isolate the conversation about concrete and limestone to the preservation section of the meetings...The Task Force does not want to see accessibility uses as a justification for concrete. Lane said that he did not see much disagreement between the Task force and the City on the issue of access. Rejman agreed. We are searching, Rejman said, for the right balance between providing smooth surfaces to fulfill our commitment to full access, and preserving the original look.
Lane said some people with limited mobility prefer stairs to ramps. He raised the question of whether "human sized steps" to the Promenade made at some locations might be a possibility. Spicer added that probably only 10% or 15% of those for whom accessibility is an issue are in wheelchairs, so it was worth it to build stairs as well.
...Jurca said that there are two detrimental effects to using steps in the revetment. The first is that it would reduce accessibility because the staircases would interrupt the smooth surfaces. The other is that the steps would create liability issues.
....The problem, Rejman explained, is that the stone steps at Promontory Point are not considered "per code" stairs. They are seen as "structures" not as "stairways."
...Lane said one essential solution would be to discuss issues of safety rather than issues of liability. If you make the Point as safe as possible, then liability is less of a concern. Everyone agreed.
...Rejman said that the first things to recognize is that this is foremost a sea-wall revetment structure. All these separate components affect the design, and ultimately the discussion needs to include them all.
Point report reflects tension over 3rd party engineers.
Representatives of the City and the Community Task Force for Promontory Point met on Sept. 16, 2003, from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. in the conference room of the Monadnock Building, 53 w. Jackson Blvd.
In attendance: Fred Blum, David Doig, Frank Heitzman, Marcia Jimenez, Vasile Jurca, Greg Lane, Joanne Milo, rob Rejman, Jack Spicer, Mediator Jamie Kalven.
Kalven opened the meeting by offering some observations on the process...One core issue remains. We have known from the start that it would be the crux. Whether it is termed a preservation issue or materials issue, the critical open question has to do with the revetment structure itself--the promenade and the step stones. The designs of the City and the Task Force have, in a sense, co-evolved, each influencing the other. Both the City and the Task Force now propose hybrid structures that use reinforced concrete and limestone in different proportions and configurations....In order to work through these questions, Kalven said, the process needs to be informed by outside engineering expertise.
Before discussing the proposal for peer review, Kalven noted a second area where creativity might be possible. Everybody acknowledges the specialness of Promontory Point. The Task Force has expressed the hope that this might be formally recognized by declaring the Point a landmark. One of the City's concerns as he understands it, he said, is that a precedent will be created at the Point that the City will be bound by elsewhere. Perhaps the formal process of landmark designation would address both sets of concerns.
Returning to the question of bringing outside engineering expertise into the process, Doig said he wanted to express his frustration. He was impatient to resolve matters, he said. Over the last two years, the Park District has submitted to every request made by the community. If this is another hurdle the City is being asked to clear, nothing will be gained. He stated that his initial reaction was to resist bringing in an outside engineer. Wouldn't it make more sense, he asked, to have the Task Force's engineers and the city's engineers engaged in an exchange ford the benefit of the Working Group, rather than introduce a third party engineer?
Kalven replied that in view of the history of distrust with respect to engineering, the peer review approach was the best mechanism they could come up with to advance the process.
Lane said he understood the City's frustrations. The Task Force does not want to be obstructionists, he said. They do not want abandonment, but they do not want destruction either. The situation is frustrating on both sides. The hope is that the peer review process will enable us to move quickly toward that end. The Task Force does not have a solution, he said. It wants to come up with one together with the City.
Milo said she was skeptical they could find someone who was qualified and could be brought up to speed quickly. She expressed concern about bringing a third party engineer into the discussion, if there was not sufficient time for that person to prepare. Doig agreed. There are serious problems, he said, with cursory reviews. Jimenez said that the project has been discussed for 15 years; it took five years of debate and millions of dollars to develop the design. She said the outside engineer would have to be someone already familiar with the project yet at the same time unbiased.
Lane replied that he saw bringing outside engineering into the process as a way of reducing concerns about bias. He did not see a history of involvement with the City or the Army Corps as necessarily being evidence of bias.
Jimenez said that no one had talked to her about this. Kalven said..the Working Group was now discussing the mater for the first time. Jimenez said she would not agree unless she has ample time to participate in the selection of the third party engineer. Kalven said he would keep her informed.
Jimenez said...engineers have different prejudices and different areas of expertise. She asked whether the parties were prepared to accept a third party decision. Kalven replied that the third party engineer would not be asked to make a decision. He emphasized that this was not arbitration but an extension of the mediation process.
Doig said the outside engineer should be seen as technical support for Kalven in his role as mediator. Kalven agreed that this was what he had in mind. He said he would chose someone everyone agrees upon.
Jimenez sid she remained committed to finishing the process by October 1st. She asked Lane if he thought that was possible. He replied that he wa not sure, but that the Task Force understood the need to move the process forward quickly. It is committed to a short time line, as long as there are adequate mechanisms in place for arriving at resolution.
Kalven said that the process is at the threshold of resolution or dissolution; it has reached a point where either it comes together or falls apart. Nothing will be gained by prolonging it.
Land said that the Task Force is looking for a way to pivot from a position of opposition to a position in which it is standing shoulder to shoulder with the City, so that "your problems are our problems."
Doig raised the question of what the precise scope of the peer review would be. He said that it should be limited to the question of what to do with the promenade and the bottom step. Doig said the review has to be quick and concise. If we have to spend three or four months, it will kill the project.
Lane agreed, but said that the Task Force wants to leave open the possibility for compromise. Doig said he thinks the engineers should be limited to what is proposed, not to offering compromises, because of time constraints.
Lane said that the community is not committed to a particular design. We have two proposals for hybrid structures using both concrete and limestone. The hope is that by focusing the review on these designs, we move the process forward. If we fail, at least we tried.
Jimenez felt that the time frame would be too short for a new engineer to get up to speed. she asked how one would identify an unbiased third party engineer. The city has contracted with most of the civil engineers in the country and they would likely be biased...Jimenez said that before she would agree to this, she would have to look at the list of engineers being proposed. Doig and Jimenez both stated that the October 1 deadline was very important and must be adhered to, or there would be problems funding the project.
Blum returned to the point Kalven had made in his opening remarks about the City being concerned that it would establish a precedent at the Point that it would be bound to elsewhere. Doig observed that this should not be overstated. The Point stands on its own in terms of historic quality. Doig is not terribly concerned about the precedent of the Point. The City is down to its last few revetment projects, and there has not been the same degree of passion elsewhere. Doig added that if the city is unable to reach a resolution with the community, it is prepared to move on, but that would be a great disappointment.
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.
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.