2016 homepage. Olympic initial
plans and reactions.
Washington Park homepage
Olympics 2016 and Washington Park
and presented by Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, its Parks and Development
committees, and its website hydepark.org.
For Washington Park's history
and significance, the present park, its council, programs and facilities, visit
this site's Washington Park homepage and navigate
to sub pages on special facilities there.
Maps of Washington Park. Parks home. Park Issues. DuSable Museum of African American History website. Chicago Park District website. 2016 contacts and meetings are in the Olympics homepage.
The Washington Park Council will not discuss the matter regularly: Instead it has spun off a Washington Park Area Olympics Coalition, which will meet 1st Saturdays 9 am in Washington Park Fieldhouse. Watch for updates on successes on its evolving set of points to be engaged with the Olympic committee. There is a website, to be confirmed. Other groups in Washington Park area are also involved.
The Washington Park Olympic Coalition (an off shoot of Washington Park Advisory Council) meets 1st Saturdays, 9 am in the field house, 5531 S. King Dr.
Watch for a forum by DuSable Museum, also another forum on Olympics and Washington Park to be held in Hyde Park. DuSable has been holding celebratory days and giveaways in favor of the Olympics while expressing concern for history and legacy and getting development and jobs.
Washington Park was included in a Quality of Life Plan adopted in spring 2009 by a coalition of organizations in the Washington Park neighborhood. It both sought to leverage Olympics and expressed concern about them.
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.
National Association for Olmsted Parks says Olympics need to respect gift from Olmsted.
Letter to Lori Healy of 2016 and to Hyde Park herald, as in the latter August 5, 2009.
We are writing to express our opposition to the proposed Olympic venue in Washington Park. As you may know, Washington Park is considered one of the four greatest park designs by Frederick Law Olmsted, along with Central and Prospect Parks in New york and Franklin Prk in Boston's Emerald Necklace. These parks are recognized by their expansive open meadows, massing of trees to provide shade and places for rest, multi-purpose circulation systems and accommodation for a variety of uses by a broad range of people.
Your bid to bring the world's attention the "greenest American city provides an opportunity to showcase a masterpiece of America's preeminent landscape architect and American values. An Olmsted landscape embodies the democratic, egalitarian principles upon which this country was founded. Recognizing the need for open spaces in the overcrowded cities of the mid-19th century, Olmsted created publicly accessible parks for all people, regardless of class or ethnic background, places that were the "heart and lungs" of a community where citizens could come together to celebrate their diversity. We are excited that through your mayor's leadership Olmsted's vision for healthy, vibrant cities centered on parks and green infrastructure has been sustained.
However, proposed plans to place a massive, state-of-the-art Olympic Stadium and Aquatics Center in Washington Park - a potential national Historic Landmark - now threaten threaten the park's signature public open spaces and sweeping vistas, jeopardizing its integrity, significance and public use. Plans to "tear down the stadium" following the Olympics are unrealistic. It is our understanding that the temporary stadium is to be disassembled and sold to another venue. Although the stadium is being designed for such a plan, this may very well not happen. Even if the stadium is removed, the current plan leaves the 4 foot deep depressed track (250 feet in diameter) and below grade seating, in addition to retaining the track and field facility, aquatic center and an Olympic monument. Such alterations and intrusions are incompatible with preserving the Olmsted legacy, and incompatible with democratic use of public open space. The remaining track and field takes a major public open space and restricts its use to specific activities, and a once-welcoming greensward with a very different result for the neighboring community.
Chicago's magnificent historic park system is indisputably world-class. Few - if any -cities have such an extraordinary public resource developed by the world's best park designers. We urge Chicago 2016 to recognize the significance of this historic landscape which has served Chicago's public for over 100 years. The original South Park, which encompasses Jackson and Washington Parks and the Midway Plaisance, deserves to be restored. It should be made the most impressive place possible to welcome visitors to the center of Olympic activity. We encourage you to review the Chicago Park District's South Lakefront Framework Master Plan for Washington Park and Jackson Park as a basis for how restoration could be accomplished. Indeed, a fitting legacy of the Olympics would be a system-wide restoration of Chicago's parks to meet the needs of teh next generation and provide places for both active and passive recreation. London's plan for its Olympics is an exemplary approach, taking brownfields and adding new parks in lieu of damaging historic existing park resources.
The 3,500 masterful landscape works carried out by the Olmsted firm are a national treasure of artistic and cultural importance worthy of protection and pride. The National Association of Olmsted Parks works to advance the Olmsted principles and legacy of irreplaceable parks and landscapes that revitalize communities and enrich people's lives. We would be pleased to serve in an advisory capacity as your plans unfold. The Olympics offer a unique opportunity to respect Olmsted's democratic ideals, and to celebrate and honor Chicago's great historic parks in the process.
Caroline Loughlin, M. Eliza Davidson Co-Chairs, Board of Trustees Advocacy Committee, National Association for Olmsted Parks.
Changes announced in December 2008 include: An aquatic component is added to Washington Park in conjunction with the Stadium, the smaller "warm up" pool to be a lasting legacy (Friends of the Parks opposes such permanent "legacies". There is local support, others incl. Ald. Cochrane want to look more closely and have community discussion.) Apparently, 55th Morgan would be closed during the Olympics, not routed underground. The remainder stadium was since downsized to about 2,500-3,500 seats, will not be in the Meadow or at least will be on its edge, and all remainders are in flux and negotiation with the community, continuing with a legacies meeting April 18, Saturday, 9 am in the Refectory.
The city frantically repaved roads in Washington Park but trash was removed only in the areas visible to the IOC.
WPAC/WP Olympics Coalition leader Cecilia Butler is pleased overall with the Olympics Ordinance, saying 16 of 26 points wanted for the Washington Park area have been meet.
From an AP article by Nancy Armour: Chicago 2016 organizers unveiled several venue changes Friday that they say will benefit athletes and the community, and make their bid more attractive in the highly competitive international field. In addition to moving the aquatic center and making the competition pool a temporary facility, the sailing, canoe/kayaking, track cycling and BMX cycling venues all will be moved under Chicago's retooled bid plan.
"We worked very closely with international sports federations and national governing bodies," said Doug Arnot, Chicago 2016's operations chief. "This plan is better for sport, better for the games and, perhaps most importantly, better for Chicago's youth sports legacy. This plan remains very financially responsible."The changes will add about 5 percent to the budget, which remains at $4.7 billion, Chicago 2016 chairman Patrick Ryan said. That's a bargain compared with other Summer Games; London estimates its overall costs for the 2012 Olympics will be about $16.5 billion, three times the original estimate.
A permanent pool, for example, would seat about 20,000. Many cities struggle to find a suitable use for a facility that size after the games, and wind up having to shrink it. "We decided to start the other way," Arnot said. "Start with the facility already shrunk, for the warm-up pool, and use the competition pool as the temporary (venue)." The warm-up pool, a permanent venue, will be adjacent to the competition pool and the two will be separated by a deck, much like they were in Beijing. There also will be a separate diving well and a pool for water polo. All temporary pools will be moved to other Chicago parks after the games .Temporary pools have been a success at other high-profile events, including the last two U.S. Olympic trials. Michael Phelps even set world records in the 200 and 400 individual medleys at this summer's trials in Omaha, Neb. The aquatic center site also has changed. It now will be in Washington Park, near the Olympic Stadium, instead of in Douglas Park. "This will bring Washington Park alive in the days between the opening ceremony and track," Arnot said.
Blair Kamin's take from December 13 2008 Tribune article. Note that he says federal spending in National Register properties must have public hearings.
On its face, the plan makes perfect sense. It would put the two star attractions of the Games—the swimming and diving venue and the main stadium, host to track and field events—side by side. That was the setup last summer in Beijing, where the iconic designs of the main stadium, called the "Bird's Nest," and the aquatics center, known as the "Water Cube," dazzled the world. The prospect is a festive centerpiece for the Games, perfect for blimp shots.
Yet, voices of dissent arose immediately Friday, particularly because Washington Park was designed in 1871 by the renowned American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Park advocates were not upset by the plan to place both venues in Washington Park during the Games. Rather, they expressed concern about what would happen afterward: While the competition pool would be torn down, the warm-up pool for Olympic swimmers would remain—a new building that would sit incongruously, in their view, within Olmsted's historic park. "There should only be temporary facilities placed in Washington Park," said Erma Tranter, president of Chicago advocacy group Friends of the Parks. "At the end of the Olympics, they should be removed and the park restored."
Her remarks underscore a simmering tension brought to the surface by the revamped bid: Olympic organizers are proposing that the Games leave a visible legacy, not simply to inspire the youth of Chicago, as they are fond of saying, but also to win neighborhood support and to impress the International Olympic Committee, which will decide in October whether Chicago gets the Games. But some activists prefer to keep historic park landscapes intact. To them, the serene meadows and glistening lagoons of Olmsted's naturalistic landscapes are sacred and inviolable, no different from the protected features of an officially protected, Louis Sullivan-designed building. If federal funds are used for National Register properties like Washington Park, they note, public hearings must be held beforehand.
Yet not all park activists share the preservation ethic. Kevin Ammons, a South Side resident who attends meetings of the Washington Park Advisory Council, said Friday that he welcomed the possibility of a 50-meter pool there. "The park has a lot of issues we've been trying to rectify in regard to the broken bottles, the garbage, the bathrooms that don't work," he said. "Anything that's going to be positive—if it's going to keep the park clean—they should do it."
From Kate Hawley's Dec. 17 2008 Herald article: [Friends of the Parks' John Paul] Jones said the Southeast Side badly needs the new indoor swimming facility that would be part of the Olympic legacy. but he recommended building it outside the park's boundaries, for example in the nearby Washington Park community.
Ald. Willie Cochran, (20th), whose ward overlaps with Washington Park, agreed that its current outdoor pool needs an upgrade but said the community would have to vet such a decision. He was first briefed Friday on the aquatics center's move into the park. "Those changes were driven by the International Federation of Swimming," he said. "They wanted the facilities to be closer to the tack and field events."
Passed ballot initiative in precincts ringing Washington park calls for lots for affordable housing while forum in Hyde Park looks for alleviations.
This Oct. 30 Chicago Weekly article tells what was in the referendum recently passed in several precincts, although not actual text. It also discusses the Oct. 18 forum. Gary
Chicago Weekly, October 30, 2008. By Laura Mattison, Perspectives: Restraining Zeus- How a local ballot initiative is attempting to control Mayor Daley's Olympian Actions
....One local issue concerns Chicago's prospective hosting of the 2016 Olympics. Voters in certain precincts in Wards 2, 3, 4, and 20 can encourage Mayor Daley and the Chicago 2016 Committee to use part of any potential Olympic windfall to benefit Bronzeville residents. The ballot initiative asks that at least 26% of the city's vacant lots in Bronzeville be used for affordable housing for moderate-income residents. Generally, "affordable" means residents are spending no more than 30% of their gross (before taxes) income on housing. Moderate-income residents earn between 80% and 120% of Chicago's Median Income, targeting the middle class.
The initiative is meant to partially address a major fear many residents have about the prospect of Chicago hosting the 2016 Olympics. Despite the economic and infrastructural benefits Chicago might experience, many people worry that there could be negative impacts on things like housing and transportation for moderate- and low-income residents of South Side neighborhoods. Because the Olympic Stadium would be located in Washington Park, neighborhoods like Hyde Park and Bronzeville would be especially affected by the 2016 Games. Although the proposed stadium would be a temporary fixture, even that short term structure could have a long-term impact. Groups like the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless believe that low-income and vulnerable groups may be rolled over in the Olympic fever that often takes over the chosen city.
While no one expects the degree of widespread evictions witnessed during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Chicago residents have valid fears that they may be priced out of their neighborhoods. Other cities have faced this problem of displacement as the Olympics have become a larger and larger event. In efforts to spread the benefits of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Vancouver recently approved the Olympic Legacy Affordable Housing project to create movable modular housing units. The 320 temporary housing units will form part of the Olympic Village and later be moved to other communities to become permanent affordable housing. Hyde Park's Coalition for Equitable Community Development advocates a similar measure to minimize the displacement of area residents by making a third of the Olympic Village units into affordable housing after the "two-week-party" is over.
The opportunities and risks that the Olympics may bring to Chicago were discussed by Hyde Park residents at a recent forum convened by the Coalition for Equitable Community Development at Augustana Lutheran Church. The forum took place on October 18th, and was cosponsored by several local organizations, including the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and South Siders Organized for Unity and Liberation. Residents spoke about their concerns to speakers, including the community liaison for Chicago 2016 and two aldermen. With issues ranging from parking to gentrification, area residents expressed hopes that a Chicago Olympics could improve the city, and fears that they might not benefit from those improvements.
There are always huge structural changes when a city hosts the Olympics. There may be urban revitalization, as areas of the city are completely transformed by massive public works projects. The boom in tourism and advertising infuses local businesses and large corporations with huge amounts of money. When all these changes have taken place, a city can find itself transformed. Often the biggest changes are seen in areas considered "underutilized," throwing the lives of nearby already disadvantaged people into further chaos. How can we make sure that these people are not trampled in the ensuing Olympic madness? Is a non-binding resolution to recommend some provisions for middle income housing anywhere near enough?
Cities are always changing. Whether it is "white flight" or gentrification, a new influx of immigrants or technological upheaval, American cities have witnessed waves of change that each left their mark. If Chicago receives the mixed blessing of the 2016 Olympics, no one can deny that there will be major changes, in both the economic and physical structure of the city. The government and Mayor Daley must be careful to ensure that all benefit. A large public works project like hosting the Games is no experiment in the free market. The city is responsible for the changes it enacts, and it must recognize its obligations to assist all people hurt by its Olympian efforts.
