Point home. Latest news and discussion
Promontory Point dispute- late 2004
his page is brought to you by the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, its Parks Committee, and its website, www.hydepark.org. Support our work: Join the Conference! Contact committee chair and topic author Attn: Gary Ossewaarde.
1: July 13 Task Force Preservation and Access Plan text
2: Reports and text, views, links to view plans
3: City counter/compromise plan, reinstated January 04
4: September 10 public briefing and summary
5: Reports of the Mediator of the Working Group meetings and process disc/complaints
6: Reports and Appeals March-December 2003
7: Reports, Appeals, Press from Jan.-Feb. breakdown period, incl. Mediator's Statement
8: Point dispute-statements-coverage-Rossi letter late Feb./March 2004
9: The March 9 summit and costing tasks to lead to final working group report due April 15
10: Listing on the '10 Most Endangered' list; disputes over plans and 1994 Memorandum and defenses of the rival plans
11: Latest Promontory Point news
12: From the Mediator's Final Report May 2004
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 [This page]. IHPA studying plans, to comment on what has; Rep. Jackson moves, Kalven views and retrospective
16: 2005 through June
17: Mid 2005: Jackson Amendment, IHPA-CPD, HPKCC and other letters of appeal
18: August through the Sept. 15 2005 meeting, HPKCC and Sen. Obama positions
Latest page and news
Report of Mediator Jamie Kalven and assisting engineer Wayne Brunzel is on the
website (all 32 pages). Main parts
of text. Highlights
of the report are here, below.
Schedule of ad hoc committee meetings and recommendations
The vast number of letters that have poured into the Hyde Park Herald since the breakdown of talks can be viewed in their entirety in the Herald website, www.hpherald.com. The direct url is www.hpherald.com/pointletters022504.pdf. Both plans in their present form date from July, 2003. The subsequent protracted mediated negotiations between the city (Park District, Department of Environment and Army Corps) and the Task Force resulted in agreement and compromise on a number points but in no new plan(s), an assessment of results of that process are expected in the Final Report- presented but not yet released. Top
State of the issue mid-June, 2004: another ad hoc committee formed; August: Il Hist Pres Agency was studying partial city plans, expecting more developed drawings but at year's end backed off that, will issue its findings...when?
It became evident by the second week of July that Ald. Hairston and Preckwinkle had failed, if they so attempted, to convince the city and park district to go with the 4-step intermediary solution. Unconfirmed report is that the park district told both IHPA and the Governor that the Corps will go no further than the 2-step (figure 1) plan and that the Governor called the IHPA Director. Whether IHPA will give before any pressure, if applied, and in what manner remained to be seen. IHPA staff said they would take their findings/ discussions from their July 12 day-long meeting with the Corps etc. back to Springfield without a deadline to report, and would not meet with the ad hoc until it had digested the material from the planners and the plans that were to be further developed (according to Ald. Hairston hopefully by the end of August). IHPA head Bill Wheeler indicated he found plans "generally conforming" to preservation requirements. (The ad hoc stakeholders committee on the Point, which was to meet July 19, has postponed its meeting.) IHPA staff would not speculate on whether they will file suit if the Corps ignores an unfavorable decision by IHPA. Details below, more in Recent Series #14 Ad hoc.
Nevertheless, at the July ward meeting, Alderman Hairston said she "hopes [all] can soon reach agreement and hopes to see a preservation-minded design." "IHPA, which was excluded for 2 years, is currently reviewing material and has requested the future design by the end of August." She is "keeping her fingers crossed." Others were speculating on IHSA accepting the city plan and a law suit being filed. See in #14 Ad hoc.
Further views in Ad hoc page
September: IHPA and city in slow dance
From Hyde Park Herald, September 8, 2004. by Mike Stevens. State agency chief resigns
[Several of us observing the situation doubt it is likely there is any connection between the director's leaving the agency and the Point issue and believe that at worse the agency is going very thoroughly through the motions, or may achieve a resolution. And the agency could have some time ago given a simple accession to the city long ago were it so inclined.]
He might still be on the website by Maynard Crossland, the director of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, has left the building. Crossland resigned as the chief of the state preservation watchdog agency suddenly last week raising questions about what direction the next appointee might take on the contentious lake wall rehab at Promontory Point.
The news comes as the IHPA and the city have locked horns on how to move forward on the long-stalled project in a series of letters obtained last week by the Herald.
Crossland's Aug. 31 resignation came one week after he told IHPA's Board of Directors of his plans, IHPA spokesman Dave Blanchette said. An official announcement of who will replace Crossland was expected this week but a rumored front-runner for the position was Bob Coomer, the current superintendent of historic sites at the IHPA.
