Olympics homepage including links to subpages and other websites. See there Gold Line and neighborhood/housing consideration.
HPKCC letter and documentation of needs to 2016. (Feb. 2007)

HPKCC and the Olympics

Prepared and presented by Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference; its Development, Parks Committees and its Transit Task Force; and its website hydepark.org

HPKCC has not taken a formal position on the Olympics, but work with those in many neighborhoods who are concerned about impacts and seek benefits. Our initial response was to seek community views-- which we found were profoundly divided. We expresed to officals that the the planning must if anything err on the side of transparency despite the competition with other cities and involve engagement beyond communication with communities. We offered a full set of topics, concerns and possible benefits and legacies to be studied or considered and consulted upon with communities re: preparations and during and after the Olympics.

We think that there has been too little thought and voice within in Hyde Park and Kenwood and overall not enough study, consideration of and communication with neighborhoods on the part of 2016, despite numerous presentations. We are unsure how much impact and benefits there will be in HPK, and are gald that some locally-based task forces have been formed and foundation/institution studies done. HPKCC's main work so far- via letters, meetings, and forums-generally in collaboration-- has been for:
1) minimum impacts and best outcomes for parks (we want restoration but have not taken a position on legacies),
2) transportation and "getting around" amelioration and benefit including "Gold Line,"
3) housing and continuance of an economically diverse and affordable neighborhood, balanced development,
4) good management with avoidance of inconveniences--before, during, and after the Olympics.
Watch for public forums.



HPKCC writes letter to Mayor, 2016, Park District February, 2006. Meets with Chicago Park District about the Olympics in August 2007-- [See the letter and document submitted.] See Report further below.


Report on early May meetings of HPKCC, Washington Park Advisory Council and WP Olympic Group. Including latest draft of WP Points and a letter of appeal from Washington Park Neighborhood Association

By Gary Ossewaarde, HPKCC Parks Chairman

Olympic update by Gary Ossewaarde, May 6, 2007

At the May 3 HPKCC board meeting it was reported that we have received no response to our questions and concerns sent to the Chicago Olympic Committee and Mayor Daley.

Next, a synopsis (as updated here) was provided on the April 18 2007 Washington Park Advisory Council (WPAC) meeting. WPAC meetings will hereafter not take up the Olympics on a regular basis—this will be handled by a separate Washington Park Olympics Committee, to meet first Saturdays at 9 am at Washington Park fieldhouse starting May 5. That committee will refine the “26 Points” of demands and questions on the Olympics and draft a Community Benefits Agreement to be submitted to the Chicago Committee.

Discussed at the April 18 WPAC meeting: Cities tend to loose money and be stuck with costs, especially policing, but this varies according to conditions. The WPAC meeting, like the HPKCC board meeting, wished to get more specifics on experience from Los Angles and Atlanta; at both meetings persons said they have contacts they can ask. It was reported that at WPAC U of C professor Alan Sanderson was cited to the effect that LA’s experience may not apply because so many countries didn’t come; Atlanta came close to even. It was said at the HPKCC meeting that London is currently in the red.

At the May 3 HPKCC board meeting, it was pointed out that the Olympic Committee runs the show and decides who pays what. Our concerns emphasize what happens after as well as during the Olympics—what negatives are left behind, whether and what benefits are secured and not pulled up or left to languish.

Noted was a Herald announcement of what it billed as a public meeting with members of the Chicago Olympic Committee for May 5 (announced at a Q and A with vice chair Valerie Jarrett April 28 at the 4th Ward meeting.) The Parks Committee was directed to meet and decide next steps after the advertised May 5 meeting has occurred.

It turned out at the May 5 meeting that when the May 5 meeting was announced as public, Washington Park Council (Cecilia Butler and board) pulled its invitation to the Chicago 2016 Committee, feeling that WPAC should have a chance to meet with them first. WPAC did not advertise this meeting. The Chicago Committee told WPAC chair Cecilia Butler in their concurrence that they will meet first with aldermen after the new City Council is sworn in May 21, then with WPAC, and then schedule a public meeting for the area around Washington Park in June or later.

At the May 5 meeting, Butler distributed a 26-point document in process of revision and consolidation, setting forth “What it will take to support this event in our park.” Some of the 20 or so people present proposed additional items, clarifications or consolidation. There seemed to be a desire to separate general community needs or concerns that should be worked on anyway and perhaps leveraged via the Olympics from items specific to the Olympics. Butler noted with appreciation HPKCC’s set of questions and concerns.