Grey City Journal 2008, from Chicago Maroon, gives its analysis in "More than a game What 2016 means for the South Side."
Skyrocketing rent. New retail options. Congestion. An 80,000-seat stadium in Washington Park. As the city awaits its Olympic verdict, a community braces for change.
"What I care about is when the mayor says it's going to cost $2 billion... There's no number under $10 billion that I would take seriously." - Allen Sanderson
Sculptor Lorado Taft may have just been making a statement on human morality when he installed the Fountain of Time statue on the west end of the Midway in 1922. But as it towers over the rest of Washington Park, the wisened concrete form points just as well to various incarnations of the changing park over the past 86 years.
The early 20th century's Washington Park, for instance, features carriage roads and grazing sheep. In the 1920s, the changing demographics of he surrounding neighborhood brought black semiprofessional baseball teams as well as frequent, racially charged brushes between youth gangs. Today the park is home to dozens of softball teams, jogging paths, and summer festivals.
But time isn't the only thing that changes the park. Depending on whom you ask, the park can seem like one of two very different places. To some, it's a beloved spot for pickup games and summer picnics. To others, its name elicits steer-clear warnings and snickering remarks about drug deals and prostitution.
Regardless lf their opinions about Washington Park, most Chicagoans would agree that the space is on the verge of its most radical transformation yet. In October 2009, the city will hear the fate of its bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. Chicago's victory would call for the construction of an 80,000-seat stadium in the heart of the 372-acre park, which would be turned into a permanent 5,000-seat venue after the games' end.
In a community where replacing a grocery store fuels months of emotional controversy, the Washington Park stadium proposal was never going to be a quiet affair. Since Chicago won the national bid in April of last year, local residents have held several meetings to discuss everything from traffic congestion to the pros and cons of artificial turf.
When the fate of Chicago's bid is certain, community discussion will probably turn to a debate on the merits of various Olympic planning details. For now though, local residents can only make educated guesses about those details. The city has released concept drawings, not blueprints, of the proposed stadium in Washington Park and the Olympic Village south of McCormick Place. The website of Chicago 2016, the corporation organizing the bid, has an FAQ section that raise more questions than it answers: for instance, "our Olympic Village will turn an underserved area into a gleaming, new mixed-use community," and "detailed plans will be available in the future." With the future still uncertain, there are few concrete details of fight for or against.
In spite of the preliminary state of Chicago's Olympic plans--at least the ones that have been made public--the Olympics have already elicited responses of enthusiasm and wariness from the community.
With President Robert Zimmer sitting on the Chicago 2016 Exploratory committee, the University has high hopes for the Olympics. Associate Vice President for communications Robert Rosenberg said the games have an obvious appeal. "The fact is the Olympics are exciting for the University, the city, and the community," Rosenberg said. "Very clearly, we would have a role to play with the stadium in Washington Park."
Though nothing has been made official, plans have been made to use Ratner Athletic Center as a warm-up facility. In June the University will host the arts Olympiad, a symposium for political and cultural leaders to discuss how to make the 2016 games both successful and characteristically "Chicago."
Like many supporters in the community, Rosenberg believes the Olympics have the potential to transform the South Side's infrastructure. "The question is: Can we do it in a planned, community-based way that. helps to transform the community in a long-lasting way?" Rosenberg said. He acknowledged that some Olympics, including Athens and Los Angeles, the last two summer games held on U.S. soil, were seen as having little long-term benefit for their communities. Chicago, he says, can do better. "I think that if this Olympics didn't have a legacy of transforming the community--transportation, education, housing, amenities--then we will have missed an opportunity," Rosenberg said.
Rosenberg looks at Barcelona's 1992 games as the model for 2016. He described how after years of oppression under Francisco Franco, the games spurred the city to make much-needed improvements like cleaning up its harbor, which until then had been a virtual cesspool. In fact, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, and architectural firm behind the Barcelona games, led the design of the master plan which won Chicago the national bid. "It's my job to be optimistic," Rosenberg admitted. At the same time, he's quite familiar with the argument that many Olympic cities, including Barcelona, lost money on the games overall.
"You could also look at it and say this was an extraordinary investment in the transformation of a great city," he said. "And transforming the South Side is a noble and worthwhile activity."
Along with congestion and security, the continued affordability of housing ranks high among community concerns about the Olympics. Rosenberg says the University has kept such concerns in mind with recent development projects such as the townhouse-style homes of Lake Park Crescent in North Kenwood and in condo developments on 63rd Street. "We've always been mindful of housing that's not only affordable for community residents, but we also have faculty who can no longer afford to lived in Hyde Park and want to have houses," Rosenberg said. "We share those concerns about members of the community being able to stay in the community in good affordable housing."
But many community members aren't so sue, especially given the University's notorious urban renewal program in the '50s and '60s. Lonnie Richardson of the affordable housing group Southsiders Together Organizing for Power feels that displacement is already alive and well in the neighborhoods surrounding Washington Park. He sees the Olympics as a threat to the already low supply of low-income housing, which he said has not been adequately addressed in his 40 years on the South Side. "They haven't solved those problems yet, and they're bringing on another campaign with the Olympics," Richardson said.
If historical trends hold, Richardson may be right to worry--especially about the housing problem. The Geneva-based human rights organization Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions estimates that two million people have been displaced by Olympic games in the last 20 years. Even in Barcelona, the availability of public housing dropped by almost 76 percent between 1986 and 1992; a report to the London General Assembly last year found that infrastructure improvements in Barcelona disproportionately benefited international residents and property investors.
According to U of C senior economics lecturer Allen Sanderson, some amount of what he calls "the bad buzzword, gentrification," is inevitable. He is certain that some current residents will be priced out of the neighborhood if Chicago wins the bid.
Although she fears Sanderson may be right, third-year and Southside Solidarity Network member Hannah Jacoby hopes the development could bring some positive changes to the community. "There are certain things like transit improvements, just very basic structural improvements to roads and facilities, that would certainly benefit everyone in the community," Jacoby said. "And the issue of the food desert on the South Side --there's the potential that Olympics would bring a proliferation of grocery stores."
But that optimism only goes so far. Jacoby estimated that property tax hikes spurred by 216 Olympics development could have an effect similar to that felt in Barcelona, affecting an area stretching from Roosevelt Road to Northern Indiana. "I think the problem is the kind of development that happens around the Olympics is a really unsustainable kind, because everyone goes crazy to build things that are going to be used for a month." she said.
Jacoby also pointed to the split in community opinion on the Olympics. Some community members, such as long-time Washington Park Advisory Council President Cecilia Butler, believe in the games' potential to positively transform the community, according to Jacoby. Those who have long hoped for the funds to build a new conservatory and improve the park's arboretum see the Olympics as a benefactor, Jacoby said. But others, like Richardson, fear they will be priced out of the neighborhood before such improvements are made. "We don't know our future, if we're going to be here--not only in the neighborhood, but in the city," Richardson said.
Weighing the external costs
Despite the controversy over the value of a Chicago Olympics within the Washington Park neighborhood, the city overall seems to favor the bid. A poll conducted by the Chicago 2016 Committee in April found that an overwhelming 84 percent of Chicagoans support the city's Olympic bid.
But the story might not be so simple. Economist that he is, Sanderson had his doubts about these figures. In a Chicago Tribune op-ed last month, Sanderson wondered what dollar amount citizens would put behind their support. "I suspect that at least 84 percent of those polled were also in favor of world peace, fewer potholes, and the Cubs winning the 2008 World Series," Sanderson wrote in the editorial. "But a more relevant way to elicit information is to face respondents with some prices or notion of the sacrifice required to achieve a stated objective."
Sanderson anticipates more than a few such sacrifices. Assuming historical trends hold, the yet-untold billions will go to an Olympics that leaves behind few real infrastructure improvements, a clutter of demolition-ready temporary venues, and a smattering of wealthy developers and construction unions.
Washington Park will likely undergo one of the most radical changes. Sanderson predicted in an interview that the park will be unusable for at least two years during the stadium's construction and partial demolition, putting a stop to the usual nonstop schedule of picnics and ballgames that usually characterizes summers in the park.
According to Richardson, however, the park is already beginning to fall out of community hands. "The Olympic committee was in the park one day," Richardson said. "Community people came to ask what they were doing. They told them to leave the park, like they didn't have the right to be in it. They said that we were trespassing--how can we trespass on our park?
Sanderson has his own doubts about the planning phase of the bid. "I don't care whether the Olympics come here or not," Sanderson said. "What I care about is when the mayor says it's going to cost $2 billion... There's no number under $10 million that I would take seriously." Sanderson's skepticism comes partly with from familiarity with what he says is the city's habit of low-balling budget estimates. Construction on the Dan Ryan Expressway ran to twice its budget; Millennium Park, three times.
On the other hand, some amount of funding will go toward "gussying up" the neighborhood, which could translate into the kind of restaurant and retail options some Hyde Park residents have long awaited. "The city will spend some money on making the place more beautiful, and building better housing, which will reduce the crime rate," Sanderson said. "We're one of those areas that will benefit--I don't think a whole lot, but a little bit."But he pointed to one major short-term cost of the Olympic stadium that could be an equal-opportunity headache: congestion. Sanderson has already planned to evade the traffic and crowds by leaving town for the three weeks during the games. "If I can sublet my apartment for $20,000, I could watch the Olympics on lTV from Tahiti," he said. "It's not that I'm opposed to the idea [of the Olympics]. But the opportunity cost of my being in Hyde Park for those three weeks has got to be something like $10,000."
Congestion and security are closely related issues with regard to the Olympics. Sanderson predicts that cars will be banned on Lake Shore Drive during the games and wonders whether car checks will be instituted if the transportation artery remains open. Richardson and Sanderson both expressed concern that the games would give everyone from local crime lords to international terrorists over six years to make their own Olympic plans. It's telling that security alone cost Athens $1.35 billion for the 2004 games, the first Olympics held after the September 11 attacks.
"The police department--they can't handle the neighborhoods now, just with the people coming in and the high rate of gangs organizing," Richardson said. "If you're talking about the Olympics, people are going to be coming in from all over the world. How are they going to deal with that? Like on the news, you've got blackouts downtown, traffic jams downtown. How are they going to deal with the traffic jams here?"
Perhaps the common basis for everyone from Rosenberg's to Sanderson's views is a lack of certainty. While examples from Olympic history lend themselves to some sound predictions, concrete facts about future plans and effects are few. Clearly, the Olympics have the potential to make momentous transformations to the South Side--for better or worse. but it seems that community residents will have to wait for more than a year for some hard data on how their lives will change.
"Three or four people have asked me independently, from outside the University, 'Is it just me, or is this Olympic committee not being very forthcoming?'" Sanderson said. "And every time I said, 'No, it's not just you.'"
Herald April 8 09: IOC visit to Hyde Park; Washington Park group split over value of benefits agreement. (They also breezed by 63rd and Stony-Cornell.)
By Kate Hawley. Washington Park has rarely looked better than it did Sunday, when the International Olympic Committee's evaluation commission stopped by on its tour of the venues proposed in Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Summer Games. At about 11 a.m., their mini-bus made its way through the park along the freshly repaved Payne Drive, stopping outside DuSable Museum of African American History, where the commission was slated to hear a presentation on Olympic plans for the area.
The King College Prep marching band greeted them with spinning flags and twirling batons. Nearby, a person in an Easter Bunny costume handed out candy, and across a field in Washington Park more than 200 volunteers ringed the site of the proposed stadium with flags from countries around the world. Even the weather cooperated. Rain earlier that morning had forced the washington Park volunteers to huddle under plastic ponchos. But a few minutes before the commission arrived, the gloomy skies let up, bathing the park in a cold, blustery sunshine.
The hoopla (the man-made part, anyway) was designed to impress the commission, in town until Tuesday. But those hoping to overhear any telling comments or first impressions were disappointed. South Side elected officials got only a quick handshake when they met with the commissioners at the DuSable Museum, 740 E. 56th Place. "It was just a brief sort of, 'Hey, how are you doing?'" said state Rep. Will Burns (D-26). "We just said hello," added Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th). State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-13) and Aldermen Pat Dowell (3rd), Willie Cochran (20th) and Leslie Hairston (5th) also greeted the commission.
Media access Sunday was limited to brief photo opportunities as the commissioners strode past on their way to closed-door meetings. Buses that carrie some 50 journalists from around the world did not follow the commission as it toured Jackson Park, slated for hockey, and Michael Reese Hospital, planned as the home of an Olympic Village to house athletes that would be converted to private housing after the games. The commission was scheduled to speak at a press conference Tuesday [and did compliment the city and plans]. The final word on whether Chicago wil win over Tokyo, Madrid adn Rio de Janeiro won't come down until October.
The commission's tour did little to highlight what South Siders think about the games. E-mails and flyers from Chicago 2016, the organization sponsoring the bid, circulated in the Hyde Park and Bronzeville communities in the days before the commission's visit, urging supporters to stand on Martin Luther King Jr. drive between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. When the media buses drove down King Drive at about 10:30 a.m., they passed just one group of roughly a dozen supporters gathered at 35th Street. Among them was longtime local activist Harold Lucas, president of the Bronzeville Visitor adn Information Center, 3501 S. K ing Drive. When the buses passed the Michael Reese Hospital site shortly after 8:30 a.m., a group of Chicago 2016 volunteers at the corner of 31st Street and M.L. King Drive waved professionally produced red-and-white signs proclaiming, "We back the bid."
However, two local groups protested on Saturday. Members of Housing Bronzeville, which seeks affordable homeownership for the neighborhood, joined protesters outside the Fairmont Hotel, where the IOC was meeting. Skyrocketing property tax bills are a major concern for the group, according to spokeswoman Valencia Hardy. And the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization rallied at Michael Reese Hospital to air their concerns about eminent domain being used against local property owners should Chicago win the bid.
