Herald coverage, including the Task Force Promontory Point Access and Preservation Plan, before city August counter. (Series 2003-04, #2)

The 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.

Mid-2003>> Series:
1: July 13 Task Force Preservation and Access Plan
2: [This page:] Reports and more text, views and links to view plans

3: City counter/compromise plan and coverage, comments
4: September 10 public briefing and summary
5: 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 Final Report
13: About, Reactions to the Mediator's Report

14: Reactions to the ad hoc group; during the period of its (non) meetings, June-August 2004, other actions including by Rep. Jackson, Il. Hist. Pres. Agency
15: Late 2004, "ad hoc" period
16: 2005 through June


See a side-by-side rendering of the Task Force and City counter/compromise plan in #3, the next in this series.

    What they were saying in July, 2003...by Gary Ossewaarde

  • Coastal engineer Charles Shabica, hired by the Task Force, said: "There's no question in my mind that these structures can be rebuilt." (Shabica's cost estimate is $17.1 million, enough under the city's estimate for its plan (which has fewer ramp and stair features) to give wiggle room.)
  • Greg Lane, Task Force spokesman, said: "We can rebuild this, we can engineer this, we can afford this." Also that the focus should now be on working with the city. "We really need to be working with the city because otherwise we're fighting with the city and when this community fights with the city, it ain't pretty. The city does not want that and this community does not want that. We want to work with David Doig."
  • John Vinci, renowned restorer and architect, said: " I absolutely agree it's doable. It's all a matter of intelligence and how you spend your money. If you have a community that cares to do the right thing, then why don't you listen to them?...I've been fighting for preservation since I was 19 or 20, and there's been so few successes. When you're on the brink of a success it's really important."
  • Jack Spicer of the Task Force said, "With the concessions that have been made so far, we're literally eight feet apart in terms of compromise."

Meanwhile, the city does not intend to proceed until at least next spring according to park district superintendent David Doig and spokesperson Julian Green. Green added This property is very important from a historic sense and an aesthetic sense to the hyde Park community. We do not want to go forward with something that the community will not be happy with... Certainly if they have addressed those engineering and structural issues that's something we are willing to take a look at."

One point of contention is that of addressing the structural concerns, as mentioned by Mr. Green, above, no matter how much many believe "it's not about the engineering but about politics". The July 13 Full Report (in Save the Point) gives a point by point answer; the short version outlines the design particulars and cost items. The engineering includes stable adherence of concrete and limestone and the material and bracing under the revetment. For a view of the Task Force plan, see Point Access Plan coverage, click Cross Section Views in the page index. The July 13 cross-section view shows reinforced concrete slab and not just compacted stone fill under the promenade. The city said that fill is too unstable even with steel sheet wall, piles, and a concrete promenade. The city has not released a cross section or other engineering view to the public in the past one and a quarter year although it has released such for most other sections of the eight-miles to be rebuilt.

The view of many, this writer observes, is that they care much less what is under the revetment (so long as it holds up) than about what the revetment looks like and its usefulness and more about safety than access (although they want that access to be easy for persons of all and varied abilities and think stairs are safer than ramps). The dilemma is that if the city is given a head to do "extreme engineering" underneath, that will balloon the cost and leave little for making the "look" and "usefulness" right—Then we're back to ruining the Point to save it.

This plan goes well beyond the city plan for access while combining essential engineering design from the Corps and Galvin plans. Wheelchair access is provided without switchbacks around the entire Point from both ends and from a ramp at the east end. (These access points also serve as unobtrusive drainage swales). Other, gradually stepped access routes friendly to both the public and to those with various abilities (including walker-using) is provided at other points. Safe, easy access points into the water is also provided especially on the north end. The plan provides for safe water access regardless of water level within known historic range. The plan does not, however, provide full access along every step-level of the limestone steps. That is not possible while keeping limestone steps and is considered by experts and persons with disabilities both unsafe and an open invitation to bikes and roller blades where they really shouldn't safely go. (So far, no one has found a way to discourage swarms of cyclists on the promenade under either the city or Task Force plan although some solutions are being considered.)