The new appointee will inherit the responsibility of finalizing plans for rebuilding the limestone revetment at Hyde Park's well known lakefront park. The same group of people who have been dealing with the day-to-day details of the Point project remain at IHPA, Blanchette said. "[Crossland's resignation] should not change the discussions in any way," Blanchette said.
Fifth Ward Ald. Leslie Hairston brought the IHPA into the planning process as part of her ad hoc closed-door Point committee saying the group had been left out of discussions for two years.
Following a July 12 meeting with representatives from the city and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the IHPA opted out of more committee meetings and giving a thumbs up to the city's proposal until the plans were further developed.
In a July 20 letter, the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Department of Environment asked for the IHPA's signed assurance that their controversial current proposal met federal preservation guidelines before preparing and delivering the 25 percent design of the revetment structure. The letter outlined specific features of the city's design including two concrete revetment steps and two limestone steps. "Due to the cost and effort required to modify engineered drawings for resubmission, we request your assurance that the design concept as describe above does meet the Secretary of the Interior's standards," the letter states before asking for Crossland's signature.
City project manager Vasile Jurca said the letter was not asking for an official OK--rather it would have been a written record that the proposal seemed in line with the federal rehabilitation standards for preservation. "We're not saying bless [our design] and go away," Jurca said.
Crossland did not sign the letter and directed Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer Anne Haaker to respond. "Before we can assure you that the design meets the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation (SISR), we need further clarification on several points," Haaker rights in an Aug. 25 letter.
Haaker lists every specific element outlined by the city and asks for more details on design features as well as an assessment of how the changes compare with current conditions at the Point. "We would still need to review a 25 percent design and meet with your agencies along with the Corps of Engineers before approval," Haaker writes.
The city is working on the 25 percent design and will provide answers to the IHPA' s questions, Jurca said.
Point preservation activist Jack Spicer applauded the state agency's cautionary approach. "We are happy that the IHPA seems to be taking preservation at Promontory Point very seriously. we hope that they will continue to examine the [city's] plan very carefully," Spicer said.
The Community Task Force for Promontory Point, whose petition to preserve the limestone at Promontory Point now carries 4,035 signatures, continues to organize for a possible legal case against the city to prevent demolition of the Point during reconstruction, spokesman Greg Lane said.
"The law requires preservation. The community requires preservation. We certainly feel like we are being forced into court," Lane said.
Crossland's departure marks the second time in a year the Point negotiations have seen the resignation of a chief of one of the four agencies involved in the $21 million project. Former Park District Superintendent David Doig's resignation last winter preceded the demise of the closed-door talks between the city and the task force.
2004 year-end summary by the Herald: Point takes turns
December 29. 2004. By Mike Stevens
The debate over the proposed lakewall rehab at Promontory Point took plenty of dramatic turns in 2004 but did not move much closer to a resolution.
In the first month of 2004, talks collapsed between city and Hyde Park representatives trying to work out a compromise plan to rehab the Point's historic limestone revetment, delaying construction for well over one year. City officials tabled the project after representatives from the Community Task Force for Promontory Point refused to accept the city's final revetment design, which features the top two steps made the top two steps made of limestone and the bottom two steps and promenade made of concrete. "We've given it our best shot and I think the burden shifts to the community to support a plan that is feasible," said Rob Rejman, Director of Lakefront Construction for the Chicago Park District, said.
Community Task Force members balked at agreeing "in principal" to the city's proposal because it was almost identical to the proposal made before the six-month mediation process started, Greg Lane said. "There is no progress in what they are offering," Lane said in February. After a briefing from both sides, an annoyed Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said, "I think we need to do more than get in a room and agree to disagree."
In the weeks after the talks collapsed, roughly 50 letters poured into the Herald supporting a "preservation" approach that minimized the impact to the limestone revetment. But one letter, with nearly 200 signatures, urged Hairston to accept the city's current proposal. "It appeared to me that we might lose the money if we didn't use it," said longtime Hyde Parker Judith Getzens, who "signed" the letter after receiving it. in her e-mail. The Community Task Force downplayed the concerns and later gathered more than 4,000 handwritten signatures in the spring supporting a "preservation" approach.
Meanwhile the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois placed the Point in its annual "Ten Most Endangered Historic Sites" in March because of concern about the proposed rehab plans.