Olympic benefits debatable for Wash Park group. April 8, 2009. By Kate Hawley
A week after a Chicago City Council committee approved a Memorandum of Understanding tying community benefits to the city's Olympic bid, one local gathering was deeply divided about whether to trust its promises of jobs, minority participation and affordable housing. A discussion about the memorandum drew roughly 50 people to a Saturday meeting of the Washington Park Olympic Coalition, which meets monthly at the Washington Park Field House, 5531 S. Marin Luther King Jr. Drive.
For Cecilia Butler, who heads the coalition, the memorandum represented a rare level of cooperation between community groups and city officials. "You see things you never see the city put on paper," she said. The major provisions include 30 [actually 20 that could become 30] percent affordable housing for the Olympic Village development (planned for the Michael Reese Hospital site), job creation and apprenticeship opportunities, had hiring of 10 percent women-owned contractors adn 30 percent minority-owned contractors.
The memorandum addressed 16 items on the coalition's list of 26 demands for community benefits and participation in the Olympics, Butler said. First on the list is a seat on the Chicago Olympic Committee, which she has held for about two years. She expressed confidence that the memorandum, already approved by the City Council's Committee on Finance, will be signed into law by the full council and approved by the International Olympic Committee, which has final say over whether to adopt it, according to the final clause in the document.And she placed faith in Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, saying he will abide by the memorandum. "He doesn't want his legacy to be marred by lies." "This is not a typical process," she added. "This is a competition of he world. And we happen to play a part."
Not everyone at the meeting shared her confidence. Kublai K.M. Toure, executive director of the Amer-i-can Illinois Inc., a community outreach organization, doubted that the promise of jobs would come true. "You know damn well we can't trust Daley, because he's never done anything for Black folks in this area," he said. Theodore Drew, an 86-year-old South Side resident, echoed that sentiment, shouting, "What makes us think they're going to abide by this? I don't trust 'em in hell with a match and two broken hands." The room broke into applause and laughter. Hyde Park resident Linda Wheeler wasn't convinced either. "My comment is, this community, we're being bamboozled again," she said.
Others said it was worth participating in the Olympic effort. "I'd rather get inside something to change it," said Marcus Wolfe, who runs a Chicago Olympic Youth Awareness Program through SGAU Services. "You're going to have to sit at the table, or you're going to be left with the crumbs." "We're getting crumbs anyway,"said one man. "I'd rather try to turn the table over," a woman added.
The most creative endorsement for the Olympic bid came from Raymond Guyton, who brought a neon sculpture he built of a light bulb framing the numbers "2016." A resident of Atlanta during the Olympics held there in 1996, he said Chicagoans should stake out community benefits early in the bid process. Butler agreed, saying the Black community should pay particular attention to this advice. She urged people to get involved with the bid by reaching out to the Chicago Urban League and other organizations who are stakeholders in Olympics community process. "A lot of African Americans appear to be against the Olympics. But there's a whole lot of people who are for it," she said. "The other residents of our city are making plans for 2016. If you don't, you'll be left out again."
Washington Park strategy: Olympics group may downsize after-Games plan. Tribune, April 10 2009. By David Heinzmann
Never carved in stone, the plans for a Washington Park amphitheater continue to shrink as Chicago's Olympic organizers delicately negotiate with park advocates who fear the 2016 Summer Games would damage the historic site. In a presentation on Thursday to Friends of the Parks and other community groups, Chicago 2016 officials suggested that the structure left behind after dismantling the temporary Olympic Stadium would seat as few as 2,500 to 3,500 people -- far fewer than the 7,500 permanent seats planners were talking about just weeks ago.
Bid officials acknowledge they are trying to strike a balance between respecting the traditional character of the site, which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted as an "open meadow," and the Olympic movement's vision of leaving behind facilities that offer tangible improvement to host cities after the games. The bid team, Chicago Park District and community groups will "work together on what the appropriate legacy is," Chicago 2016 spokesman Patrick Sandusky said. "We'll leave behind what's needed and appropriate."
But there is clearly still significant ground to cover before all sides agree on what "needed and appropriate" will mean. And the park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, placing some protections on its use. A major legal disagreement over the plan could endanger Chicago's bid. Disagreements over the plans for an Olympic stadium played a significant role in sinking New York's bid for the 2012 Summer Games.
Friends of the Parks maintains that the best community use for the land is open fields for baseball, softball, and cricket, low-impact facilities that they claim maintain the vision of Olmsted, the famed park and landscape designer. Chicago 2016 officials say they understand and have great respect for the Olmsted tradition. "Our goal is not to impact the meadow," said Arnold Randall, director of "Neighborhood legacy" for Chicago 2016.
Friends of the Parks President Erma Tranter was surprised Thursday when Randall used seating numbers under 3,500 in his presentation to the group. "The number keeps moving," Said Tranter, who said he's heard permanent seat numbers of between 5,000 and 15,000 recently. Nonetheless, Friends of the Park is in favor of bringing the Olympics to Chicago, Tranter said. "I'm very hopeful" the two sides can work out satisfactory compromises."
While the forum addressed several topics Thursday, including concerns about events displacing boaters and perceived threats to a North Side bird sanctuary, Tranter said perhaps the most pressing concern is over what all these facilities left behind will cost to maintain. tranter said she fears the Park District wil be saddled with facilities, such as the 'aquatics Center in Washington Park, a multi-use building in Douglas Park and other venues, that it can't afford to operate. "They've been cutting programs in the parks for four y ears" because of funding shortfalls, she said.
Randall promised that, in addition to the facilities, the Olympic Games would leave behind operating money from revenue generated by the Games. But although there are ideas on the table for how to achieve that funding, there are no specific plans in place yet.
Legacy, impact meetings for Washington Park launched by 2016 in April 2009. To 3rd mtg.
Hyde Park Herald, April 22, 2009. By Kate Hawley
A citywide series of public meetings about the long-term impact of the Olympics on local communities kicked off Saturday in Washington Park, where an aquatics center and an 80,000-seat stadium for track and field events would be built if Chicago wins the Olympic bid.
"We're engaging the community in a very significant way about what gets left after the games," said Arnold Randall, director of neighborhood legacies for Chicago 2016, the private nonprofit that is partnering with the city on the Olympic bid. Randall, a former commissioner of the city's Department of Planning and development, was named to the post in February, in the wake of criticism that the Olympic plans lacked transparency and community input.
Critics were among the crowd of about 150 that came to the Washington Park Refectory, 5531 S. [Russell] Drive, to see Randall's presentation Saturday. "I'm just concerned and interested if there's a study about the amount of energy and resources that will be wasted in this colossal plan,"* said Jonathan Fine, president of Preservation Chicago. "We have a team that's just looking at environmental impact," Randall said. Others in the crowd were worried that the historic landscape design by Frederick Law Olmsted would be irreparably damaged by the Olympic activity, and that parking and congestion would prove a massive inconvenience for local residents.
[*This writer, GO, felt the tone was more a question of what was going to be done to minimize waste especially from new construction. Randall's answer that much would be temporary was kind of a deflection, but he also indicated careful study for best ways to be green is underway.]
Randall sought to reassure them on both fronts. The next meeting, to be held in May, will be focused on the park's historic design, he said. And he promised that Chicago 2016 has worked out a detailed traffic and parking plan that wil not allow visitors to Olympic events to drive or park near Washington Park or in the ring of surrounding communities.
Randall also pledged that 55th Street, which currently bisects the park, would not be closed off permanently, as some maps in the Olympic bid appear to suggest. However, access would be limited during the games.
His presentation gave a rough construction timeline. Groundbreaking for the stadium, a partly collapsible structure, would take place in late 2013 or early 2014, he said. Demolition of the temporary part of the stadium would take place at the end of 2016. "It would be back to regular park use by the next summer," he said.
Left behind would be a permanent amphitheater -- which 2016 officials have said would be suitable for concerts or sports events. The size of the facility hasn't yet been determined. According to a Chicago Tribune report, Randall said in a meeting with the advocacy organization Friends of he Parks earlier this month that it could be as few as 2,5600 to 3,500, though higher numbers have also been cited.
Construction on the aquatics center, to include four pools, would begin in late 2014 or early 2015, Randall said. Much of the structure would be temporary, although city and Chicago 2016 officials are considering leaving one pool as a permanent part of the park. That raises questions about what would happen to the existing swimming located in Dyett High School, 555 E. 51st st., at the park's northern edge. "That's part of the larger discussion as to, does [the new] pool replace the Dyett pool?" Randall said.
He also pointed out that m any questions about Olympic issues relating to the Olympics, such as jobs, affordable housing and contracting and procurement, have been hammered out in a Memorandum of Understanding that has passed a City Council committee. Critics such as the activist group No Games Chicago have pointed out that the International Olympic Committee, or IPC, which will make its final decision on the bid in October, has veto power over the document. Ald. Preckwinkle (4th), who attended Saturday's meeting along with state Rep. Ken Dunkin (D-5) and aldermen Willie Cochran (20th) and Pat Dowell (3rd), has argued that the IOC is unlikely to abrogate an agreement signed by Chicago 2016, its local affiliate.
With many detail about the Olympic plans still up in the air, Randall said there is still plenty of time for the local community to have a say in how Washington Park will be affected. Breakout sessions following his talk split the audience into groups that answered questions about park usage and Olympic planning.
When the groups gave their reports, some common themes emerged: people loved their park's activities and festivals and hoped the amphitheater would not block the open views across the park's meadow. The rundown Chicago Park District maintenance sheds behind [south of] the [south-expanded] DuSable Museum of African American History should be removed, and the park should be left with better lighting and maintenance. "A few of us would like to see Dyett High School just gone," said Hyde Park resident March Schlessinger.
"I want to make [the park] a destination place for people coming from downtown," said Bronzeville resident Jim Buckner during one of the small-group discussions. "I want to be so good that downtown imitates us."
This reporter (GO) did not stay for the charette, but the process will continue, possibly 3rd Sat. in May.
Highlights of the introductory presentation by Arnold Randall of 2016 and Gia Biaggi of the Park District included that the stadium work will start late 2013 and the Aquatic Center late 2014. Athlete and staff entries will be from the east side, public from the west-northwest. Randall acknowledged that major transportation investment that will last will be needed, as is a real step up of the outreach and programs for children and youth (World Sport Chicago)--there have to be benefits for the kids now about age 11. He discussed the topics of the 5 communities subcommittees, but this reporter thought topics needing to be addressed for successful Olympics and legacy were left out, at least from the titles. Our diversity was touted but our being highly segregated by race and income was not. he did encourage thinking as broadly and quickly as possible on jobs and participation. He discussed briefly the Neighborhoods Fund for much more than the legacies, started by the Mac Arthur Foundation and Chicago Community Trust. 2016 is very concerned about public safety, growth of park programs, health of the park and circulation before, during, and after the Olympics. The 1999 Framework Plan will be up on the (Park District or 2016?) website next week.
Questions: Consideration of how to make demolition and construction as green and easy on environment, energy and resources as possible. They say they are, including with temporary and non-foundational construction, and will step up environmental impact study. Someone from the Olmsted wanted as bond or guarantee on park restoration (no bond but recognized cannot destroy one legacy for another). Concerns were expressed about long range skills and viability for those who get jobs or business from the Olympics and about increased taxes and other long-range effects. Need to work long-range on school upgrade was noted. Questions were asked about parking (just permit for residents), traffic, traffic flow and isolation, and shut own of 55th during games (said to be only during). Fear of eminent domain was expressed- (Arnold said it will not be used). Michael Reese-- there will be a hearing and planning process will be held. Note, the sale of Michael Reese occurs at the end of June. How affordability will apply in the Washington Park neighborhood and what will happen to the empty, city-owned lots was asked. There were questions about treatment and long-term future of the park. Randall insisted the legacies and framework are flexible at this point and needs community input. Under consideration now is refurbishing the Armory as a park and community center, what to do with the shops, Dyett school (including whether its pool will remain), Bynum Island and more.
A second meeting was held at which votes were registered on more specific choices, but many indicated they were not pleased with any proposals that involved substantial disruption or changes to Washington Park. Not more meetings are planned, at least until after the bid is won and serious planning starts.
Wash. Park armory could become sports facility- May 2009 meeting
Herald, May 20, 2009. By Kate Hawley.
Talks are in progress to turn the Illinois National guard armory in Washington Park into a youth athletics facility after the 2016 Summer Olympics, according to Arnold Randall, director of neighborhood legacy for Chicago 2016, the nonprofit sponsoring the bid. "We are in discussions with the state of Illinois about the [Chicago Park District coming into ownership of the armory after the games," Randall said Saturday at a meeting in the Washington park Refectory, 5531 [S. Russell] Drive.
"The talks are "in very early stages and in very general terms," said Lt. Col. Randy Scott, director of facilities and engineering for the Illinois Department of Military Affairs. "There's been nothing agreed to at this point." If the armory were to be moved out of teh ark, it would need to be replaced "within the city of Chicago area," he said.
A Park District spokeswoman confirmed that the agency has been in discussion with Chicago 2016 about acquiring the armory. "It would be wonderful for us," said Jessica Faulkner. "We already have the Broadway Armory on the North Side, and it would give us [another] very large sports facility." Randall agreed that Washington Park's Gen. Richard L. Jones Armory would be well suited for indoor track and field, and other sports. Chicago's Olympic bid calls only for using the armory as a staging area during the games.