The plan also details design pointing to practical engineering solutions for revetment reconstruction utilizing limestone blocks at all visible vertical surfaces. The plan does replace wooden cribs with concrete and steel--an essential concession to the city that the Task Force believes is necessary and can be done without compromising the look and experience of the Point-- and extends the revetment outward with a new ribbon of promenade (especially noticeable on the south side) of parallel 5-foot wide (hopefully tinted and textured) concrete (for access) and sloped/curbed limestone cap blocks pointing outward on the outside (for strength, safety and looks). Steel will be covered to its top with descending limestone toe-stone blocks or with posts (in deeper waters) on the outside edge. The full feel of limestone will remain. The plan leaves large sections of the south side in back of the new promenade alone except for filling voids. The existing east end platform is kept, filled, and girdled on the outside. The north side will be totally rebuilt. Assurance is given that trees above the revetment will not have to be disturbed. This plan will not be nearly as cheap as Mr. Galvin's earlier proposal, but the Task Force hopes the cost is less or comparable to the Corps/city's. Getting a a costing-out is in process by another engineering design firm, Charles Shabica.


Point rehab held off until next year, says parks CEO

Hyde Park Herald, June 29, 2003. By Maurice Lee

Chicago Park District Superintendent David Doig announced Monday tha there was "no way" construction would begin on Promontory Point in 2003. Doig also said the park district, working with the Southeast Chicago Commission, would present renderings for the project within the "next couple of weeks."

Two weeks ago, Doig was widely quoted as saying construction on the Point would begin in the fall to meet the 2005 deadline stipulated in the park district's agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers. But on Monday, Doig reversed himself, saying here was too much work left to begin the project any sooner than the beginning of next year.

"There's been some confusion on this point, but we're not going to be able to start work on the project until early 2004," said Doig.

Doig's relaxed timeline buys time for those working against the city's plan to rehab the Point with concrete and steel revetments. The Community Task Force for Promontory Point, which has been fighting to preserve the Point's limestone revetments, praises the new timeline. Task Force member Greg Lane said the softening of the park district's stance opens the door to greater collaboration between the community and the park district, and slows down the clock on negotiations.

"That's great," said Lane. "This opens up real opportunities.."

Doig also agreed to a SECC proposal to publicly present renderings to the community of the city's plan ford the Point within a few weeks. But Doig made it clear the park district would work with the "entire" community—not exclusively the Task Force— through the SECC.

But according to Lane, regardless as to how the park district works with the community, the important thing is that it does.

"It's important for the park district to work with all the stakeholders in the community, not just the Task force," said Lane. "And we plan to work with them as well."

Promontory Point rocks get reprieve

Chicago Tribune, July 14, 2003. By Brett McNeil

As a Hyde Park community group continued to press its case that a South Side peninsula's 70-year-old limestone lake wall can be repaired rather than replaced, city officials Sunday said they have backed off plans to begin construction on the Promontory Point project this fall.

"We don't see construction beginning until next spring," Park District spokesman Julian Green said. "This property is very important from a historic sense and an aesthetic sense to the Hyde Park community. We do not want to go forward with something that the community will not be happy with."

...At an outdoor news conference Sunday on the Point, where a blue-green Lake Michigan served as backdrop, the task force released its latest and most complete plan for salvaging the peninsula's limestone breakwater.

With a $17,1 million price tag, the alternate plan calls for preserving the weathered limestone blocks were possible, and otherwise replacing them with newly quarried stones, to maintain the lakeshore's historic look between Garfield Drive and 57th Street.

The group's plan also calls for steel pilings to be installed in front of existing but badly aged wooden protective piling, and for a concrete pathway to provide access to the water for disabled park-goers along an existing lake will promenade.

"We can build this, we can engineer this, we can afford this," said greg Lane, a spokesman for the ...Task Force...

The city's concrete-and-steel replacement wall fo the Point, designed by STS Consultants of Vernon Hills, will cost an estimated $22 million, the park district's Green said.

An earlier version of the task force plan, released May 1, was criticized by the city a s unworkable. The design unveiled sunday offered a point-by-point response to those concerns, including whether the group's proposed lake wall would be pounded apart by crashing waves.

"There's no question in my mind that these structures can be rebuilt," said Charles Shabica, a coastal engineer hired by the task force.

Frank Heitzman, an Oak Park architect, who helped draft the task force plan, said it was guided by a spirit of preservation.

"Preservation means don't do anything until you absolutely have to do it, then do repair first," Heitzman said. "If you have to do more than repair, then restore."

...A Department of Environment spokesman declined to comment on the newly unveiled plan until officials have a chance to review it. Green said Doig would likely respond to the task force plan Tuesday.