There was a sizable number who would rather oppose the Olympics period, and said they and their organizations were being squeezed out of the process and that the Washington Park residents (west of King Dr.) should have been polled. There was strong feeling that the communities need to organize now to avoid being driven out; some called for setting aside differences and working together. This is in addition to strong distrust of anything said by or worked out with the Olympic Committee or aldermen. The Washington Park Neighborhood Association passed out flyers signed by Murray Johnson calling its own meeting on the Olympics for May 19 and intent to send a delegation to the May 23 City Council meeting. (See Below.)

The new Olympic working group is looking over a Community Agreement Packet and have identified agencies and others that help communities negotiate them. Also, they want to have planning and design charette's to come up with “how you shoulds/cans” for the Olympic Committee.

Concerns brought up:
· Persons who say they work in city and other government said that all kinds of funds from social services to schools, parks and transportation are being pulled out of their bins and being diverted for the Olympics. Demand impact studies.
· Real jobs are a major concern—real training, preparing kids for apprenticeships etc. (There was much discussion of state law and other structural blockage to trades jobs and apprenticeships to persons with convictions.)
· Quality schools—there was consensus to seek “preferred funding” since the area is impacted (note that the federal government has provided such help to communities near bases for example for decades) and since the Olympics are supposed to inspire kids to aspire and excel. Tying in with Sports Association funds (grants for programs that are linked to having kids “involved with, learning about Olympics” was considered important. Pointed out was that only about 50% of kids in the neighborhoods to the west of the park graduate.
· Additional impact studies beyond “environmental”
· Improving infrastructure and access and providing some parking, although there were fears that the latter would encourage people to drive and some said the area already has fine transportation. (Note- although not specifically said here, there is widespread fear that people cannot in any fashion be moved timely to and from the huge stadium.) Temporary residential permit parking was desired. Among infrastructure stressed was lighting.
· There was strong desire to acquire buildings or funds to create “cooperative housing,” citing the buildings at 48th and Lake Park and 80th and Morgan. Housing and ability to stay in the area was considered a key in planning
· Guarantee that amenities such as streetscape will be kept up rather than ripped out like after the Democratic Convention was considered important.
· Re the residual stadium—the idea of asking for an enclosed facility for year-around use was well received. Location was not discussed; the Points say 7-Hills. Keeping its revenue in the park was considered a key need.
· Protecting the arboretum, green space, existing facilities was important.

Following are the Washington Park Council’s statement of points as of May 5 (including dropping relocation of the stadium to seven hills section south of 57th St. (too small)) after that the letter from Washington Park Neighborhood Association.

Olympics in Washington Park 2016
What will it take to support this event in our park

· Representation on the Chicago Olympic Committee [announced as granted]
· A Community Benefit Agreement
· Referendum on the ballot concerning taxes and eminent domain
· Jobs, Jobs and more Jobs
· Job training, internships and apprentice programs via City Colleges of Chicago- tuition free
· Environmental Impact Study
· Economic Development: grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, concessions, vendors, business strip development and grassroots business opportunities
· Improved infrastructure within the Park i.e., streets, an underground parking lot and a pedestrian crosswalk at 55th Street
· Improved safety in and around the Park
· Residential paring permits
· If users of the Harold Washington Common Ground i.e., ball players, soccer and cricket players, must be relocated, user fees should be deleted or reduced
· Renewal of the sewer system in the Park and surrounding Communities.
· Support cooperative housing for the residents who now live adjacent to the Park to ensure that the rental community can afford to stay in the area in the future
· Contacting the Atlanta and Los Angeles Olympic Committees to find the pros, cons and aftermath of the Olympics in their City
· Free or reduced admission tickets to the events
· Preservation of green space when at all possible
· Improvements to our educational system, geared toward the Olympics i.e., sports, entrepreneurial and the building trades
· Grants to the surrounding communities to fix-up their property
· Concession agreements for the African-American Community through [I]infinity
· Building trade contracts for the African-American Community, with an On-The-[Job]-Training Component
· Restaurant partnership with the Washburn Culinary Arts Program at South Shore Cultural Center
· Programs and projects which include the Disabled Population
· At the end of the Olympics, immediate reduction of the 80,000-seat stadium to a 5,000-seat amphitheatre in the Seven Hills area.
· Reinstating and improving all programs within the Park i.e., field house programs, baseball, little league, cricket, soccer, bridle path and a New Soft Ball Complex
· Shared control of the 5,000-seat amphitheater with all profits staying in Washington Park to support its programs.
· Retention of the Historic Landmark Status of Washington Park, an Olmsted Park.
· Inclusion of the surrounding community residents present at the historic meeting of the Washington Park Advisory Council in the Washington Park Refectory Oct. 14, 2006, representing the Washington Park, Grand Boulevard, Hyde Park and the Woodlawn Communities.