...Chicago 2016 has begun soliciting community input about what should be left behind in parks affected by Olympic venues. The meeting Saturday was the second such discussion to take place in Washington Park, where an 80,000-seat track-and-field stadium and aquatics facilities would be built. Randall told the crowd of 50 of about 50 that the stadium would be dismantled, leaving behind a 2,500- to 3,500-seat amphitheater. Its location within the park has still to be determined. One of the Olympic pools would replace the existing pool at dyett High School, located in the north end of the park at 555 E. 51st St., he said.
Other legacy improvements under consideration by Chicago 2016 include upgrading the refectory building and making it easier to cross 55th street, which bisects the park, Randall said. Sinking the roadway below grade would accomplish that goal, but he called it "a very expensive proposition." And Park District utility sheds located along Cottage Grove Avenue between 57th and 59th streets could be repurpose for public use, perhaps as horse stables, he said.
The effect of the Olympics on the park has been of particular interest to parks and preservation advocates, who have expressed concern that the historic landscape designed by Frederick Law Olmsted would be irreparably harmed. At the meeting, Victoria Post Ranney, a former Hyde Park resident and author of the 1972 book "Olmsted in Chicago," gave a presentation on the history of Washington Park. "Having the Olympics here makes sense with Olmsted's vision," she said. Julia Bachrach, the Park District historian, ran through many historic uses of the park -- from horseback riding to ice cream making to boating.
After breakout sessions, the meeting's attendees gave their input on the Olympic legacy for the park. Their wide-ranging suggestions included making sure money is set aside for ongoing stewardship of the facilities left over after the games, expanding youth activities, adding arts programming and improving Dyett High School or moving it out of the park altogether. Rudy Nimocks, the former University of Chicago police chief who was recently named director of community partnerships, suggested reinstating the Chicago Park District Police.
Randall said Chicago 2016 wil incorporate these ideas into a series of recommendations to be presented at a third community meeting, to be held at a time still to be determined. He stressed that the presentation will include "only concepts," not concrete plans. Top
In June and July 2009, Hyde Park Historical Society and Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference formed a joint subgroup to look at Washington Park vis a vis the Olympics. The committee proposed substantially the same language, which was subsequently adopted by each board.
The HPKCC Parks Committee met with HPHS counterparts and proposed the following, adopted by the HPK Parks Committee, then proposed, adapted and passed as a resolution at the HPKCC July 2 Board meeting:
Whereas: 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: Hyde Park-Kenwood Community urges the City of Chicago and Chicago 2016 to respect historic Washington Park by selecting a more appropriate venue for the 2016 Olympics.
3rd charette meeting breakout critiques five legacy aspects of Olympics July 18, 2009
(This section is under construction.)
Breakout groups (8 or so tables) were asked to look at maps and schematics and comment on five topics: Aquatics, Remaining stadium; Other facilities: Open spaces, and Access and parking. Some of the tables recommending siting Olympics not in this park, others strongly welcomed. Moderator Arnold Randall noted that among recent tweaking was to keep all the seating in the stadium on the east side, with modest rise to dampen noise and provide view across the action part and track onto the meadow. There is definite intent to restore the Refectory and make it more an active center, and to improve other facilities--definitely including the L station. Tables were asked to look at various ideas for a memorial to the Olympics themselves. Randall reminded that the bid has not yet been won and planning commences thereafter. People said we have to move ahead with park improvement and upgrade and taking other changes into account regardless of getting Olympics. Also stressed was need to have a legally binding benefits agrement (Arnold insisted it is). Some talked about more distant issues such as the Gropus building at Michael Reese.
Here are observations of the various table.
#1. Aquatics. Because of problems with shared facilities plus demand, the current pool and rec. center should remain and be turned over to the school. The Olympic facility that is to remain would be located a bit to the south and should be either made year-round or given a bubble. The existing and new pools need guaranteed and permanent adequate funding.
Stadium. Present site and form destroy five ball fields that are never returned and also destroy too many open site lines-- violating the Olmsted design. Various moves, lowering, or complete removal and placement of the legacy facilities in the Armory and or another part of the park (or even outside) were recommended. Any legacy facility should be as small as possible.
Other facilities. Use the Armory as a regional athletic, recreational and cultural (and more, community?) center. Full and adequate funding is necessary. Dome the remaining pool if not year-round and dome the other pool by the fieldhouse. Bring all facilities up to standard, restore or improve. The memorial could be at and including the Armory.
Open spaces must be retained or restored and their care fully and permanently funded. Restore the ball fields. Support the lagoons, arboretum and other natural areas, keep all in accord with the template. Replace all trees and plants removed or that die. Minimize all environmental impacts.
Access. Parking is a vexing problem, especially for festivals et al-- could need an underground facility. Provide permanent improvements to Green Line and its station. Keep the sense of winding roads and enjoyment of riding through the park. Avoid sinking the road in order to provide needed safe crossing points.
#2. This table opposed placement in WPK and called fro restoration of the original vision, improving 55th St. if the environmental impacts are not negative. They did say that if... then keep also the current pool and fund both, Make sure the stadium is not a monster and usable year round, closer to Cottage Grove but with noise abatement. The restored Refectory should be a focus in the park and beehive of activity-- production and other companies could be housed there. The historic integrity and funded upkeep of the meadow, lagoons, etc. are critical. Ways are needed to take control of the park in the sense of uses, activities, trash...
#3. This table strongly supports the Olympics and also keeping and supporting Dyett School and its pool. A traffic management and access plan including for surrounding residents is essential from start of construction to after the games. Stickers were suggested. Disabled accessibility and improvements for biking and walking are essential. Full participation in the Census was pointed out as essential to planning. Construction: attention to staging, parking, traffic blockage, safety, health hazards, and security are essential, keeping kids in mind. Places must be provided for any recreation and parking displaced. People need to know how this will affect their lives. At this point a person interjected the importance of sound and quality construction including for roofs. For memorial, the table suggested a vertical lift.
#4. Emphasis should be placed on lasting utility of all existing and new facilities (which may well be needed, especially fitness uses). Stadium seating is good to have just on the east side as proposed. The memorial should be at 55th and King where it will have a visible and historic profile. Aquatics- has to be fully accessible and the old pool kept, improved, funded. New uses for the Armory. Upgrade and improve with flexible spaces fields, tennis, basketball. Pedestrian access across 55th is important but overpasses create problems--use some kind of compromise over or under with the road flexed. Fund improvements for the whole park.
$5. Stadium location is bad for the ball fields and needs to go somewhere else, but indoor for full-year use. The park should be fully maintained in accord with its international status and character. What's done and left should be eyed for impacts on keeping an affordable neighborhood. More upgrades are needed for the fieldhouse, especially air conditioning and green-sustainability (model). Construction mitigation is important. A tunnel should be considered for 55th. The Benefits Agreement must be enforced.
#6. Like the proposed aquatics center. The plan for dismantling pools and stadium have to be careful and the architecture good. The stadium is in a bad spot--the track etc. should be in the Armory. But something for concerts, fests, events could be south of 55th/Seven Hills. The memorial could be either near Cottage or King and be Olympic themed. Pathway lighting should be provided. The park needs to be green. The bridle path should be restored and continue through the Midway. There needs to be a community transportation plan including Green Line into the park.
Views and approaches from the start
Washington Park, on the other hand, does not need redevelopment. Building the stadium in Washington Park would deprive the community of well-used baseball, soccer and cricket fields for years during construction and demolition, and permanently if a 10,000-person sunken bowl remains at this location after the games. Washington Park's listing on the National Register of Historic Places cannot survive this Olympic plan. Because of its landmark status, federal dollars could not be used to build a temporary stadium at this park site. We need a better plan and better venues. Erma Tranter, Friends of the Parks
I think it would be good. We need something down here. We don't have anything. Lee Hogan to Tribune. People need to get back to work. People who oppose this aren't concerned about jobs. Jeffery Sims Washington Parkers.
If they build a stadium, there's a good chance the city will curtain access to the park. That would be too bad, because it's a wonderful neighborhood park right now. Barbara Box. I'm not so sure it's a good fit. The park has lots of activity as it is. Who is going to police all the noise?" Dorothy Preshon. Both Hyde Parkers.
They're not going to let us stay here. Robin Hall, Washington Park business woman. It may result in jobs at concession stands, abut I don't know that it's going to do anything for the people in the community. It seems like Chicago is becoming a place for middle-class and upper-class people. Shawn Keez, Washington Park.
Where would those activities go for the two years and what room will there be for them afterwards? Toni Preckwinkle, 4th Ward Alderman, who supports the proposal. The Park will not be shut down. I t would be in use during construction. Mayor Richard M. Daley.
Although initially surprised by the Sept. 2006 announcement (just a week after WPAdvisoryCouncil president Cecilia Butler was awarded the Burnham honor by the Park District), she did not oppose but separated out a new committee to hold regular separate meetings from WPAC. This Washington Park Olympic Committee (now Coalition) set a regular open meeting date, 1st Saturdays, 9 am, field house, which continue. The initial approach was to 1 avoid outright opposition. [Some opposed this from the start and splintered off, sought support in other community organizations; still others wanted to endorse and cooperate fully, seeking only more communication/interaction and guarantee of minimized adverse impacts in park and community and guarantee of benefits and legacies.] 2 seek to move the stadium south of 55th with permanent sports and cultural facility (moving proved impractical due to space and perhaps other reasons).
3 prepare and negotiate for "26 Points" of benefits and mitigations ("What it will take to get this community to support the Olympics"). This group did gain some semi-closed and public meetings with 2016. It is unclear whether this group was a major force behind getting the housing matter on the ballot and whether the coalition has gained concessions-- it has gained some general park improvements such as the new playground.
People wonder: What would be the impact on the ball fields - in the historic Great Meadow, named after former Mayor Harold Washington (Harold Washington Common Ground) and dedicated to unity of the peoples of Chicago working together, Jones Armory, DuSable Museum and Dyett School, let alone U of C and Provident Hospitals? (U of C sports facilities are also to be involved.) See below for other concerns.
Our local elected officials and the Washington Park council had less than a day's notice for this bolt out-of-the-blue--and they had to react at a mayoral love fest sign-on rollout announcement. We still do not know how this decision was made and by whom. Alderman Preckwinkle's statements have indicated mixed feelings, as is indeed true of most people in the neighborhoods surrounding the park. Several have noted that lack of communication and inability to answer questions killed the world fair proposal in the 1980s.
The storm of controversy was instant and continued. Opposition appears to have grown in following weeks. Meanwhile, the likelihood of Chicago getting the nod grew as San Francisco and others dropped out and the remaining competing cities would leave Asia or Europe with back to back Olympics, which the Olympics likes to avoid. Some of the pieces below say that there are other, better Chicago sites in need of development sparked by the Olympics: USX, the south end Port, vacant land were public housing stood, and Roosevelt Road at the River.
By January 31 2007, after details and revisions were issued, according to the Herald, Despite a few displeased opinions, Washington Park Advisory Council President Cecilia Butler [was and] is pleased with the changes. Butler said that the advisory [council], which have composed 28 points to be recognized by the Chicago Bid Committee, wants Washington Park to host the Games. "Washington Park has a good location,"Butler said. "We are 20 minutes from the rest of the Olympic venues."
[Revised plans [the Herald article continued] include[d] the reduction of the temporary amphitheater to 85,000 seats, and would leave behind 5,000 seats instead of 10,000, preserving green space. "The idea of the arenas being reduced to 5,000 seats is far more manageable," Butler said.
Changes to the proposal come after having talks with the Chicago Park District, Friends of the Park, and Washington Park and Jackson Park advisory councils [sic!], Chicago Bid Committee officials said. It was determined that Jackson Park would be a better place to host the field hockey Games because of the soccer field. "Our goal is to not just use the park, but over the long term this will revitalize and leave the park much better than when we went into it," said Patrick Sandusky. "We thought about what would be the best long term solution for the community." ]
HPKCC's committees sent their own letter if concerns and questions to the Mayor and Committee. Other organizations and councils have done so also ( see various below.) Here is a report on the February actions of Washington Park council for the March 2 Maroon:
Washington Park Advisory Council (WPAC) President Cecilia Butler said locals will support the Olympics if the city considers their needs. Last Saturday, after two town meetings devoted to delineating locals' needs, WPAC drew up a 29-point list of conditions the city must meet to gain Washington Park residents' support. Requirements include control parking demand, protect parks, and safeguard the homes of tenants who fear displacement.
See more details below in update. Basically, there would be a 95,000 seat stadium (now 80,000)--with a 10,000/now 5,000? seat arena remaining after for public gatherings, performance, and sports events such as track (which could be in conjunction with to-be-enhanced U of C sports facilities, during and after the olympics; new permanent hockey fields, use of Jones Armory, and new pedestrian juncture between the two halves of the park by tunneling part of Morgan Drive (55th).
Note that there are sure to be controversies about parts of the Olympic plan for other areas, including the 5 or 6 non-permanent, non-enclosed pools at UIC and lakefront facilities. It it a costly long shot- in the foot, or a shot in the arm? Already some say the stadium should be at USX or along the Ryan in the cleared Robert Taylor Homes and spare the parks.
At a town hall meeting Sept. 23, 2006, State Rep. Barbara Currie expressed many of the reservations Hyde Parkers and especially Friends of the Parks have on this issue. The park's Aldermen, and at least some residents to the west hungry for development and jobs or even some excitement in the area welcome the proposal. And it will bring the desired bandshell/performance (with track) facility- after a wait of 10 years, and many want a better way to bridge the east-west main drag. There really does seem to be a distinction between the views of Hyde Parkers and people living west of the park- reopening a very old wound (although the participants have changed over the years, this park is a still in some ways a boundary, even a battlefield)--Whose-park-is-this? (Those to the north haven't been heard yet, at least in the media.)