Coverage and assessment of the May 1 preliminary report (access) in Hyde Park Herald, March 26 and May 7, 2003

[Ed. note: The impression is given that the University has been silent or turned its back rather than engaged on the Point. Indeed, the Herald explicitly took this position in a previous issue and a recent issue. Indeed, this March 26 article seems to take a broad view of what the University could-do-if-it-would-do. This writer wishes to acknowledge the key role of University officers took in 2001 in bringing the city to the table and in brokering a compromise plan, one which did not fly but was as far as the city would go at that time. The University has not been aloof behind the scenes since. In recent weeks, the University has become more active on the issue. Not all of what the University and its community arm/ally SECC have undertaken is revealed in the article below, and it would be inappropriate to consider what persons said in confidence that they will or may do. The March 26 article also goes quite far in construing task force members thoughts about their relations and conversations with the University. Once past this controversy, the article is an excellent summary of the plan and where matters stand. The May 7 article, on the other hand, substantially tones down the reluctance of the Mayor and Superintendent Doig to compromise, as given in the following editorial, in the May 2 Reader, and in personal communications. Gary Ossewaarde

Activists seek university's backing in Point dispute

Hyde Park Herald, March 26, 2003. by Maurice Lee

After more than two years of silence, the University of Chicago may be taking its first tentative steps into the brouhaha surrounding the Promontory Point Revetment Project.

The move comes as the Promontory Point Task Force continues to build community support for an alternative Promontory Point reconstruction plan.

Last week, the South East Chicago Commission, a community watchdog funded by the university, met with members of the Promontory Point Task Force to view the Task Force's plans for the repair and restoration of the Point.

For the past two years the clout-heavy university has been noticeably absent from the highly charged discourse on the Point, and community members hope the meeting signals a shift for the university.

"I can't speak for [the university or the SECC], but the indications to me were they were impressed with the presentations," Hyde Park Historical Society member Devereux Bowly, Jr. [said]. "I am most hopeful that their views will be positive and they will help persuade the city and the park district."

While officials from both the SECC and the university refused to comment specifically on the Task Force plan until after the Chicago Park District has an opportunity to respond next month, it was clear the plan raised some eyebrows.

"There are still some open questions that need to be answered, however I would say that the plans have progressed dramatically over the last couple of years," said SECC president Valerie Jarrett.

University vice-president for Community and Governmental Affairs Hank Webber added he was encouraged that consensus on the issue could be reached in the not-too-distant future.

"This clearly an issue that many people in our community think is important," said Webber. "I am certainly hopeful that over the next few months there could be a resolution."

The Task Force plan for Promontory Point is according to Task force member Jack Spicer, a "concession" between the city's plan and the community's wishes--integrating accessibility, functionality, and aesthetic concerns into its overall design.

Whereas the park district-Army Corps of Engineers plan calls for the replacement of the existing limestone and wood revetment with a larger concrete and steel version, the Task Force plan calls for a minimal impact to the original structure.

Under the Task Force plan, construction crews would only repair the stone revetment where needed. Much of the concrete platform located at the far eastern tip of the Point and a nearly 600-foot-long stretch of the Point's south face located near 57th Street Beach would only receive basic repairs, according to the plan.

Once the construction is completed on the step revetment, crews will extend the lowest level out an additional 10 feet into the lake to create a promenade to encircle the Point and then install steel sheet pilings around the perimeter to protect the structure from the lake's wave action.

The steel pilings will be hidden in the design by limestone capstones when viewed from land, and by either a toe-stone system of stacked limestone blocks underneath the water or by wood pilings.

The toe-stone system, which will be set close in to the shore, and the wood pilings, which will be installed in the deeper waters at the east end of the Point, will act as shock absorbers to diminish the energy waves can transmit into the revetment, extending its life. The toe-stones will also act as a final set of steps to allow swimmers to walk into the water.

Task Force plans include several points for both handicapped and standard access to the promenade level, and three locations for access to the water and a "submerged beach." Set on the north face of the Point, the submerged beach feature will allow disabled visitors to the Point to directly access the lake for recreation. An ADA-certified ramp would guide visitors in wheelchairs into the water, while persons with difficulty navigating sloped surfaces can descend to the water on a set of stairs.