To the June 2007 HPKCC Board

Summary of HPKCC and Olympics watch, and report on June 2 2007 discussion at Washington Park with members of the Chicago 2016 Committee

Olympic process and outcome watched by HPKCC committees

As soon as the announcement was made in September 2006 to place the 80,000 stadium centerpiece of Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid in Washington Park, our Parks committee, with help from Development-Preservation and Zoning, began examining the issues and considering what would be needed to make the experience positive for our and the other impacted South Side communities should the plan go forward.
While many flatly oppose the Olympics for a variety of reasons, the Conference has not taken a global position but instead seeks a community input process and has expressed to Chicago2016 (the bid committee), Mayor Richard M. Daley, and Parks General Superintendent Timothy Mitchell, a broad range issues and matters that must be addressed—not only for a successful experience but also before we and communities can sign on with the essential “local support” that the city must show the International Olympic Committee. As President Rumsey concluded in his cover letter to the sent document of February 25, 2007, “HPKCC and the rest of Hyde Park will be in better position to show that support when these concerns are addressed.”

To date, HPKCC and Superintendent Mitchell are in process of setting up a small preliminary discussion. And members of the Olympic Committee have begun the process of small group meetings, promise public meetings, and expressed interest in discussing our document with the Conference.

One key disappointment remains public parks policy precedent: …” why the decision to site facilities in parks was not accompanied by an explanation as to why non-park vacant areas in need of development were not considered ahead of parks. This overlooked the fact that parks are already dedicated” with their own public uses, “…heavily used, close to sensitive natural areas, and already have parking, traffic, and crowd problems.” We said we are disappointed at displacement of ball teams, especially youth, and seek special accommodations.

Another disappointment was the secrecy, speed, and lack of consultation in placement of high-intensity venues in our communities. We have hopes that real and ongoing communication will happen, but our committee—similarly to other communities we have consulted—is insistent that input—strategic planning involving communities—is undertaken from early in the process and not just when plans have been solidified.

Our questions were grouped by topics and before-during-after. They include:
· Preparation impacts and long-term impacts on South Side communities and parks and whether there will be thorough impact studies including of what’s put back and how are things made better for parks, communities and people without driving current residents out or excluding them from park facilities,
· Management of the large amount of construction, and incoming crowds traffic and the needed amenities, and the reconstruction/restoration process,
· Traffic and access,
· Potential neighborhood redevelopments, and
· Impact on proximate institutions and facilities. We also raised questions about non-Washington Park Olympic venues.

Many of the improvements we raised are matters that maybe should be addressed whether Chicago gets the Olympics or not, and which others in the community are raising, along with how to publicize and enable visitors to take advantage of what Hyde Park has to offer.

Persons in other neighborhoods are also thinking along these lines. For example, Washington Park Advisory Council’s Olympic Committee is in discussion with Chicago2016 a 26 Point Plan. Besides park issues (including guaranteed restorations and improvements) these include a community benefit agreement, jobs and job training, schools upgrades and using the Olympics notoriety and funding as a start to reclaiming kids lives, economic/retail and infrastructure redevelopment, cooperative and other housing programs, help to owners to fix up property and a fund set aside for the coming tax increases, and means for participation and accommodation of neighbors and the disabled in the Olympics, and a permanent indoor track and training facility (the Armory if the amphitheater cannot so serve).