Yet there are many in Hyde Park (besides the two aldermen and the University) who are strongly for this or see many pros and cons, and some in Washington Park who oppose or are skeptical. Public officials, except the state legislators, are strongly in favor. Some residents, such as at a recent League of Women Voters meeting, suggested walking and measuring the template to see what would be impacted.
Campus papers set forth most of the case for the Olympics in Washington and others parks (besides free land instead of bulldozing communities) while also pointing out opposition:
Chicago Maroon commentary of September 29 2006 presents much of the case for the proposal. Going for gold: Olympics in Chicago
By Samuel Rosenberg
As Chicago moves forward with its bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, it is continuing to do something that is typical of our city: dream big. Despite initial popular plans to concentrate the Olympic events along the lakefront, near the McCormick Place Conference Center and Soldier Field, the layout has now been amended to place the main Olympic Stadium in our back yard, Washington Park. Located on the western border of campus, th is 350-acre park would be an excellent home for the Olympic Stadium. The building of a Olympic stadium in Washington Park will be extremely beneficial to the general bid, the neighborhood, and the city as a whole. Just as the 1893 World's Fair brought development and grandeur to Jackson Park and the Midway, an Olympic Stadium will do the same for the expanse to the west, Washington Park.
This dramatic shift will greatly benefit the bid as a whole, improving the City's general chances of winning the games. As opposed to offering highly condensed facilities along the lakefront, the City can now showcase its diverse neighborhoods in addition to maintaining a significant amount of continuity. Lakefront venues such as Soldier Field and McCormick Place will still allow for made-for-TV shots of the shore and skyline, while preventing an overly crowded lakefront.
The neighborhood would also greatly benefit from the construction. The firm that is organizing this bid is none other than Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, the same organization that is working on the Freedom Tower at New York's Ground Zero and that brought Chicago the Sears and Trump towers. Furthermore, the private partnership that has already come together to promote this project is one of tremendous merit. The collection of Chicago executives that is leading this bid does have the financial backing to follow through on its guarantee that tax dollars will not be wasted on the project, no matter how high the cost of this venture becomes. Not only can these names talk the talk, but they can surely walk the walk.
Those who are criticizing the plan, such as Aldermen and Mayoral candidates, are looking at this as an attempt for Mayor Daley to appeal to South Side voters. But that is beside the point, given the logistical benefits behind this move. While a large stadium along the lakefront could only have been serviced by Lake Shore Drive, the facility in Washington Park would be easily connected to both Lake Shore Drive (via the Midway) and the newly improved Dan Ryan. Additionally, it is clear hat funds would go to improve the dilapidated Green Line, which runs within three blocks of the park on both the south and west sides. Improved public transportation routes and a more sensible location are just the beginning of the benefits behind a relocation of the facility.
For years, Washington Park has served as an insurmountable hurdle for prosperity, with stable Hyde Park on one end and an impoverished neighborhood on the other. Any individual who has taken the #55 bus within the past 20 years can easily notice the difference. Despite its illustrious history as a Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux-designed park, it is currently a shadow of its former glory. No sensible individual would venture into the park after dark, and most have no reason to enter it during the day. Although the complete plan has not been released, there is no doubt that a construction project of this magnitude would not only create hundreds of thousands of jobs, but bring increased business investment to the neighborhood. The 95,000-seat stadium would be partially taken down to provide a 10,000 seat venue for after the games. Furthermore, our University would benefit via an expansion of the Ratner Center to include Olympic locker rooms.
Although Chicago still needs to beat out Los Angeles and San Francisco to win the American competition, the international decision will also be tight with cities such as Madrid and Rio de Janeiro already entering the competition. With the final decision being made in 2009, there is no doubt that this is going to be a long, drawn out process, but if we do win the honor to host the games, then truly, not only will the City of Chicago benefit, but so will the Washington Park community, and the needy South Side.
Maroon, October 17, by Hassan S. Ali
After city efforts to secure the bid the host the 2016 Olympic Games reached new height last week, local South Side residents and community activists filled the Washington Park Field House Saturday morning to discuss the impact of pending Olympic plans on their neighborhoods.
Cecilia Butler, in her 16th year as president of the Washington Park Advisory Council, made the morning's agenda clear from the beginning. "Today is not a meeting of why we don't want" the Olympics, Butler said to the roughly 50 people in attendance. "Otherwise, we will be here for days," she said, reminding the audience to consider "what it would take for you to support the Olympics."
The community meeting stemmed from the Chicago Olympic Committee's decision last last month to make Washington Park the prospective site of a 95,000-seat Olympic stadium, pending Chicago's selection 2009 as host city.
The decision, which Butler said was a surprise to her and other community leaders, has propelled the 380-acre historical park to the center of a debate among area residents, many of whom fear the plans will run them out of neighborhoods they have lived in for decades. "As a child, I went to day camp here," Butler said, adding that suggestions made to the advisory board at the meeting would be directly delivered to the mayor's office and superintendent of parks. "The power of your advisory council depends on what work you want to put in it," she said.
Before opening the floor to the audience, Butler said she has supported the city's plan to convert the Olympic stadium to a permanent 10,000 -seat amphitheater after the Games. She said the city has seriously considered the advisory council's request to build the stadium in the Seven Hills are on the southeast portion of the park, rather than the common grounds, which have been home to community sporting activities for over half a century. Butler said the Chicago Olympic Committee and City Hall have been cooperative and open to discussion with community leaders.
"I've seen it [the park] go from nothing to something," said Barbara Prude, who lives at East 60th Street and South Eberhart Avenues. A supporter of the Washington Park Olympic plans, Prude suggested urging the city to focus on potential parking shortages, tax increases, street lighting, and jobs for local residents.
Butler said the advisory council has suggested that the city convert the area behind the DuSable Museum into an underground parking lot, similar to Grant Park and Millennium Park downtown, to address the parking situation.
Local resident Kamilah Jarvis said one of her biggest concerns was the neighborhood's poor driving conditions. She also called for improved street lighting around the park, the need for hotels, and more grocery stores. "The streets have to be paved and drivable, not a roller coaster ride," she said to a round of applause from the audience.
Linda Austin, president of the Harris Park Advisory Council, echoed Jarvis's sentiments, supporting a Washington Park-housed Olympics. "We need improvement here," Austin told the advisory board.
Samantha Robinson of South Chicago said the city should connect with advisory councils in Atlanta, host of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, and "learn from them. I know that there are no cookie-cutter solutions to this," Robinson said.
The city moved another step forward Thursday in bolstering its candidacy, becoming the first of the three competing U.S. cities--along with San Francisco and Los Angeles--to unveil its official Olympic logo. Dubbed "the beacon" by its designers, the logo features an Olympic flame and silhouette of the Sears Tower-dominated skyline, along with a green and blue color scheme that represents the city's waterfront and parks.
Saturday's meeting fell on the same weekend as Mayor Richard M. Daley's European tour of Athens, the 2004 Olympic host, and London, host of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, in an effort to compare notes with the successfully selected cities.
The meeting soon deviated from its intended purpose, and an agenda intended to garner support for a local Olympics was opposed by some community members.
"There are more pressing needs for our community than an Olympic stadium," said Hal Easton of Woodlawn, adding that he feared gentrification would evict him and fellow residents from their homes.
The atmosphere turned more heated with a brief appearance by Bill "Dock" Walls, a candidate for Chicago's February 2006 mayoral election. An aide under the late former Mayor Harold Washington, Walls insisted that his appearance was not political. "Yes, we want the 2016 Olympics...but I have a commitment to Washington Park," Walls said. "It's important that we're having these discussions now and not waiting until they're breaking ground."
Walls spoke emphatically in front of the group, but incited emotional responses from audience members when he referred to developing the Washington Park community regardless of Chicago's securing the Olympic bid. Walls said that local colleges such as Malcolm X College are in need of athletic facilities and that he would support building a stadium in Washington Park even if Chicago loses the bid. The mayoral candidate added that new and sophisticated athletic facilities would encourage low-achieving students to strive toward higher education at colleges serviced by the new stadium. "We have companies that we as a community can go after," walls said. He also referred to U.S. Cellular's sponsorship to the Chicago White Sox stadium and corporate sponsorship of the renovated Soldier Field. About 10 people stormed out of the room in response to Wall's statements.
"We need to unite as one and concentrate on what's going on in our community ...before the Olympics come," said Murray Johnson, president of the Washington Park Neighborhood Association.
Several audience members continued their criticisms of the city's proposed plans to build in Washington Park, taking argument along racial lines. "This is [happening] because we are the least resistant," said local resident Theodore Drew, referring to the area's predominantly black population. "Take it to Grant Park, take it to Lincoln Park," Drew said about the proposed Olympic stadium.
Some members of the audience complained about the influence of the University of Chicago. One emotional argument called for the Olympic Committee to build the stadium on the track behind Ratner Athletic Center.
WPC continued to refine and group its points for research and for discussion with Olympic and other officials (some impacts, some what is desired or needed out of the Olympics or in spite of it) and to organize several topic and action subcommittees. And leader Cecilia Butler was placed on the Bid Committee. Experts as well as community residents are engaged in this process; more of both were encouraged to participate. This has been a public document in progress. Contact Cecilia Butler. The more close-in WPO impacted area is defined as 43rd to 67th and the Dan Ryan to the Lake.
Meanwhile, DePaul University divisions conducted Olympic studies- here and at other Olympic cities- how structured, what impacts, what kinds of "legacy", and what collateral benefits agreements were made and how they worked This was in addition to the Urban League/Kellogg School of Management survey already released and on line at www.thechicagourbanleague.org.
Also, later, SOUL (Southsiders Organizing for Unity and Liberation), CEO (Communities for an Equitable Olympics), and Hyde Park's CECD (Coalition for Equitable Community Development) started ongoing negotiations with aldermen, 2016 and others, including raised commitments such as to 30% affordable in Olympic Village, and 20% in all developments in an overlapping 2-mile radius of both the Washington Park Stadium and the Olympic Village.
More early viewpoints, summaries of
firstname.lastname@example.org (Althage, Craig)
[Note, Northeastern's Inner Cities Center held a forum on the Washington Park Olympics December 9 2006.]
I do not believe the proposed Olympics should be placed in Washington Park because it is in essence a call by developers for displacing the black community. Unfortunately too many ex-Mayor Washington supporters (now Daley rubber stampers) have been all too cozy with Yuppie Developers who are aggressively gentrifying the black community out of the surrounding neighborhoods. The developers use suspiciously racist arguments saying they want families restored into the area, however there are families there already, they just happen to be black and perhaps poor renters. They will also argue that they want more home ownership, yet this is not a valid argument since there are black families who own their own homes in these surrounding communities, they may however be priced out by rising property taxes. There is the argument which takes the side of a wealthier class that can pay for the taxes to go into the community for more development, such as TIF Tax Increment Financing, which has been shown to be totally flawed and mishandled funds have been taken out for Daley’s whims.
This proposal to bring the Olympics to Washington park is in reality more in keeping with the plan to change the whole face of Chicago known as the 21st Century Plan a plan that has been in existence for 30+ years and is more intended to create a less culturally diverse city in which white suburbanites can feel comfortable to spend their money here. The proposal in the very least is an example of what is so tragically wrong with America of the big spenders with implied racisms to divide classes against each other meant to keep people from sensing their true power against the greedish mendacity of wealth.
A good summary of range of views, considerations in surrounding neighborhoods. Maroon, March 2, 2007
by Sara Jerome
Members of the U.S Olympic Committee (USOC) will visit Chicago next week for the city's final chance to impress the committee in its bid to land the 2016 Summer Olympics nomination over rival Los Angeles. Chicago's Olympic proposal, featuring a prominent role for the South Side, has met praise from University administrators but mixed reactions from locals.
The proposals calls for the construction of an 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium in Washington Park, just west of campus. The stadium, earmarked to become a 5,000-seat amphitheater when the games end, would host the Olympics' opening and closing ceremonies as well as numerous athletic events.
With Olympic competitions staged so near to campus, University Affairs [vp] Hank Webber said Stagg Field and Ratner Athletics Center would be used as warm up facilities for the athletes. He said students would face "restrictions on utilization [of these facilities] during that summer," but anticipated little student objection since use of Ratner and Stagg dips in the summer. "I do think it involves a certain disruption we'll have to work on," he said. "On the other hand, there'll be great excitement to have the Olympics happening.... I think most people will take it in stride. "
University support for the Olympic bid is no surprise, with President Robert Zimmer sitting on the Chicago 2016 Exploratory Committee, the organization charged with fundraising for Chicago's bid. Webber said the University endorses the proposal in part because the Olympics might spark South Side economic development. "[The Olympics] creates th potential for considerable neighborhood rejuvenation, particularly in Washington Park," webber said, adding that the event could spur transportation improvements across the South Side.
Mia Sissac, spokesperson for Chicago's 2016 Olympic Exploratory Committee, echoed the view that the Olympics would benefit South Side neighborhoods. The Chicago Exploratory Committee aspires to leave an Olympic "legacy" on the South Side, she said, adding that the committee hopes the remaining amphitheater would provide a venue for cultural events and international performers.
Sissak said the Olympic committee would not leave Washington Park in a state of chaos. "Whatever grass is gone, we'll put all of that back. We're not just going to leave the holes," she said.
Nevertheless, some remain skeptical that Olympics-provoked development would benefit South Side locals. "The new development would be geared toward tourists, not towards residents who've always lived here," said second-year Hannah Jacoby, a member of the South Side solidarity Network, an RSO concerned with the needs of South Side residents. "[Development] would...lead to the destruction of some homes and local businesses and [would spur an] enormous jump in property taxes... it would dramatically change the makeup of the South Side. We need to keep our fingers crossed the Olympic Committee doesn't pick us," Jacoby said.