Shortly afterwards, a report sent to Hairston claimed that city consultants inflated cost estimates for a "preservation" approach. In a 23-page report, mediator Jamie Kalven and engineering consultant Wayne Brunzell refuted both maintenance and material costs used by the city's engineers, STS Consultants. Pressure to design a low-maintenance revetment has "seriously skewed the analysis of maintenance costs, Kalven wrote.
STS Consultants discounted Kalven's conclusions in a nine-page response saying his analysis relied on a design that does no meet required federal standards. During the dust-up, Hairston formed an ad hoc Point committee in the beginning of June. Through this committee, Hairston pushed the heretofore absent Illinois Historic Preservation Agency to the forefront of the closed-door talks. "Since preservation is such a key component [the IHPA] had to be at the table," Hairston said after the group's first meeting.
The committee included representatives from all three agencies involved in the project: the Chicago Department of to the Environment, the Chicago Park District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The committee also included representatives from two local groups (the Community Task Force and a group of residents who support the city's current proposal.) and Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th).
Following a July 12 meeting with the city and the U.S. Army Cops of Engineers, the IHPA opted out of more committee meetings giving a thumbs up to the city's proposal until the plans were further developed. The committee has not met since. It is still unclear what power, if any, the closed-door committee possessed.
The IHPA, who must sign of on Point plans, asked the city for further developed designs to gauge if the plans met federal preservation guidelines. In a July 20 letter, the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Department of Environment asked for the IHPA's signed assurance that their current proposal met those guidelines before preparing and delivering a more complete design.
The IHPA refused. Fearing that political pressure might cause the IHPA to OK the city's plan, the Community Task Force threatened a federal lawsuit to stop the city from building two concrete steps and two limestone steps to replace the park's all-limestone lakewall.
The Park District, Army Corps and the Department of Environment are currently working on finishing designs, according to Gen. Supt. Timothy Mitchell.
2004 quick timeline
- Talks over the Point collapsed in January then the Working Group commissioned a study of costs and feasibility of a "preservation" plan, conducted by mediator Jamie Kalven and engineering consultant Wayne Brunzel, resulting in a final report given to Alderman Hairston then released in May.
- A dispute and rivalry broke out between groups supporting the city's latest (July 03) and Task Force's latest (July 03) public plans and over meanings of preservation (with the Point placed on a major advocacy group's 10 Most Endangered List) and about 10-year-old agreements (Memoranda of understanding) governing the project.
- The disagreements and battle partially moved to Springfield and Washington.
- The Task Force is starting a Conservancy for the Point and in the meantime successfully fundraising ($10,000 and a like if matched from Driehaus and $2,000 from Polk Bros. Foundation are the largest amounts; $8-20,000 more is sought). Plans or appeals by those favoring the Compromise city plan will be given as announced.
- The feds cut the overall revetment project by about $31 million last year; Mayor Daley seeks restoration of at least $31 million.
- Alderman Hairston declined to take an immediate position on the Kalven Report. (See her reasons in the ad hoc page.) She later said the Kalven Report shows that preservation is doable. After private briefings with community groups/stakeholders and city agency managers, Alderman Hairston convened a breakfast meeting June 3. Despite reported statements of hard positions (including a formal critique of the Mediator's Report by the city's engineer firm), the attendees agreed to form an expanded ad hoc committee to reach a "close out" plan or position, with deadline of July 31. Invited to join the federal and local partners is the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (which must rule on a final plan). Other participants included Ald. Preckwinkle (4th) mediator Kalven, the Task Force, a representative from the group favoring acceptance of the city plan, South East Chicago Commission (also standing in for the University), representatives of the Hyde Park Historical Society, Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois, and Friends of the Parks. (Invitation of the already-involved IHPA perhaps blunts potential criticism that the roster tilts toward a pro-city outcome. ) It next first met June 28. In print in July, the Task Force executive committee said it believed the ad hoc committee to be weighted against preservation except IHPA and wanted press presence. Ald. Hairston gave reasons she believes this is not a good idea. See #14: Ad hoc committee.
- In mid-June Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. said he would introduce legislation mandating a preservation solution. He has not done so.
- The Task Force announced it received a matching grant from the Driehaus Foundation and a smaller grant from Polk Bros. Foundation and that the Task Force is initiating a petition drive. June 23, the Task Force published in the Herald the list of 325 persons who gave to the total of $85,000 raised to date. (Some persons were inadvertently left out.) The Task Force also has a new petition drive in effect, having garnered over 5,000 signatures so far. (The first 3,500 were presented to the ad hoc committee June 28.)
- June 23 the Herald published a certain-to-be-highly-controversial editorial critical of the leadership of alderman Hairston and saying she should have mandated a limestone preservation solution. The editorial, Alderman Hairston's rebuttal, and a counterpoint by the Herald are in Recent Series #14 (Point ad hoc committee and beyond).