One of the first local meetings held by a large leadership contingent from the Chicago2016 Olympic Committee was co-hosted June 2 with the Washington Park Advisory Council in the park’s Refectory. About seven presented, including local resident Arnold Randall, Deputy Chief of Staff in the Mayor’s Office. The 2016 Committee has 140 members, three of whom three live near Washington Park: Cecilia Butler, Valerie Jarrett, and Shirley Newsome (Butler and Jarrett, presiding were present). Videos were shown and a new brochure introduced, “The Games and Washington Park.” Presentations and answers to complex questions showed that the Olympics committee is starting to seriously research the questions, knows it needs to hear more concerns and suggestions, and that plans are still very preliminary.

Newly-announced decisions: Eminent domain will not be used and no land outside the park needed. The stadium will take up no more than a fifth and the support services no more than another fifth of the north half of Washington Park. Resident permit parking will be used in the neighborhood during the Olympics. The stadium will be removed as promised and great care taken with the “legacy” amphitheater: No “white elephants” or damage to the vistas (although there will be a permanent reduction in or ball fields) but a multiple-use, showcase facility. There will be an area non-ticket holders can come and view the games (on large screens?) and feel the atmosphere. Construction will take two years and the Olympics will open in early July 2016. Park Superintendent Mitchell said the goal is to leverage the funding and combine it with other sources so the parks will have the changes they need.

Top criteria for the Committee are: It must work well for the athletes. The legacy has to be a real and usable one. The Games have to be successful for the neighborhoods with redevelopment spurred, and compatible with existing residents—involvement of all departments is underway to make sure all can stay and there is job creation. The youth have to be helped and inspired (starting this summer). Showcase the city. The committee realizes the importance of infrastructure particularly transit, but was vague on what might be needed, the ball being perhaps in other courts. No parking or non-transit way for visitors to get to the games will be provided.

Next step in the Olympics process is submission of the formal bid September 13.

The Washington Park Olympic Committee and subcommittees will meet monthly on first Saturdays, 9 a.m. at Washington Park field house, 5531 S. King Drive

Contact for the Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee: (312) 552-2016, FAX (312) 861-4802, info@chicago2016.org, website http://www.chicago2016.org.

Contact us at (773) 288-8343 or at hpkcc@aol.com.


Olympic Process and Outcome Questioned by HPKCC Committee, Neighborhood

From the August 2007 Conference Reporter. by Gary Ossewaarde

Upon learning with surprise in September 2006 that a 80,000-seat stadium in Washington Park is the centerpiece of Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid, the HPKCC Parks committee examined the issues and what could make the experience positive and bearable for Hyde Park and nearby South Side communities should the plan go forward.

Some organizations as well as individuals have come to flatly oppose using parks or the Olympic venues proposed—Hyde Park Historical Society the stadium, Jackson Park Advisory Council field hockey or other possible venues in its park. But Washington Park Council accepts the Games and is focusing on having the 2016 Committee, city and park district address “Points” (topics and demands) important for the park and community whether or not the Olympics come. Its Olympics subcommittee holds open sessions every first Saturday, 9 a.m. in Washington Park fieldhouse, 5531 S. King Drive.

In May, the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce heard an address in which a community-wide committee was proposed to assess and present to the city and Olympics what community needs and interests need to be addressed and promoted out of the Olympics. Many think we need better information on the experiences and solutions of other Olympic cities, especially Los Angeles, Atlanta, and London.

The Conference has not taken a global position, but on February 25, 2007 sent a letter, with a large set of questions and matters needing to be fully studied and addressed, to the Chicago Committee, Mayor Richard M. Daley, and Parks General Superintendent Timothy Mitchell. The letter expressed disappointment at not addressing why parks are taken and at lack of notice, input, and transparency.

We particularly stressed need for broad, systematic, continuing public communication and input for a good outcome and legacy and to demonstrate “local support” to the International Olympic Committee. As President Rumsey concluded, “HPKCC and the rest of Hyde Park will be in better position to show that support when these concerns are addressed.” To date, HPKCC is in process of establishing dialogue.