The Olympic bid provoked harsh criticism from Washington Park residents as well. Many worry the summer games will disrupt their community and detract from the setting of the park, a landmark listed in the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places. The park was designed in the 1870s by Frederick Law Olmsted, renowned architect of New York's Central Park and the University of Chicago campus [sic- early plan of Midway Plaisance].
"People are concerned about details of the planning. In the short term, the construction of the stadium will displace a number of activities," Webber said. Washington Park, which "creates community cohesion," according to Jacoby, is the stage fro various athletic competitions, summer parades, and festivals.
Washington Park Advisory Council (WPAC) President Cecilia Butler said locals will support the Olympics if the city considers their needs. Last Saturday, after two town meetings devoted to delineating locals' needs, WPAC drew up a 29-point list of conditions the city must meet to gain Washington Park residents' support. Requirements include control parking demand, protect parks, and safeguard the homes of tenants who fear displacement.
"[the Olympics] are a great opportunity... The whole world will have its eyes on us," Butler said. "But we need the city to support the people who are affected."
Like the WPAC members, many agree that the responsibility for making the Olympics a positive experience rests on the shoulders of the city government. Sissac emphasized the committee's role as a fundraising body and said it had little power to affect t he possibility of rising housing costs in Olympics neighborhoods. She said potential solutions to these problems, such as rent freezes, rests in the hands of the city.
Despite broad criticisms of Chicago's Olympic hopes, Webber said he is impressed by the support the city has garnered for the proposal. At press time, the Chicago 2016 Olympic Exploratory Committee reported 77,476 people had expressed support for the bid on its website. Webber attributed the support partly to the private control of Olympic fundraising, which leaves taxpayers off the hook. "I think most people understand that the Olympics is an extraordinary event," Webber said, calling the Olympic Games the leading sporting event in the world after the World Cup.
If Chicago wins the U.S. nomination, which will be announced in April, it will face competition from international cities, culminating in a final decision by the International Olympic Committee in 2009.
Coverage: including what Washington Park council members think; aldermanic caveats as well as praises.
Hyde Parkers imagine the Olympic on their turf- 95.000-seat Olympic stadium proposed for Washington Park. Hyde Park Herald September 27, 2006, by Kathy Chaney and Nykeya Woods.
Hyde Park civic leaders weighed in on Mayor Richard M. Daley's plan to bring the 2006 Olympic Games to Washington Park. Each felt the games would benefit the community. Alds. Toni Preckwinkle (4th), Leslie Hairston (5th) and Arenda Troutman (20th) proudly stood by Daley at a Sept. 20 press conference as he announced the city's proposal to use Washington Park as the primary site for the games.
If the plan, submitted sept. 22 to the Olympic Committee, is accepted, a 95,000-seat temporary stadium would be constructed in Washington Park and and be downsized to a permanent 10,000 seat amphitheater after the games.
"Our goal is to invest in Washington Park as a major sports and cultural destination," Daley said. Preckwinkle, whose ward lines the east periphery of the park, said the area around the park is mostly developed, but that her main concern was that the park is heavily used by players of all sports. If Chicago wins the bid, "Where would those activities go for the two years and what room will there be for them afterwards?" she asked. "The park will not be shut down. It would be in use during construction," Daley said.
Washington Park Advisory Council President Cecilia Butler said the council supported the idea as long as the proposed stadium used the underutilized seven hills near the DuSable Museum of African-American History, 740 E. 56th Pl. "Having it on the common ground will take away from the status of it being the largest playing field in the city," she said.
Daley hopes the plan will "create an urban legacy that will live well past the Olympic Games," and that the park's nearly 350 acres would allow for the state-of-the-art facility being proposed. Included in the plan are improvements such as street and public transportation connected to the park, better lighting, security measures and new pedestrian and bicycle paths.
Butler also has concerns about how other festivals in the park would be affected by the games. Her biggest concern is that the games do not close off certain sections and leave behind trash like some other current festivals do. The last festival, the African Festival of the Arts, left the park in the worst shape with raccoons springing up due to the amount of trash left behind, Butler said. She expects that those fests would be moved south of 55th Street.
Further east, University of Chicago officials are intrigued by the proposed Olympic plan. The university recently purchased Doctors Hospital and is entertaining thoughts of transforming the defunct hospital into a hotel. U of C's Hank Webber said that the mayor's plan does not change what the university will do with the property. "The Olympics coming to Chicago, while absolutely wonderful, will not have a major role in our decision-making. We are considering a hotel and conference center to serve the on-going needs of the community and university," Webber said. "The demand created by the Olympics would be icing on the cake."
Most businesses would benefit from the influx of people according to Bob Mason of the South East Chicago Commission. "I am sure the merchants in Hyde Park would love to see something like that because it would just bring masses of people into the area," Mason said.
Chicago, a finalist along with Los Angeles and San Francisco to host the 2016 Games, needs 60 international votes to win the bid. The International Olympic Committee will not pick a 2016 host city until 2009.
November 8 2006 Herald detects stronger opposition in Washington Park: Residents cry foul over Mayor Daley's 2016 Olympic plan
By Kalari Girtley
The Washington Park Advisory Council presented a list of residents' concerns about the 2016 Olympic to Mayor Richard M. Daley's superintendent of parks office last week.
In a meeting held Oct. 14 at the Washington Park Park field house, 5531 S. King Dr., about 60 residents voiced concerns on everything from residential parking permits to talks of a possible referendum being created that would protect residents from eminent domain.
Donna Smith, a user of the park for 13 years, demanded that some type of protection be provided for homeowners. She said people who lived around the United Center were forced from their homes when the center was expanded. "If there are private developers coming into this area, because that is where the money is coming from, [eminent domain] is a concern we have," Smith said. Smith also wants in writing a community benefit agreement that guarantees a portion of the profits made from the Olympics remain in the neighborhood. "If there are going to be businesses coming into the community, then they need to give back to the community," she said.
Bronzeville resident Patricia Hill said people need to worry about what will happen after the Olympics leave. She said she had contact with politicians from Atlanta, and that city did not fare well in the aftermath of the Olympics. She said grassroots organizations were eliminated, and people were displaced.
James Polk, a park user for more than 20 years, said after the Olympics leave and the stadium is still there, he feels the University of Chicago will come and buy up the land. He said he feels poor black people will be disenfranchised. "I don't want the [Olympics] here... I don't like it," Polk said.
Cecilia Butler, president of the Washington Park Advisory Council, said the community needs to be heard because it will be the residents' lives disrupted by the Olympics. "We want this to be a part of the agenda... We would like our own vendors, contractors and job training for African Americans," Butler said. "We are going to try to push for some of the proceeds to be be retained in the community."
Butler said she will try to get all of the concerns on the list addressed and acted on by the mayor. Butler plans to present it in front of the park commission board in November.
Groups protest city's Olympic stadium proposal during site visit; various view (Preckwinkle uncommitted? see below) Park closed to public for the day
Herald, March 14, 2007. By Kalari Girtley and Brian Wellner
Several local groups attempted to stage protests at the site of the proposed Olympic stadium in Washington Park the morning of March 7, when the United States Olympic Committee had planned to scope out the area. The Herald spoke to representatives of at least three groups including Friends of Washington Park. Yvonne Kyler, who represents the group, said beginning at 6 a.m. She and at least 20 other people stood in the large swath of park land to protest what may one day hold an 80,000-seat stadium until police told her group to leave, saying that Washington Park was closed for the day.
"They put us out and told us the park is closed," Kyler said. "They surrounded us with police and said the park is closed to the public today."
She and a few members of the group waited in the warmth of their cars parked just outside the arsenal building on Cottage Grove Avenue. Other group members were stationed at key entrances to the park, waiting.
Kyler said that by late morning the committee arrived to the park in busses but never stepped foot outside. They circled the site, which was designated by flags representing different countries, and then left the area. But before leaving they may have caught a glimpse of at least one car decorated with signs of protest to the stadium plan. "We wanted to show them that there are people here whose mouths have not been sealed," said Kyler, a Hyde Park resident.
For at least two hours that morning police had Payne Drive, the park's eastern inner drive, blocked at 55th Street and at Cottage Grove Avenue to through traffic. cars were also not also not allowed to park on the stretch.
While Friends of Washington Park opposes any attempt to pave over green space, Kyler is most concerned with the lack of community input in the process. "It is shameful that they would take a landmark park without consulting the community," she said.
In an article in the Herald in January, Ald. Toni Preckwinkle said she learned about the city's plan only hours before Mayor Richard M. Daley made his announcement last summer. After retaining her aldermanic seat in last month's election, she said she is waiting for a decision from the Chicago Bid Committee before declaring her official stance on the issue. She has been reluctant to support the stadium proposal since daley's announcement.
Cecilia Butler, president of Washington Park's advisory Council and the community representative on the Chicago 2016 committee, said the council lost the fight for where the stadium would be placed but won the right for a community representative to sit on the board.
Butler agrees with the plan. "We don't want to be selfish with our park," butler said. "When the Olympians are going up and down King drive, we will be proud of that."
Her council has been advocating for a long time to build an entertainment venue. She said the 5,000- seat arena that will replace the temporary 80,000-seat stadium after the Olympics are over will save time for organizations that construct makeshift stages during Washington Park's numerous summer festivals.
The University of Chicago is one of the stadium's chief advocates in the neighborhood. "The Olympics offer great potential for long term park improvements and is a great jolt in the rm of community revitalization on the South Side," said Hank Webber, vice president of community and government affairs.
First Schematics and interpretations thereof, January> 2007.
Schematic (To more maps of Washington Park)
Note that the Logistics and Broadcast centers are the old Armory, which many want to see have a new use--there are competing interests. Would the winner be displaced? The lighted area at the north end is Dyett High School. How would it be impacted? And there is really little left of the ball fields during the construction and olympic period. The dark green is the Olmsted and Vaux designed South Park System (less Burnham Park along the lakefront to the north.) The Torch Run would follow the lakefront and 55th St. (with a loop to the Museum of Science and Industry? and likely DuSable Museum?) Note: as of December 2008, "Hockey fields," moved early to Jackson Park, is re inserted as Aquatics- warm up, swimming, and water polo pools and diving well. The Warm Up would be an additional permanent addition.
January 2007 concept of the stadium
Updates on the plans January> 2007
The stadium size was decreased from 95,000 to 80,000. Its cost is set at $36 million. There will be no parking built. (some express fears tha lots of people will come and camp out in our parks. We are promised that transportation will be worked out with CTA. New: to the stadium and Washington Park (downsizing a bit), move of hockey to Jackson Park soccer fields, changes including a new pier along the south lakefront. As of now, no impact studies have been done. Backers promise that the guarantees, partly from an insurance giant and partly from sale of city assets, will not be borne by taxpayers. Many are starting to look hard at transport and infrastructure improvements needed and on how to have minority participation and local and broader economic revitalization.
The stadium will have a partial roof- fabric shaped like a boomerang, 117 luxury suites, and club seats. two-thirds of the seats are in a temporary grandstand. The stadium's temporary skin will be wrapped in photos of Olympic heroes. Designer is Ben Wood Studio Shanghai with local Goettsch Partners. Blair Kamin of the Tribune calls it elegant, memorable- especially from above- and respectful of the park. It will be most visible on the northeast side. Grand entries are on the north and southwest sides, the western two-thirds forming the letter "C". The eastern third would be built more like a permanent stadium. Height is 150 feet, half that of Soldier Field. Kamin says there should be a pubic hearing before the park district approves of it, not just a hearing for the amphitheater residual.
A potential drawback is placing concessions and restrooms outside the stadium at the park perimeter. This is done to reduce both space and foundation needs and hence cost. (Will patrons want to go outside to "go"?)
Plans are still sketchy about the remaining sports and performing venue that will replace the stadium after the Olympics. It may or may not have a track. And there is certain to be a fight over whether anything, and what, should remain. Blair Kamin says the amphitheater plan by Peter Schaudt is much improved, going 4 instead of 20 feet down and backed by 6 foot berms. But will it obstruct the Olmsted "endless vista" great field?
At the June 2 meeting in Washington Park with the 2016 members, a whole range of thought on matters and questions were raised. Among disclosures: no use of eminent domain or property acquisition outside the parks, permit residential parking is likely in the surrounding neighborhoods for the event period. The main 17-day Olympics will be followed by the 12-day paralympics.
Jackson Park council is in discussion with the park district about a siting that would be sequestered from and not inconvenience the general public or natural areas.
$50 million will come from developer rights for Olympic Village, the rest from "domestic sponsorships." A national company is already committed to building the stadium. Many companies are committed to bid on Olympic Village. These commitments should give the financial guarantees the Olympic Committee seeks.
There is a promise that prices of admission to events will be reasonable so the venues won't look half-filled. Also, video screens will be set up in some parks. Medals will probably be given in Millennium Park. Top
According to a brochure issued by 2016 at the time"
The Games & Washington Park
Olympic Stadium in Washington Park
The Chicago 2016 plan calls for a temporary stadium to be built on the southeast corner of the northern section of Washington Park. Current concepts call for and 80,000-capacity stadium for Games-time that would be converted after the Games to a much smaller "legacy" facility capable of hosting sporting and cultural events.
The process to refine the initial concepts will try to balance the interests of the community and the impact on Washington Park, while still providing Olympic athletes and visitors a spectacular experience. Likewise, the exact plans for the "legacy" facility will be further defined with community input. What will not change is that, if Chicago is successful, future generations will visit Washington Park to see where manor events of the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games took place.
Some elements of the current plans are below.
- At Games-time, the Olympic Stadium will only occupy approximately1/5 of the northern section of Washington Park.