- June 28, the ad hoc committee met. Uninvited guests and the press were excluded. It was decided or agreed that the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency would meet July 12 with the Corps, Park District and Department of Environment to decide what can/will be preserved at the Point. A recommendation was supposed to be made July 19 to and considered by the ad hoc committee. (July 19 meeting postponed)
- On July 2 the Army Corps of Engineers presented its documents to IHPA. These included the 25% Plans of December 2000, 75% plans of July 2001 [essentially the "9-Point Plan" rejected at the October 2001 public meeting and subsequently rejected by IHPA], the STS Options Review (2003 or 2004) including its Figure 1 (the city's July 2003 "Compromise" Plan--top 2 rows limestone only), May 17 204 Report of the Mediator, and June 1 rebuttal by the Corps of Engineers. Cover letter conclusion:
- "As expressed at the June 28, 2004 meeting, we believe that in-kind replacement of the existing step-stone revetment is infeasible due to reasons related to structural stability, design life, construction cost, and maintenance cost..."
- "We feel confident that any effect on historic properties can be mitigated by completion of HABS/HAER documentation." s/Gary E. Johnston, Colonel, U.S. Army District Engineer to Bill Wheeler, State Historic Preservation Officer.
- Two important outcomes of the June 28 meeting were at the time that 1) the thrust and the burden shifted to what can/will be preserved--what kind of preservation plan, 2) the IHPA became, at least pro tem, the key holder for Point rehab-significantly one agency charged with preservation. Significantly, Mr. Blanchard of IHPA, who attended the meeting, was quoted as saying things are moving toward limestone or something like it and a victory for preservation. He also said the agency had been left out and this was the best meeting on the subject.)
Mr. Kalven and Mr. Brunzell (mediator's engineer) later responded to the city engineers' 9-page critique by saying, "I see no need to alter the conclusions and recommendations of our May 17 report.. [Preservation is a process rather than a particular outcome:] "It's not a dramatic shift. It's a pivoting of perspective."
- Aldermen Hairston and Preckwinkle were believed to be working for a solution that had 4 steps of limestone and the promenade concrete--in line with Kalven's report. It became evident by the second week of July that they had failed to convince the city and park district to go with the 4-step intermediary solution. Unconfirmed report is that the park district told both IHPA and the Governor that the Corps will go no further than the 2-step (figure 1) plan and that the Governor called the IHPA Director. Whether IHPA will give before any pressure, if applied, and in what manner remained to be seen. IHPA staff said they would take their findings/discussions from their July 12 day-long meeting with the Corps etc. back to Springfield without a deadline to report (the July 19 ad hoc committee meeting being postponed). IHPA staff would not speculate on whether they will file suit if the Corps ignores an unfavorable decision by IHPA. All sides appear to be preparing their measures, even before the July 19 ad hoc meeting, assuming the latter takes place.
The Task Force sent IHPA a set of documents to counter the position of the Corps, particularly noting that photodocumentation (which has to be done as part of the project anyway) is in no way a substitute for preserving the Point. See analysis, options in ad hoc (Recent page #14).
What Alderman Hairston says about her role and the Kalven report. (full letter in Point ad hoc page. See further letters there also.)
....For more than three years, I have worked diligently to prevent this community's interests from being trampled. For more than three years, I have fought hard against the bureaucratic indifference that has threatened to bury one of our neighborhood's greatest treasures under concrete....
....I directed the Point Working Group Mediator to put together the final Working Group report which establishes the feasibility of a preservation approach to the rehabilitation of Promontory Point....
....The fight to preserve Promontory Point is not a competition. There is a process underway. This process is our best hope for achieving a preservation driven rehabilitation of Promontory Point without a protracted legal battle. I am not willing to undercut that process for the sake of grabbing a few headlines....
....The IHP[S] is one of the signatories... and now is the only agency in the agreement whose mission is preservation. Until now, they have been omitted from the process....
Congressman Jackson has stepped up to address the Army Corps of Engineers because they are a federal entity; he is addressing the issue of preservation at the federal level. We hope that his office can secure the necessary funding with a definite timeline....
[T]his process has been necessary and is in fact crucial to marshalling the full weight of the community behind a preservation plan before moving forward....
I am not "delegating Point discussion to the committee;" I am building consensus in a community that prides itself on its independence and its intelligence. For me to simply decide the issue for the sake of expediency would be to pre-empt a process that has been a model of community involvement and civic engagement. We will continue this process until its agreed upon conclusion July 31 and in the end we hope to have a plan that the entire community can unite behind. ...