Rather late, the Olympic Committee and city recently began holding public meetings, the most significant to date being that convened on July 2 by the aldermen of the 4th, 5th, and 20th wards, with participation from the 3rd. Several attendees gave strong reasons against the Olympics or siting in parks; others expected mainly dangers and inconveniences. Both the Committee and the audience demonstrated awareness of the enormous range of issues to be addressed, although Committee presenters Valerie Jarrett and newly appointed Community Representative Gyata Kimmons had limited answers at this time. One outside study cited was that done by the Urban League and Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management on jobs, development, and minority and women business participation (accessed at www.thechicagourbanleague.org). The committee announced programs to engage, train and inspire schoolchildren through the Olympics and permanent Olympic training facilities and said they are committed to balanced economic development and local jobs and “legacies”. Some resident concerns included

· taking of property (This will not be done, the Committee said.)
· parking, gridlock, access of safety vehicles, and inability of current or dedicated transportation to handle the load (Cars will be discouraged; there will be resident permit parking; a fleet of buses will be rented; the state and feds will be enlisted to fix our transit and roads problems.)
· crowds and security, closures, trash and people management
· who will have use and control of a remaining amphitheater and whether it will hurt the park
· effects on the parks, including historic status, current organized users, presumption that parks are to be open space
· taxes and other pricing of residents out (The city needs to address this.)
· a deficit taxpayers may have to bear (They said they have enough money-no taxpayer impact; Public Building Commission is responsible.)
· ensuring fairness in who benefits, gets contracts etc.; balanced development
· medical center and health problem impacts (They are working on a plan with local providers.)
· need for an expanded committee or local advisory council.

The next steps in the Olympics bid process is submission of the formal bid September 13 and preliminary proposals January 14. Contact for the Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee is (312) 552-2016, FAX (312) 861-4802, info@chicago2016.org, website http://www.chicago2016.org. Community Representative is Gyata Kimmons, 312 861-4852, gkimmons@chicago2016.org.
Contact us at (773) 288-8343 or at hpkcc@aol.com.


Report on HPKCC meeting with Chicago Park District August 21, 2007

As in the December 2007 Conference Reporter: HPKCC Meets with Chicago Park District about the Olympics

As per agreement of the Parks Committee, a delegation met with the Chicago Park District Department of External Affairs August 21, 2007 to discuss Conference question and concerns about the 2016 Olympics.

Attending for the Conference were George Rumsey, president, and Gary Ossewaarde, parks chair. Attending for CPD was Janis Taylor.

Ms. Taylor was given copies of the original February 25 2007 letter with document of questions and queries sent to Mayor Daley, Chicago 2016, and Parks Superintendent and CEO Timothy Mitchell; A shortened version on park impacts; and two features from the August 2007 Conference Reporter, “Party in the Parks” and “Olympic Process and Outcome Questioned by HPKCC Committee, Neighborhood.”

George Rumsey discussed neighborhood and conference concerns about continuing lack of community conversation and involvement on developing Olympic plans, and strong fears and opposition from many in the community. He noted that opinion ranges from strong support to outright opposition as expressed in resolutions against passed by Hyde Park Historical Society and Jackson Park Advisory Council. Reasons for opposition range, he said, from very practical matters such as fire truck access to a feeling that giving Washington and Jackson parks to the Olympics violated public trust and purpose of parks and took what belongs to the citizens. Concerns cover what will happen before, during and after the Olympics. He noted that the Conference has not taken a position on having the Olympics.

Rumsey cited examples of Hyde Parkers backing up their strong opinions and said residents need to be engaged and have their concerns addressed as early as possible, whether or not details are available, if difficulties are to be avoided. The International Committee, he noted, insists on strong local support when choosing an Olympic site.

Rumsey concluded by proposing community advisory task forces.

Ms. Taylor, who during her many years at the Park District has dealt with implementing projects and proposals in parks and volunteer programs, agreed to bring our message to her superiors, to ask when local meetings will start and answers be available, and that the rule of thumb is to meet with communities to vet projects and proposals.

Respectfully, Gary M. Ossewaarde


View from the Parks: Gains, Pains and Olympic Sweat (same Reporter issue)

by Gary Ossewaarde

Our parks saw completion this year of some long-awaited projects:

Frustrations continued with a growing backlog of deferred parks maintenance and regular upkeep, staff that is not increased enough and efficiently deployed, communications/IT that hasn't caught up, and inadequate funding compounded by a high debt load. Superintendent Mitchell and staff spend much time squeezing funds from Springfield and Washington. Yes, our representatives there and in City Council have found scarce funds for projects in our parks. But one wonders how Chicago proposes to undertake an Olympics with such poor investment in parks, transit and infrastructure.