While many of the functional details of the task force design, including steps, ramps and a five-foot wide wheelchair path running the length of the promenade, would be constructed of concrete to ensure uniform surfaces for both normal and handicapped users, the structural and aesthetic elements of the new revetment would retain the Point's classic limestone blocks.

So far, Spicer said the Task Force's plan for the park has been well received by the community. Encouraged by the plan's reception by the SECC, Spicer suggests that as more Hyde Park organizations begin to support the plan, the ball has now been lobbed into the park district's court to either accept the plan or put forth a new one of their own.

"I think they really treated us well and the impression we left with was positive," said Spicer. "I think that the general impression I got was that the burden is now on the park district.


[Below: first] : The Promontory Point Community Task Force Plan for the limestone revetment at the Point calls for limestone to be incorporated into all visible faces of the revetment. In the plan, concrete is used to provide uniform accessibility surfaces.

[second]: A close-up of the plan's submerged beach feature. Networks of stairs and ramps will allow universal access to the water for Point visitors. Toe-stones set in the waters surrounding the Point offer additional protection for the new revetment and convenient access to the water for swimmers.
Herald March 26

Heitzman Task Force plan, as in Herald, March, 2003. overall and closeup of ADA ramp


Pullaway view of above and just to northwest of the magnified section above, from July 13 plan.

Another closeup as of July 13, 2003 of Point Plan ADA featrues, northwest of above

Below: closeup schematic looking northwest at the north side abilities access and submerged beach water access. As rendered in July 13 Plan Presentation (short)Herald, May 7.

Rendering from atop revetment of  July 13 2003 Task Force Plan, surface-all;limestone except part of ramp and promenade


(Not reproduced in the articles above:) View of the east ("coffins") part of the Point ("E" in the Plan) from the May1/July 13 Task Force Plan. How much this section needs to be replaced is key to whether the Task Force July 13 estimate of $17.1 is viable.

Detail of east end ADA features, July 2003 Task Force Plan


Not part of the articles, but here is a cross-section view of Segment B) west-north side) engineering concepts in the July 13 final Task Force Plan. The Task Force here (as distinct from the preliminary Heitzman-Tjaden May 1 plan) uses a reinforced concrete slab under the promenade above stone fill. The Park District maintained that stone fill would not be feasible and would be unstable even with steel sheet wall and wood piles in front. It remained to be seen July 18 whether the change (included in the $17.1 million Shabica cost estimate) will gain acceptance. The same with the substitution for toe stone: up to 5 2-stacks of limestone blocks going down into the water from the promenade with a filter fabric in front. Note that these are design and feasibility concepts. Note again how much further the Point will extend out into the lake under both the city and Task Force plans.

July 13 concept

Cross sectional, Segment B Task force Plan July 2003


Earlier, May 1 concept

more cross sectional, Task Force plan July 2003


Point plan praised in HP, but parks chief stonewalls

Hyde Park Herald, May 7, 2003. by Caitlin Devitt

The Community Task Force for Promontory Point unveiled a comprehensive plan last week it hopes will serve as an alternative to the city's rehab designs for the Point, even as the park district chief warned the South East Chicago Commission (SECC) that the city was no closer to compromise than before.

After months of speaking with church groups, condo associations and community organizations, the Task Force last week held a public meeting at the Hyde Park Union Church presenting an "evolving" limestone-preserving plan that counters the city's concrete-and-steel based designs. The plan, detailed extensively in the March 26 2003 Herald, includes prairie-style limestone steps with winding concrete ramps for enhanced wheelchair access and a promenade that extends up to 10 feet further into the lake.

But despite near-unanimous praise for the plan from the more than 150 residents at the meeting, many worried aloud over the city's reportedly frosty reception to the plan earlier in the week.

According to some who attended a SECC meeting Monday, April 28, Chicago Park District Superintendent David Doig reported the park district was still up in the air on the alternative plan, but that the SECC committee should not get its hopes up for a limestone-preserving plan.

"He was negative because he didn't want people to think it was a done deal," said Sue Freehling, a member of the SECC executive committee who was at the meeting. She said she was surprised he came to the meeting just to announce he was undecided.

"It was shocking that there was nothing to talk about," she said. "He did say he didn't have to listen to us...and he threatened that the point would fall into the lake because they could lose the funding," Freehling said.

Neither Doig nor a park district spokesman returned repeated phone calls from the Herald.

At the Union Church meeting, three days after Doig's report to the SECC, the question for residents quickly became: how do we get city officials to take the plan seriously?