- Temporary support facilities around the Olympic 'stadium will only exist during the Games and will occupy another 1/5 of the northern section of Washington Park.
- During the Games, the surrounding park area will be turned into a "Live Site" allowing people without a ticket to the events to experience the spirit of the Games and other activities.
- The Olympic Stadium will fit naturally into the existing landscape of the park, leaving a logical footprint as part of the Olympic Legacy.
Friends of the Parks at the time:
This reporter, Gary Ossewaarde, talked to Erma Tranter, President of Friends of the Parks, January 24. She indicated FOTP has the same concerns as published, including that the teams will be out of luck and devastated during four years of construction. But, Tranter said, a search found is no legal or practical way to stop the stadium. She advised communities to seek good planning, preparation, and infrastructure/amenities to mitigate disruptions in the park and surroundings and make sure the park goes back as much to previous state as possible. She thought that moving the stadium to another part of the park would create as many problems as it would solve. She did say the ways for pedestrians to bridge Morgan Drive, which the Framework Plan calls to be less of a highway-bisecting-the park as well as for downsizing the other roads, were a good idea, although maybe too much.
Friends of the Parks says "Washington Park Not Best Site for Olympic Stadium."
From the Advocate, Fall 2006, see also below as in Hyde Park Herald December 20
The Olympic Committee recently announced its plan to build a 95,000-seat stadium in Washington Park as part of its proposals to host the Games in 2016. The proposed Olympic Stadium would house the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as track and field events and open-air festivals.
Friends of the Parks opposes the plan. The National Register of Historic Places lists Washington Park, one of Chicago's oldest parks, as a cultural resource worthy of preservation. Frederick Law Olmsted, the greatest landscape designer in our nation's history, designed Washington Park in the 19th century. The park lies between 51st Street on the north, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive on the west, 60th Street on the south and Cottage Grove Avenue on the east.
Instead of Washington Park, Friends of the Parks urges the city to relocate the proposed stadium to other undeveloped parcels of land that would make better stadium venues. At least two large tracts of land on the South Side offer a unique opportunity to develop a major temporary stadium venue for the Olympic Games. Both parcels would benefit from the influx of capital a temporary Olympic stadium would provide. Both parcels would benefit from the construction of necessary public transit links to the area. Both park-deficient parcels would also greatly benefit from the lasting legacy of a new park left after the Games.
The USX Site
The first tract of land, the USX site, consists of 580 acres at 79th and Lake Michigan which used to house the U.S. Steel plant. Visitors to the Olympics could reach this location from downtown Chicago in twenty minutes, the same travel time as Washington Park.
The city should consider the USX site, now cleared of buildings, cleaned of toxins, and ready for development, as an ideal location for the temporary 95,000-seat Olympic stadium. The location would offer picturesque views of the lake, and would help the city develop a 125-acre lakefront park, new housing, a completed South Lake Shore Drive, and a new link to public transit. All of this development would offer jobs and lasting improvements to the city's Southeast Side.
Port District is Another Option
The second tract of land, the Illinois International Port District land at 89th Street and Lake Michigan, would also offer an opportunity to bring change to an area ripe for development. The port sees little activity these days. fourteen percent of its budget comes from port business, while eighty-sex percent comes from the Harborside Golf Course. The Chicago Park District and the Army Corps of Engineers already have plans to construct a new lakefront park on top of a confined disposal facility located on the property.
This site would also make for an impressive Olympic venue with its views and vistas of downtown Chicago, its location on Lake Michigan. and its adjacency to Calumet Park. Again, a new park and new, useful and permanent links to public transit would bring lasting benefits to the community.
In either of these cases, the city could develop and improve neglected city land, create permanent parks to complete the lakefront park system, create transportation links to isolated communities, and bring lasting economic development to an area that has suffered for decades.
Washington Park Not Good Option
Washington Park, on the other hand, does not need redevelopment. Building the stadium in Washington Park would deprive the community of well-used baseball, soccer and cricket fields for years during construction and demolition, and permanently if a 10,000-person sunken bowl remains at this location after the games. Washington Park's listing on the National Register of Historic Places cannot survive this Olympic plan. Because of its landmark status, federal dollars could not be used to build a temporary stadium at this park site. We need a better plan and better venues. Top
Letter: Washington Park, on the other hand, is not an abandoned site in need of redevelopment. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Washington Park is on the National Register of Historic Places. The open area currently proposed for the Olympic stadium is now heavily used for baseball, soccer and cricket. These field will be lost for year during construction and demolition, and the ball fields would be lost permanently if a 10,000 person sunken bowl remained at this location after the Games.
Washington Park's listing on the National Register of Historic Places, cannot survive this Olympic plan. because of its landmark status, federal dollars could not be used to build a temporary stadium at this site. We need a better plan and better venues.
Blair Kamin gives clarifications, broader groups' concerns
Chicago Tribune, January 23, 2007. By Blair Kamin.
Chicago’s Olympic bid organizers on Tuesday are expected to unveil their vision for a massive temporary stadium in Washington Park, a plan that also calls for major improvements to the historic park, according to open space and historic preservation advocates who have been briefed on the plan in recent weeks.
But some open space advocates argue that a key feature of the plan—which calls for converting the stadium into an underground amphitheater after the 2016 Summer Games—would disrupt the park’s protected landscapes and obstruct the sports activities that currently take place there.
They’re trying to leave behind something that the community has not called for,” said Erma Tranter, president of Friends of the Park. “It is a counter use to what the park is used for right now in that area—baseball fields, soccer field and cricket. A depression would remove space that is needed right now.
The 350-acre Washington Park was designed in 1871 by legendary landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and his partner Calvert Vaux. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which means any changes to the park using federal dollars would require a public hearing.
Other open space and historic preservation advocates, however, were more positive, pointing out that the plan calls for land bridges that would extend over busy roads in Washington Park. According to the advocates, the bridges would improve pedestrian access to the Du Sable Museum of African-American History, located on the park’ east side, and a pool and locker building on the park’s were side designed by the firm of renowned Chicago Architect Daniel Burnham.
Gerald Adelmann, executive director of the Openlands Project, a non-profit group, said the proposed amphitheater would likely have stone ledges rather than fixed wooden or metal seating, making it “very naturalistic.”
It remained unclear Monday if the amphitheater would contain a track, as initial plans suggested. “It’s still pretty conceptual,” Adelmann said.
“We are guardedly optimistic that they can build a stadium and remove it without destroying Olmsted features,” said David Bahlman, president of Landmarks Illinois and co-chair of the National Association for Olmsted Parks. “It would have to be an invisible landscape feature that didn’t compromise the Olmsted Plan.”*
[* Does this mean below ground level?]
Tuesday’s news conference is expected to provide the first glimpse of architects’ plans for the stadium. In September organizers said the cost of the temporary facility had risen by 50 percent, to $300 million. The stadium would seat 95,000 spectators, organizers said, with the amphitheater’s seating pegged at 10,000 people.
Historic preservationists initially expressed skepticism that the multimillion-dollar stadium would be dismantled, fearing it would mar Washington Park for decades. The issue is now less pressing, Bahlman indicated. “Pat Ryan explained to us that whatever is funded by the Olympics itself—revenue from tickets, concessions, etc.—has to be temporary,” Bahlman said. Ryan, chairman of Aon Corp., is Mayor Richard Daley’s point man for Chicago’s bid.
Hyde Park Herald says, Keep Olympic stadium out of Washington Park- avoid the “big temptation” to use park land as an open land bank.
January 24, 2007
Park land is more of a temptation that a natural resource in Chicago. It’s city-owned and comes free of charge when a politician is scouting a location for, say, a local school or a structure on an Olympic scale.
No one in the city knows this better than Hyde Park’s former alderman, Leon Despres, a tireless advocate of keeping open space open. He wrote in his memoir ”Challenging the Daley Machine” that the one time Mayor Richard J. Daley had called Despres a “liar “ during a city council meeting was over a debate about building a school in Washington Park in 1970.
Despres argued then that park land should not be used for non-park purposes. At the time he opposed the construction of Dyett High School on the north end of the park and criticized the city for turning its back on laws that protect open space. Daley shot the e epithet back at Despres and was about to engage the alderman in a debate on the council floor but couldn't because the council pro-tem had failed to recognize the mayor.
Despres shared the story in an interview with the Herald last week. The 98-year-old resident of Hyde Park recalled the sheep that decades ago used to graze on Washington Park’s meadow in the warm weather to keep the grasses short and the cricket teams that still play there every summer.
He shared this in the context of a proposed 95,000-seat stadium the city is now proposing for that meadow to anchor Chicago’s chances of hosting the 2016 Olympics, which was given another boost Monday when a new bidding campaign was unveiled.
A different Mayor Daley is at the helm. But the same Leon Despres is making the same argument to preserve the pen space, and he opposes the stadium plan. The Herald agrees with the former alderman.
The famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted designed Washington Park along with Jackson Park and Midway Plaisance for 1893 World’s Fair*, years after he designed Central Park in New York City. But pone would never dream of plopping an Olympic-sized stadium in Central Park. So one might wonder why Washington Park in the heart of Chicago’s South Side is so easily expendable.
[*The “South Parks” as a whole were designed 1869-71 by Olmsted and Vaux. Jackson Park’s landscape was re-designed for the Fair by Olmsted (reporting to Burnham); others modified the Midway and Washington Park to be compatible with the Fair. Olmsted’s firm again redesigned Jackson Park after the Fair.- Ed.]
Despres never thought so. “I thought it was a terrible act to put a school in the park,” he told the Herald. And as for the Olympic stadium, “That is just awful,” he said.
Hyde Park residents have begun sounding off in disagreement with the city’s Olympic stadium. The Herald has received a few letters in opposition since Daley announced the plan last September at a press conference in the park. And concerns raised a local forums and monthly Washington Park Advisory Council meetings have suggested a stadium that size and located in the park’s meadow will bring more headaches than benefits, like more traffic and parking congestion, noise, liter, crime, etc.
That being said, one might argue the naysayers aren’t thinking big. Actually, it was Olmsted who thought big more than a century ago. He knew Chicago would become a world class city and he helped make that possible when he designed the parks. If New York can have Central Park, why can’t Chicago have a system of parks equal in size and scope?
Olmsted envisioned a city known not just for its building architecture but for its landscape architecture as well. And Hyde Park is a treasure chest of landscape architecture, from Washington Park through the Midway to the Jackson Park lagoons and the Promontory Point limestone revetment.
These parks are worthy of preservation. And to preserve park land means to keep it open at all costs, even if it means the Olympic stadium has to move elsewhere. Parks should not be t he first open spaces to ripped apart under pressure of an expanding urban jungle.
Building a stadium in Washington Park is an impetus to other concrete growth. Where do you construct a parking lot tot accommodate 95,000 people? And what about the burden of traffic on roads that surround the park? Cottage Grove Avenue, King Drive and 55h Street may all need to be expanded. Then there are other facilities for visitors and athletes. The city’s proposal indicates a hockey venue will be constructed just north of the stadium in the park as well as a broadcast compound along Payne Drive.
Such a big, open space like Washington Park must be so tempting. It’s like a quick fix for ambitious needs. Sure, Chicago need the Olympics in 2016. And wherever the stadium is built might do wonders in terms of infrastructure improvements, a new hotel and some new coffee shops for the surrounding area.
But open land is so valuable to our city. Washington Park provides a great breathing space in a crowded urban environment. a Herald photographer captured a rare picture of a Whopping Crane, an endangered bird native to Canada, while waking in the Washington Park lagoons in spring 2005. That image caught the attention of conservation groups and the Chicago Reader did a write-up on the photographer. Even a rare bird found sanctuary in Washington Park.
To turn over what little unbuilt space the city has to Olympic-sized ambitions would be a terrible detriment to South Siders and a strain on the city’s legacy. At the very least, the city must reconsider the plan.
Thankfully, the city’s Olympic committee recently agreed to allow one member of the Washington Park Advisory Council to join. That representative should channel to fellow committeemen the concern felt locally. But that representative has another, bigger responsibility that would require the assistance of our elected officials, Friends of the Parks and local residents—to persuade the committee t leave Washington Park alone.
The Herald asks that Hyde Park’s current aldermen join in the tradition of Leon Despres and persuade the mayor to keep a stadium out of Washington Park. Land that is enjoyed by all and protected by no one needs an advocate.
[In the February 14 2007 Herald, former Ald. Leon Despres called this a wonderful editorial. ]
A counter to the Herald editorial, by David L. Hoyt, January 31, 2007. HP Herald should embrace the new
On the subject of an Olympic stadium in Washington Park, the Herald's editorial of Jan. 24 categorically opposing the plan puts it in the company of "ad hoc committees" that repeatedly pop up in opposition to any change whatsoever. As with other development projects in and around Hyde Park, the goal in Washington Park should bee progressive urban planning that combines the best of the old and the new. Rejection of the new altogether is reactionary, and so therefore is rejection of the Washington Park stadium.
To argue, as the Herald does, that Washington Park should be preserved because it was designed by the same landscape architect who designed Manhattan's Central Park ignores the vastly different conditions that shape land use in both places. The South Side is not Manhattan. It is much less densely populated, and has relatively more green space per person. Rather than having affluent 5th Avenue as its boundary, Washington Park adjoins some of he poorest census tracts in the City.
Instead of looking to New York for guidance as to the best use of Washington Park, we would do better to consider Chicago's own history. The most instructive precedent for the current proposal is the 1893 Columbian Exposition and its accompanying economic boom. Promoter of the fair argued that it would bring development to Chicago, and it did. Chicago's first transit infrastructure, acres of and reclaimed from the Lake and a good amount of the charming architecture that Hyde Parkers now inhabit. Like the planned stadium for Washington Park, the great majority of 1893 structures were temporary and disappeared soon after the event. Of the mass of railway tracks and exposition halls, only a few structures now remain.