Let me assure you that our community's unity may well be put to the test. The city has made it clear that they do not care if the project is completed or not. We as a community must be prepared to stand together if we are to see this through to the desired outcome.
Reflections by this writer (Gary Ossewaarde) on options, written in fall, 2004
OPTIONS open, in this writer's opinion, for the alderman and community seemed rather murky. STS engineers continue to say a preservation plan can't be done and doesn't meet the standards/follow the guidelines of the Corps and would involve new limestone whose cost can't be determined without "formal bids" (which is possible only for them to ask for, once there is a "locally-preferred" plan! Interestingly, they got (and accepted?) a bid of $270 per ton for the more modest limestone job--largely re-emplacement--at 56th). The Park District representatives continue to say preservation plans do not meet "Army Corp specifications," although the Mediator's report was based explicitly on those specifications. It is entirely possible that if the planning partners do not agree with the recommendation (especially if this indicates a hostile direction by IHPA) the city will walk away from the project or fight it in Washington. On the other hand, it is unclear what the ad hoc committee, the Task Force, or IHPA would do were the the recommendation to be pessimistic on preservation.
Meanwhile, the mediator has maintained there is more common ground than differences and that questions about his design can be answered at the meetings. Press and probably many citizens grouse about there needing to be an end to endless experts, committees, and information gathering. The Herald says the alderman should mobilize the community parties to an effort to "move the park district to the right starting off point, and that is limestone preservation. It's time to close this out."
Again, it comes down largely, on the high ground, to values of preservation and of fiscal responsibility and how these are defined then weighed. The threshold question is "responsible preservation" vs known practices-costs-results standard fare.
On the political level, the city and the Task Force with mediator are still taking hard positions for their preferred plans, and Alderman Hairston apparently either wishes and feels she must keep trying to get the city to back off or compromise or does not feel she is yet in a position to take a strong choice between plans without at least giving an expanded set of parties a chance to come to a choice or middle ground--even though some are saying this looks weak. The end of July, and certainly August, would seem to be the latest at which there has to be a consensus choice or a choice-then-perhaps-battle. A case can be made that the real decision will (legally must?) be made at the state and federal level. Gary Ossewaarde
What's in the Mediator's Final Report.
[We] "are offering it not as the last word or the definitive word but as the next word." Jamie Kalven about his plan at the Alderman's breakfast meeting.
"The controversy over Promontory Point has been widely seen as a conflict between two fundamental values: preservation and fiscal responsibility. Our analysis has delivered us to the conclusion that preservation and fiscal responsibility need not be in opposition. What is required at this juncture is a renewed design process and political statesmanship.
"We have concluded...that a preservation approach to the restoration of Promontory Point is technically and fiscally feasible.. And it yields cost estimates, developed with conservative assumptions, that are significantly lower than the budget for the City plan.:
"We recommend that a preservation design framework be adopted by the City and that an appropriate design team be constituted for the purpose of refining that design concept... a spectrum of different preservation strategies are technically and fiscally feasible.
"Our critique of STS's cost estimates for maintenance of a limestone step stone structure as a discounting in any way the City's concerns about maintenance...Greater clarity and creativity in addressing this issue might yield a plan for Promontory Point of which all parties could be proud.... In view of the flawed analysis on which the City relied, we recommend that it reanalyze maintenance costs...[and] We recommend that the City explore with the Army Corps of Engineers the possibility of creating a maintenance reserve as part of the construction budget....
"We have been privileged to witness the quality of effort that both community members and government officials have made to reach agreement... That effort in itself is an important resource. The moment is at hand to harvest it in such a way that relationships between the City and the community are strengthened."
The 32 page report is said by the Mediator Jamie Kalven to have been late because of late delivery of complex material for review and expansion of the scope to include review and costing of a third plan or option. As we study the full report more, we will expand the following section and perhaps include key sections or sentences.
- A critique of city engineering consultant STS's cost estimates of maintenance and materials costs of the community preservation costs. The report says the estimate of days-worth each year of maintenance is greatly out of line and that new limestone cost will be $178 a ton, not up to $350. The high estimates distorted overall estimates for the Preservation Plan, the report says. In fact, Kalven asserts, a limestone preservation plan (his Figure 1) would be cheaper than the city's plan and most of it is feasible (caveats on section-by-section and limestone treatment of the promenade and on types of access).