"The political problem is our real problem," said Task Force member Greg Lane, who reported the tale of North Siders fighting the city's rehab plan at Belmont Harbor, where after a year of meetings, the city finally refused to alter its plan and crushed the limestone rocks within a week. The story drew gasps from the audience.

But Lane and others on the Task Force emphasized their hope for working with the city to negotiate a final deal to preserve the Point's limestone.

"We need to work with them," said Lane, encouraging residents to write to the mayor. After gathering public comments on the plan for the next 45 days, the Task force will call for a June "summit" with city officials, according to Lane.

"It's time to move forward," said Lane, ending with a question to city officials: "Will you sit down with us and resolve it? Will you show up at our summit?"

The Task Force's limestone based plan will be on display at the Medici, 1357 E. 57th St., and at the 55th Street Hyde Park Co-op, 1526 East 55th Street, and on the Internet at www.savethepoint.org.


Mayor's silence on Point speaks volumes—editorial

Hyde Park Herald, May 7, 2003

Meigs Field. The words send chills down the spines of community activists across the city, and Hyde Parkers are no exception. "What if the mayor draws big Xes on the Point?" someone asked last week at a community meeting. "What if the bulldozers come in the middle of the night?" asked another.

Nothing seems that far fetched after the middle-of-the-night X-ed out runways of Meigs Field, a heavy-handed move by the mayor that was, remarked a resident, "discouraging."

Discouraging indeed.

Parks superintendent David Doig met last week to discuss the limestone-preserving Point plan with the executive committee of the South East Chicago Commission, the development arm of the University of Chicago. He made the trip just to tell the SECC that he had not yet made up his mind on whether to accept the plan, but according to sources, he declared, "I don't have to listen to Hyde Park if I don't want to." A childish thing to say, but he is right, he does not have to listen to us. There is only one man he has to listen to. And that's pretty discouraging, especially considering that we pay Doig's salary as well as the salary of the man who tells Doig what to do.

There is an anecdote in an article in last week's Chicago Reader about Hyde Park's Community Task Force, a group that has been leading the fight to save the limestone rocks and has spent $50,000 coming up with an alternative plan to save the Point's limestone. Mayor Daley the story goes, was at a North Side breakfast meeting when a resident brought up the lakefront rehab plan and mentioned those working to save Belmont Harbor were working with Hyde Parkers. According to the story, Daley responded with something like, "As to those people in Hyde Park, they're not getting anything. Promontory Point can sink into the lake, and God help them if it does."

This is getting downright depressing.

Besides that little anecdote in the Reader, the mayor has been noticeably silent on the issue, managing to avoid what should be a key part of his job: to negotiate and resolve conflicts in the city. But for a quiet man, he certainly knows how to make himself heard with messages like the X-ing over Meigs.

Doig's pessimistic report to the SECC last week was a message from the mayor. And when Department of Environment commissioner Marcia Jimenez claims there is not limestone available for the Point, it's a message from the mayor. These officials are careful, and we can be pretty sure their messages have been vetted by the mayor.

Maybe the mayor is testing Hyde Parkers' reactions to repeated refusals and avoidance, or maybe he is truly dead set against the plan. Either way, he should realize it will be difficult to demolish the limestone without having Hyde Parkers out at the Point blocking bulldozers within a few hours. The mayor is not the only one who can say no.

Alderman Leslie Hairston (5th), in spite of her efforts, cannot move Daley to publicly acknowledge Hyde Parkers' fight against the city's Point plan. And the University of Chicago has turned its back on the neighborhood by not even trying to move the mayor to acknowledge the most important Hyde Park battle in years.

With the $50,000 raised from Hyde Parkers and grants, the task force had come up with a plan to preserve the limestone rocks while rehabbing and strengthening the park in a number of ways (see story, page 1). It's a good plan, superior to the city's aesthetically, financially and environmentally, improving on original plans for accessibility, utility and maintenance.

The limestone-based plan will be available for a 45-day comment period and then will be published. After publication, the task force will call for a summit with city officials. The man who has spent his entire professional life on the public payroll should meet with his constituents on this important issue.

Mr. Mayor, it is difficult to represent us if you refuse to even acknowledge us.

Top including Series 2003-04 Navigator. Previous (#1, July 13 TF Access Plan part 1). Next (#3, city counter/compromise). Latest