The Conference submitted to the Mayor, the Olympic Bid Committee, and the Park District a full catalogue of needs to be studied and addressed with public input, if the city is to undertake and the citizens to support an Olympics in 2016--and even if Chicago is not selected. Our delegation discussed these with Park District staff but have yet to receive a reply. And no general community meeting for Hyde Park concerns is in sight.

The 2016 Committee has held a well-attended first stage meeting with the Washington Park community, has held discussions with several stakeholder organizations and councils, and has at least four members from the mid South Side.

The Committee, accompanied by experienced Olympic planners, presented and answered questions with the Jackson Park Advisory Council (JPAC) September 10 on the the Olympic field hockey facility. Her is a brief summary, based on JPAC's newsletter.:

Presenters stressed their intent to keep impacts very temporary and very localized and to leave a lasting legacy improvement, principally two artificial surface, fully accessible soccer fields. Otherwise the park would be returned to present state and uses. They promised continuing engagement in an open, fair, collaborative process. Q & A:



HPKCC seeks Gold Line benefit partly to aid getting around for the Olympics

"Gray Line Lite" is now "Gold Line"- a proposal with growing support to greatly increase Metra Electric South Chicago service via 10 minute off peak service and acceptance of universal transit cards to increase daily service to 40,000 from 11,000. Planning agencies that have costed it out say it compares better than other steps or proposals like Pink Line. Some kind of CTA leasing may be advisable or not. Cost $160 million (vs $490 for Pink Line) for new cars, track-signal upgrade, station upgrades, new stop between 47th and 27th. Coalition for Equitable Olympics, HPKCC, SOUL are among those supporting. Officials contacted so far are working to get it- "We will get the money" for this worthy Benefit.

Withrow: it is extremely important to growing world interest and visits, doing business with the South Side including in light of Olympics and "Obama effect" that the Lakefront and its venues be seen to be on the CTA Grid and accessible thereon.

Note that Alderman Preckwinkle while endorsing the Gray (Silver) Line (below), is pushing to build trolley/ street car lines or light rail (the latter maybe not enough stops?), which have been successful in several Western cities, mainly for the north part of her ward and and down Cottage Grove- especially on east-west corridors. Her next focus is on access to the Olympic Stadium (presumably a combination of a trolleys and Green Line upgrades.) All these transit ideas would require Federal assistance.

Chicago Weekly News talks about the Gold Line, in an article on the next South Side CTA growth- including Orange Line extension, South Loop Green Line station, and Red Line extension. November 20, 2008. By Sam Feldman.

The proposed sites for the major Olympic venues in 2016 stretch along the lakefront, from Soldier Fiedl and the Olympic Village south to Jackson Park. Unfortunately, none of these spots are particularly accessible by CTA trains. Hyde Park resident James Withrow has a solution: the Gold Line. Withrow's proposal would take the South Chicago Branch of the Metra Electric line, which runs from Millennium Station downtown past the waterfront venues to 93rd Street, and turn it into a line of the CTA. In practice this would mean running trains every ten minutes and providing integrated fares, so you could transfer to or from other CTA buses and trains for only twenty-five cents. Withrow hopes the trains would be branded as CTA and appear on CTA maps, but Metra would continue to operate them through an agreement with the CTA. "It's just important for people looking at Hyde Park to realize that operationally they'll be on the El grid," he explains.

Although the name "Gold Line" is a nod to the Olympics, Withrow's idea was not originally built around the games. "I've been working on this for five or six years, or at least talking to people about it, promoting it as something we ought to do," he says. If Chicago beats out Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, and Tokyo, Withrow believes the Gold Line would be "vital" for transportation to run smoothly in 2016, but its utility will continue beyond then. "I think the best way to put it is that people see this as a good excuse to do the right thing," he says.

Recently Withrow's proposal has been adopted by Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL) and Communities for an Equitable Olympics (CEO) and endorsed by Aldermen Toni Preckwinkle (4th) and Leslie Hairston (5th) [and Sandy Jackson (7th)], as well as Hyde Park's state senator and representatives [and Sen. Durbin's office]. A few weeks ago Withrow got a favorable response from Doug Arnot at Chicago 2016, and he has high hopes that the Gold Line could be up and running as soon as two years from now. The CTA, which has not been known historically to oppose Mayor Daley, should go along with the plan, although Withrow is little less optimistic about Metra. "You always hope that they will cooperate and actually want to help out, and I look forward to the first piece of evidence that that's happening," he says diplomatically.