- An alternate plan by the mediator and assisting engineer Wayne Brunzel was used to compare and analyze apples with apples by costing all the Point as rebuilt alike rather than by distinct sections. Cost would be comparable to that of the city, $23 million, including a $2 million escrow for maintenance, perhaps to get over the city's balk at preservation's "unfunded mandate" for maintenance- especially at what the report calls the heavily-inflated STS cost. Such a fund, possibly in the form of a "conservancy" also had been discussed by Working Group parties, including then-Parks Superintendent David Doig. Note again that the mediator calls his plan at most a starting point for discussions on a preservation approach. Compare with details below, the report itself, and general take in Rossi's report, below. (Drop-dead decision date for the project is January 2005 when the local partners have to tell the feds how they want that year's allocation spent.)
- the report essentially takes a strong stand for a preservation model. It also supports lengthened access and alternatives.
It leaves several major issues for the refinement stage, once the "threshold issue" of preservation with steps-and-part-of-the-promenade of limestone is resolved.
Sticky items to finding a preservation solution include whether any limestone is feasible on the promenade and how much; can the width of the Promenade be reduced any further on the north and east end?; is there any way to maximize access, especially into the water?; What are the merit and preservationist mandate for the Task Force proposal for only re armoring the coffin section and only repairing the steps (vs promenade) on the south side?
But the key issue is whether the city will consider a "responsible preservation" tack or dig in its heals for the known.
Year to date: process background
January 28 talks were abruptly ended when the city cited various deadlines and constraints and asked the Community Task Force representatives for an immediate commitment to the city's revised plan of July/August, 2003 (top two steps of existing limestone blocks, the rest modified standard concrete and sheet wall.) Alderman Hairston in early February convened a meeting of parties, which agreed in principal to resume the costing and peer review process that had been agreed to before the breakdown.
In intervening weeks, large volumes of letters and e-mails were sent either supporting the Task Force and resumption of talks or suggesting compromise or acceptance of the city plan, citing possible effects of delay and loss of funding and increasingly touting the city plan as good. Indeed, the emergence of a group with an agenda different from the Task Force and seeking community support and role at the table is a major development at the moment. It should also be said that a major section of the neighborhood's elite, exemplified by the South East Chicago Commission and its board, want this matter settled, preferably in a way that maintains good relations with the city.
Basic positions of the groups and others
The Task Force set forth that 1) funding was never gained because earlier plans have been rejected by higher levels of government including the oversight agency Illinois Historic Preservation Agency as not meeting standards mandated in the 1993/4 Memorandum of Agreement--which all parties insist they wish to continue-- (primarily to "match the existing, in accordance with the standards of the US Department of Interior") and 2) legislators have given firm assurance that funding will be ensured- for a preservation plan and 3) their plan deals with the Point in seven sections according to the condition of each and should be costed that way, as was agreed upon during the previous negotiations. As a "register eligible" section, the Point is mandated for preservation treatment, the Task Force says. The Task Force prefers following the maintain-repair-replicate paradigm to each section of the revetment, including the east "coffin" sections, which it says is a part of history and does not need replacement at great cost. It says the key difference from the compromise plan is that the latter significantly alters the appearance/character-defining visible elements and that makes it unacceptable. Also, the latter plan makes it more difficult to get down to the water.
The other (generally called Rossi group for the moment) says that only recently has the Illinois Historic Agency questioned concrete revetments at all, and that the present city plan hasn't yet been presented to IHPA. Also, both the wording of the Memorandum and the state agency are advisory and the Task Force is playing loose by applying "preservation" (period and/or exclusively) to a plan that is much changed from what's there now and not much different from the city's. They also prefer a remake of the whole revetment to piecemeal retention of sections that they consider deteriorated or out-of-character.
Note-each criticizes the other's accessibility solutions as inadequate or creating new problems.
The Herald weighs in by saying the Task Force plan "is better looking, more convenient and truer to those elements--intangible and tangible--that make the Point" a special place.
The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference has consistently supported the work of the Task Force, objected to parties walking away when progress has been made, and calls for a mutually arrived at "best" solution.
March 9, 2004 a summit of various parties was convened under South East Commission auspices (though really a meeting by aldermen Hairston and Preckwinkle). Attendees included the two aldermen, 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; Henry Webber of the University of Chicago; Peter Rossi; Sue Purrington and Maurice Lee of Alderman Hairston’s staff.
To learn about the meeting and its tenor, consult one of the attendees; hearsay says it was unpleasant. The outcome was that the mediator (Jamie Kalven) and his engineering advisor, Mr. Wayne Brunzel, were to resume the structural engineering cost-out evaluation and write a (mediator's final) report tentatively due to Alderman Hairston by April 15. Both the city and task force were to provide reasonable access to their respective engineers and consultants and did so.
Thereafter (not said by the mediator or the Alderman but strongly implied in Herald coverage), Alderman Hairston would give a recommendation to the city, but there were differences of interpretation as to what this entailed or implied. Alderman Hairston's press release is in the 3/17 Herald and this page. For Alderman Hairston's website, go www.cityofchicago.org, find City Council and scroll down by alderman's name. In June, she went in a different direction with the expanded ad hoc group.
Note: the autumn-winter 2003-4 mediation costs were equally shared by the parties, with certain costs borne by the University of Chicago. It is our understanding that in the revived costing-out process each party is paying its own engineer but the mediator and his engineer and some other costs are borne by the alderman's office. We understand the Task Force is about to undertake new fundraising, partly to lead to a maintenance conservancy that it and the Park District have jointly discussed.
Meanwhile, moves are in progress on other levels (state and federal preservation and political); Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. is one who is working for a preservation resolution, so is the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. (Read Rep. Jackson's letter to Mayor Daley. The IHPA recently reaffirmed its position that the agreement of 1994 means limestone, unless its non-feasibility can be demonstrated--the city has not yet asked such a review and sign-off.) IHPA is said - by Task Force members that met them in Springfield March 24- to have strongly reaffirmed their (IHPA's) regulatory power and insistence that steel and concrete cannot be visible except on accessibility features. (The Task Force reps. and, separately, Mr. Rossi's group) also met with our state legislators as well as IHPA.) March 24, Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois placed the Point on its 10 Most Endangered List for 2004.
How Shoreline Protection funding works: On a yearly basis, in January, the federal and local partners agree how/where they are to spend the money that year. The only requirement is that the local partners keep putting in enough money to keep up their 50 percent share. This method does make is hard to show that "federal funds" are being spent on any one locale in the project.
Also on the horizon from the Working Group is the concept of a Conservancy to keep up the Point.
Stay tuned for announcements etc. over the next few weeks, then the final reports and the city's response.
Letters expressing deeply held views in the community
By Charles and Joan Staples in the September 1, 2004 Hyde Park Herald
It is a bitter disappointment to us and thousands of concerned Hyde Parkers that all of the loving care and research skills that have been expended in making a sound case for a preservation approach to Promontory Point restoration are being totally discounted and rejected by the Park District and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authorities who are assuming an intransigent and unbending stance in their zeal to spend massive amount of our tax monies to totally demolish the beautiful, unique and historic limestone revetment and replace it with a predominantly concrete structure featuring a "compromise" limestone trim.
If we cannot achieve a preservation-oriented restoration and repair, we urge that the demolition and replacement plan be rejected outright, and the Point be left "as is" for the time being until needed remedial and protective measures take place. The lake is low. The revetment is much stronger than we believe. The shifting of rocks has produced a protective "equilibrium" of sorts. The Point is a beloved piece of rugged "seashore" for many of us. destruction of the splendid Caldwell [sic] revetment would be a crime. Repairs, which are feasible, would save much public money. The city claims to be financially strapped, but it spends freely where it wants to.
It is urgent that there be a careful investigation to reveal what the actual motivators are for the city's stubborn resistance to community efforts and desires. Could it be that the city's prescribed outcome has been predetermined long ago in form of promises made behind the scenes for lucrative contracts to politically connected demolition and concrete contractors? Maybe not, but we need to check it out.
It is also urgent that concerted moves be made with the help of the Illinois Preservation Agency and the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois for achieving official historic or architectural landmark status for the Point's extraordinary landscape architecture as designed by Alfred Caldwell in the 1930s. It is an irreplaceable treasure which must not b sacrificed. We must not allow the city's demolition plan to proceed. Therefore, we must speak out affirmatively for preservation.
Rival plan renderings side by side - northside (This excludes the May mediator's plan)
Go to the cited city and task force sites since most views are in "ART" not "jpg" and can't be downloaded in Acrobat. Several renderings of the task force plan are on view in our site at page #2 in the recent series.
Below are north end views except the last. Herald.
To additional City, Task Force views.
That immediately above shows the Compromise (city) plan at the east-middle of the south side of the Point. To this writer that this rendering of the steps show them less steep than in either the current revetment--it's a scramble to climb up or down--or either plan. The platform that starts after the fourth range of steps will be new in both plans--how much tow stone is provided (and whether is blocks or broken stone) is uncertain; the city plan only mentions a 300 foot stretch on the south side.