Withrow has looked into the potential cost of the Gold Line, and it's not clear yet where the funding would come from. "I never for a minute thought they'd be cheap, but basically the price we were quoted were something like three and a half million dollars per [rail] car," he says. "I notice that when Governor Palin sold her jet, she only got 2.1 [million] for that, so we're talking about something that's more expensive than a jet." Still, he's optimistic that the federal government wil chip in half the cost. "This is definitely the most pro-public transportation administration we've ever had," he says. And given the clean electric technology and the lasting benefits, he hopes to get funding at the state level too. "This area, especially the area south of here, it was built for streetcar trolleys, it wasn't built to accommodate a lot of cars." he points out. "If you have a transit method that people enjoy using, I would certainly hope that both Hyde Park's retail district and the retail further south of here would be helped out quite a bit by this."


HPKCC, Chamber sign on to Gray Line Letter. Hyde Park Herald, by Sam Cholke

The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (HP-K CC) voted Sept. 4 to join the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce in support of a plan to increase the frequency of South line Metra trains to 10-minute intervals and allow $0.25 transfers to CTA transit. The proposal, commonly referred to as the Gray Line, is the top priority of South Siders [Organizing for Unity and Liberation], a member organization of Coalition for an Equitable Olympics 2016, while attempting to negotiate a community benefits agreement with the city concerning Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics.

James Withrow, who brought the proposal before the conference, said no one has expressed opposition to supporting the Gray Line. "The Olympics are a great excuse to get people working together on this," Withrow said. The proposal has received initial support from Ald. Leslie Hairston's (5th) Olympic committee. Withrow said the University of Chicago and Howard Males, chair of the 53rd Street Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District advisory council, have also shown interest in the proposal.

"Other than tweaking bus lines, this seems like the most likely to succeed," said George Rumsey, president of the HP-k CC, before the conference voted to sign on to a letter of support with the Chamber. "I think it would be a major improvement."...
[Note: Withrow said the plan would involve acquiring about 24 new rail cars, a goodly expense.]

Since HPKCC's meeting with the Park District.

From the March 2008 Conference Reporter, View from the Parks by Gary Ossewaarde
On the Olympics...

The Conference has received virtually no response on requests for information on Olympic planning and impact.

In general, not much information on plans to accommodate the Olympics and provide lasting facility legacies has come forth from the Chicago 2016 Committee, and little local planning is being done. Mayor Daley did announce a program of transit and related upgrades apart from Olympic considerations and generally thought needed in any case--and requiring state and federal help. Foundations have set up some small funds to study, with communities, impacts and legacies. But most commentators (and a recent forum at the University on Displacement) point to little local positive economic or development results from recent Olympics. They also see little evidence of detailed and collaborative planning underway in Chicago, but much evidence that some parks and neighborhoods will be unduly affected and left ill-prepared for the Games and their aftermath. Top


There has been no formal communication. HPKCC has worked with those seeking community benefits or against impacts, specifically: Friends of the Parks, the Coalition for Equitable Community Development, which has worked with several groups to push, with considerable success, a "Gold Line" Metra Electric South Chicago benefit and more transportation solutions as well as relief of pressures on housing affordability. HPKCC is a founding member of CECD. CECD held a well-attended forum on Olympics and Affordable Housing. The Gold Line is also a key project of our Transit Task Force. HPKCC also looks favorably on Olympic Task Forces convened by Aldermen Hairston and Preckwinkle and has participated in other Olympic forums. We are disturbed by the expansion of venues in Washington Park.



Resolution passed by the HPKCC Board of Directors at its July 2, 2009 meeting: Proposed by the Parks Committee and adapted to resolution form per suggestions at the meeting. The heart of the language was as in that passed by the Hyde Park Historical Society.

Whereas: The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference respects the interests of the City of Chicago in its desire to host the 2016 Olympics but believes the preservation of historic Washington Park, as it was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, is of utmost importance, and

Whereas: The use of Washington Park as the site for the Olympic Stadium would pose a serious and long-term threat to the historic and ecological integrity of the park and to the continued democratic use of the park by the public,

Therefore Be It Resolved: The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference urges the City of Chicago and Chicago 2016 to respect historic Washington Park by selecting a more appropriate venue for the 2016 Olympics.