Peter Rossi writes (e-mail) this in favor of the city plan for the south side of the Point; [This could not be downloaded]
Southside Perspective. This artist rendering shows the Southside of the Point as rebuilt according to the Compromise Plan. The top two steps are in limestone. The bottom two steps are concrete colored and textured to simulate stone. The promenade is concrete with a textured edge. Limestone blocks cover the steel piling at the waters edge. Water access on the Southside of the Point is provided via a 300 ft long section of limestone steps into the water.
Peter Rossi writes this in favor of the city plan for the east "coffin" end of the Point (the most expensive to replace):
Preserve or Rebuild? Under the Compromise Plan, the 1000 ft "coffin" stretch at the tip of the Point would be rebuilt with a smooth promenade and two limestone/two textured concrete steps. This would make this stretch consistent with the rest of the revetment. The Point Task Force Plan (nicknamed the “Preservation Plan” by the Herald) calls for retention of this concrete structure and repairing the large cavities below the surface.
In contrast, Bruce Johnstone writes (Herald April 14, 2004):
"Artist may be skilled, but concrete is ugly." It is so lucky that the city did not build their concrete revetment at Promontory Point first. We now know first hand that the stone textured concrete steps lok nothing like the good-looking artist renderings submitted to promote the concrete construction elsewhere along the lakefront. No longer will skillfully crafted artist renderings or rhetoric promoting the merits of a concrete and steel shoreline stand up to a revealing walk along the lakefront.
Point mediator reflects on his 10 months on the job
Hyde Park Herald, February 23, 2005. By Mike Stevens
When Jamie Kalven got a call in the summer of 2003 from a friend looking for advice on the Promontory Point battle, he gave it. He said direct talks between the city and local residents would help resolved the dispute over how to restore the popular park's lakewall.
Both sides eventually agreed and Kalven was drafted, after a recommendation from the South East Chicago Commission (SECC), for the job. So in August, 2003, Kalven not only entered the fray but moved immediately to its center as the mediator of talks between community representatives and the three government agencies involved in the long-delayed project to rebuild the Point's defenses against erosion.
"They were deadlocked. It had become a he-said, she-said situation," said Bob Mason, executive director of the SECC which proposed and helped pay for mediation. "It was a move that had to be made. It kept people talking."
Talking is a strong suit for Kalven. Although he considers his works carefully he is not stingy with them. The interview for this article stretched to nearly three hours with little effort. A prepared list of questions was the final thing addressed. Kalven also regularly negotiates with large city agencies as an advocate for public housing residents.
"We presumed [the negotiations] ought to be conducted by a professional mediator," community representative Jack Spicer said. "But I don't think anybody could have done the job better." Rob Rejman, who represented the Chicago Park District at the Point talks, agreed, saying Kalven helped clarify important differences and raised the civility of the discussion. Spicer can take credit for being "the friend" whose call introduced Kalven into the Point negotiations.
When asked for three swords to describe the 10 months he spent on different Point-related projects, Kalven said "intense, complex and instructive." What began as a part time job consisting primarily of running monthly meetings blossomed into daily discussions via e-mail, fax and phone. Because it was an ad hoc process, Kalven said he found himself thinking with increasing regularity about the nuts and bolts of how to move the talks along. "It was taking over more and more of my life," Kalven said.
The Chicago Park District, the SECC and the Community Task Force for Promontory Point paid Kalven for his time. He decline to discuss the amount he received for his work but several people involved in the talks agreed that Kalven put in much more time than he billed. Despite the long hours, Kalven had difficulty keeping the public informed with regular reports on the closed-door meetings. These reports were a concession to concerns raised by community members and the Herald when it became known the meetings would be closed to the public.
Kalven remains convinced that closing the discussion remains the right decision. "The reality here is there would be no mediation process without that agreement," Kalven said. If given another chance, Kalven said he would ask for more authority over his reports, which had to be vetted by both sides before they could be released, in order to get tem out in a timely manner.
The Point negotiations broke down in January 2004 though Kalven continue to work on a final report commissioned by Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th). That report concludes that approaching the Point rehab with an eye towards preserving the existing limestone revetment is physically and financially feasible. As it stands, the city wants to demolish the existing revetment and replace it with a concrete-based structure that they say will last and can be built within the $22 million budget.
Kalven cautions that a "preservation" approach does not presuppose a particular outcome. Instead, it offers a new way for planers to approach remaining engineering, accessibility and money questions. "It isn't a magic wand but it is a rational and reasonable approach," Kalven said. "The report's still out there. I think it's possible to take action based on the conclusions of the report."
Jackson has cited Kalven's conclusions to support his push for a preservation approach at the Point. To view this report, go online to the-point.invisibleinstitute.com.
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