There is no good reason why a similar outcome can't be envisioned for Washington Park. A temporary stadium, already scaled down from the original proposal, would bring needed economic activity to languishing neighborhoods adjacent to Hyde Park. The proposed earthen amphitheater that would remain after demolition of the stadium would be a very modest alteration of Olmsted's design, especially in view of the possible benefits to the South Side as a whole.
Herald's March 7 summarization of reasons against, call on Ald. Preckwinkle to oppose stadium.
Oppose the Olympic stadium in Washington Park. It is just too massive and the Frederic Law Olmsted-designed park is no place for a construction of that magnitude, or any for that matter. The stadium will ruin the nature of Washington Park and its role as one of the last remaining free, green spaces in the city.
Chicago may have a decent chance at nabbing the Olympics for 2016, but Washington Park should not be used as the pawn in that process. It has served a far greater purpose than that since it was created for the 1893 World's Fair [sic!]. It hosts summer festivals and unique sporting activities. Rare species of bird have been spotted frolicking in the lagoons. And it serves as the backyard for the neighborhood that surround it.
Community input around the stadium and other Olympic-themed projects has been minimal. Remember how you first learned of this plan. It's a slap in the pace to the South side. Please do not endorse a stadium in Washington Park.
Hyde Park Historical Society weighs in against Washington Park stadium
Letter in Hyde Park Herald, February 28 2007
The Board of the Hyde Park Historical Society would like to declare its opposition to the placement of an Olympic stadium in historic Washington Park. Frederick Law Olmsted, our nation's greatest landscape designer, created Washington Park more than a century ago with the "Open Green" pastoral meadow as its central feature. Washington Park is so historically significant that it is listed on the National Register of Historic Paces as an American cultural resource worthy of preservation.
A stadium, temporary or permanent, would destroy the meadow, disfigure the park, and threaten the National Register listing.
A long list of civic-minded Chicagoans--from Montomery Ward to Cal Sawyier and Leon Despres--have insisted that the public trust of our historic park land not be violated. This public trust demands that our parks remain forever open, clear and free--in particular free of oversized public works projects. A stadium in Washington Park would be a blatant violation of the public trust.
We ask our elected officials, Aldermen Preckwinkle and Hairston, to express this opposition to the mayor and city council.
Carol Bradford, President
Donna Graham agrees, Feb. 6 2007. She cites other needs including open space.
Washington Committee alters stand, name April 5, 2008
Olympic group sets new goals. Hyde Park Herald, April 9, 2008. By Kate Hawley
A group that has been trying for almost a year to ensure benefits for the community if an Olympic stadium is build in Washington Park set a slightly different course Saturday, changing it name and considering a narrower, more focused set of priorities. The Washington Park Advisory Council, a volunteer group that oversees park activities, formed its Olympic Committee last May, when it became clear that the 2016 Games could radically impact the park and the surrounding communities.
At a meeting Saturday at the Washington Park Field House, the committee renamed itself the Washington Park Olympic Coalition as part of its strategy to partner with other community organizations. "I think a coalition has more depth. It's more inviting," said Michael McClinton, a council member. The dozen or so people who showed up for the meeting agreed, including Phil Beckham. It was his first time attending a meeting, but not his first experience with how the Olympics impact American cities.
His company, the Harvey-based Beckham Transit, provided buses for the 1996 games in Atlanta, allowing him a firsthand look at how community groups succeeded or failed in securing benefits, he said. These groups need to be large, with hundreds of people involved, and they need to ask for just a few benefits, he said. He surveyed he coalitions's "26-point plan," drafted in October, with goals ranging from "representation on the Olympic Committee" to "Concession and other agreements for the African-American community throughout infinity."
"It has to be one group with four or five initiatives," he said. "Wow," said Cecilia Butler, who chairs the advisory council and the coalition. "I want to thank you, because you put us in a different direction." Butler said the group remains committee to the goals laid out in the 26-point plan. but she began writing down Beckham's suggested goals, with an eye toward focusing on them in coming months: creating companies, helping schools, purchasing property and making money from property they already owned. "It's about the money," Beckham said, eliciting murmurs of agreement from the group. He suggested starting a fund that would allow the coalition to purchase property near the park-and hold onto property they already owned.
Butler asked if Beckham would speak on this subject at the coalition's one-year anniversary meting, to be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 3, at the park's refectory, 5531 S. Russell Drive. "You bring it down to where it needs to be," she said. In the meantime, Butler urged fellow coalition members to brainstorm ideas for a ballot referendum on "taxes, zoning and eminent domain." several people who attended the meeting said t hey feared t heir property would be seized under eminent domain should Chicago be chosen for the 2016 Olympics.
The coalition also set a goal to get schools involved with Washington Park Discovery Day in early June. The annual event aims to introduce school children to nature and science through displays from an array of recreational agencies and cultural groups.
The coalition hopes to form strong relationships with local schools, eventually introducing the Olympics into their curricula, said Christine Perkins, who also works on education for the Grand Boulevard Federation.
Butler was in favor of spreading the word to as many people in the community as possible. "This time next year, everybody's got to be in love with the idea of the Olympics," she said.
The U.S. Olympic Committee visited, and announced its decision in April 14, 2007, which was to award its nod to Chicago. (The Int'l Com. will make is selection in October 2009.) The final duke-out with LA was with sweeteners, implying, one hopes, that the merits of the bids were equivalent. (A Chicago insurance firm offered to back up to $500 million.)
The visiting committee did not alight from buses during its South Side excursion, so avoiding a small group of opposed demonstrators (report below.) Yet, the visitors were reported by Patrick Sandusky of the Chicago 2016 Committee, pleased at the proximity of each venue to the others and to the lakefront.
The apparent shocker was their insistence that the city back/guarantee from city funds to the tune of $500 million - just a short time after the Mayoral election, Mayor Daley having said there would be not public cost. Actually, it is a backup, partly with sale of city assets by McPier, and is unlikely to involve any kind of appropriation. In city Council, Ald. Preckwinkle voted no, citing lack of transparency or information-sharing, while Ald. Hairston voted yes, saying it is a wonderful thing to host an event on that scale and prestige and full of wonderful things and opportunities for the neighborhoods. (She did call for inclusion and transparency.) She clarified to the April 11 Herald that she hopes Chicago is chosen: "We have a beautiful city, and this will give us an opportunity to share it with the world." Cecilia Butler, President of Washington Park Council, said the stadium will bring tourism an money to the area, and an entertainment venue. The said the next hurdle is answer to the community's other 28 points.
From Herald April 18 2007 coverage:
Cecilia Butler, president of the Washington Park Advisory Council, said now that the city has the United States bid, she will turn up the heat on Mayor Richard M. dAley about her council's 27 concerns voiced at recent council meetings. The concerns range from greater security and lighting in Washington Park to the construction of a stadium and other facilities.
The proposed stadium will host the opening and closing ceremonies of the XXXI Olympiad Games. The stadium is temporary and will be reduced down to a 5,000 -to-10,000-seat amphitheater after the 28-sport event leaves.
Butler hopes that Hyde Park can tap into any surge in commerce that comes as a result of the Olympics. "The community needs both 53rd street and 55th Street to have a viable business district, Butler said. "There is a lot of work to be done."
From the April 17 2007 Maroon
At a rally held in Washington Park Field House yesterday, black community leaders, joined by Mayor Richard Daley, gathered with South Side residents to celebrate Chicago's selection over Los Angeles. Cecilia Butler, president of the Washington Park Advisory Council (WPAC), opened the proceedings with a whole-hearted and enthusiastic endorsement of the USOC's decision. Butler and the WPAC previously produced a list of 27 points that the council thinks need to be addressed in order to make Washington Park's centrality to the Olympics beneficial to both the Games and to local residents.
Included among these requests are WPAC representation on the Chicago Olympic Committee, job training and Olympics-related internships for local students, improved safety and conditions in Washington Park, and support for cooperative housing. While few of the committee's concerns were addressed during Monday's rally, which took a largely celebratory tone, Butler said in a prior interview that the committee's concerns remained a top priority for the WPAC.
"Our position has not changed," Butler said. "We support the Olympics, but we're asking the mayor and everyone else to support jobs, the economy, and the community. That campaign started Saturday."
While not specifically citing the WPAC's list, Daley did emphasize the important role that the Olympics would play in the lives of local students. "We're going to every grammar school and high school.. to open the eyes of young people about Olympic sports," he said, invoking the history of prominent South Side residents who have gone on to become successful Olympians, including Jesse Owns and rally-speaker Mike Conley.
Report on early 2007 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.
Washington Park Neighborhood Association
May 4, 2007
Dear Washington Park Stakeholders:
Important decisions are being made concerning the Washington Park community by the Mayor, University of Chicago, foundations and developers that stand to make history along with the fame and fortune that accompany moves of this magnitude. Unfortunately, the people that these moves will impact are being overlooked with no regard to their thoughts or ideas. We are divided as a people with different agendas; but it is time to come together as one for a common goal, enhancing and preserving our community (where we live, worship, and work).
We welcome the 2016 Olympics and as stakeholders (TAX PAYERS, VOTERS, AND CITIZENS) we are entitled to have input on anything that comes to Washington Park, and we must demand a seat at the table. Our participation in the planning process is crucial.
I appeal to all churches, businesses, organizations, and residents of Washington Park to attend a Town Hall meeting on Saturday, May 19, 2007 in the St. Edmund’s Church Parish Hall located at 6105 S. Michigan Avenue to discuss the future of our community. Representatives from the Chicago 2016 Committee, the University of Chicago and the Police commanders from the 2nd and 3rd Districts have been invited to address the community. In addition, please plan to attend the City Council meeting on May 23, 2007 to voice our concerns at City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle Chicago, Illinois 60602 at 10:00 a.m.
July 2 2007 public meeting, the first broad one on the South Side, held in Washington Park
July 2 2007 the first wide public meeting on the Olympics was held in Washington Park for 4th, 5th (and opened to 20th and 3rd) ward residents. Doing most of the answering was vice chairman of the 2016 Committee Valerie Jarrett. Also answering, and the contact /community relations point person for communities, was Gyata Kimmons, 312 861-9852, email@example.com. Four aldermen were present- Preckwinkle (4th) and Hairston (5th) who originally convened the meeting, the third Ward alderman Pat Dowell, and Cochrane from the 20th.
There was a fair cross section present. Nearly every topic and concern conceivable was touched upon, sometimes with contentiousness. A few questions could be answered definitively, but most seemed to be awaiting more completed studies and decisions or were answered with confidence that they could be resolved. Jarrett agreed that input is needed and said it is wanted and that the experience/ management and aftermath must include participation by and better communities (including schools) without displacement. She said many of the improvements needed will have to come from the city and higher funders rather than the Olympics. She guaranteed there will be no cost to taxpayers.
Here is the Herald's take, July 11, by Kalari Girtley.
In a key concession to demands by Hyde Park residents and other South Siders, the Chicago 2016 Olympic committee recently acknowledged their arm's length approach to residents and vowed to open up their process. "The time for secrecy is over," said newly appointed Committee Community Relations Director Gyata Kimmons. "We have to get everyone involved and we have a lot of work to do."
Ever since the city announced months ago plans to erect buildings in Jackson and Washington parks, Hyde Parkers have been complaining th at they are not getting accurate information about the plans, nor are they a part of the conversation. The Olympic committee's plans include a massive, 95,000-seat stadium in Washington Park and a hockey rink in Jackson Park. "I want to know what influence the Olympics will have on businesses during and after they have left," said. Hyde Park resident Michael Cannon. "I want to see what is going to happen to our park during the construction and breakdown of this temporary stadium." The proposed Washington Park stadium would be dismantled after the games and a 5,000-seat arena would take its place, according to Olympic committee officials.
Kimmons promised residents access to the committee. "You have to come out and hear the people. You have to hear the good and the bad so the things that are good you try to continue and things that are bad you try to address," Kimmons, who was appointed to his post a few weeks ago, said. "I am not trying to say that I have the magic bullet to address all the issues , but what I will be able to do is to advocate on the individual's behalf."
Kimmons comments came at a public meeting convened July 2 by the aldermen of the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 20th wards, the first effort the politicians have made to address the community as a whole regarding potential impact of Olympic building construction on the parks.
"All these things that will be happening in the Olympics will be impacting our homes," said 5th Ward Ald. Leslie Hairston. "This is one of the reasons [4th Ward Ald. Toni] Preckwinkle and I decided we needed to bring all the wards together instead of acting in a vacuum."
From an HPKCC report on the July meeting:
Washington Park Advisory Council’s Olympic Committee is in discussion with Chicago2016 about 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.
More about the Washington Park Olympic Committee and the June 2 meetings
Local advisory council creates its own 2016 Olympic committee. Hyde Park Herald June 20, 2007. By Kalari Girtley.
The Washington Park Advisory Council recently debuted its Olympic Committee, which will hold its next meeting on July 7. After several community meetings, the advisory council members composed a 26-point proposal of problems that residents want addressed if the games come to the city.
The points highlight issues of affordable housing, property taxes, eminent domain and economic developments. The points also address the community benefit agreement that states funds generated by the Olympics will improve park infrastructure such as more lighting and rehabilitating the park's sewer system. These points have been developing since last October and was finalized with the Washington Park Olympic Committee kick off meeting.
Rasheedah Johnson and her husband, both Washington Park residents, attended their first ever Olympic community issue meeting. Johnson said she wanted to get involved now so she could protect her home from the possibility of eminent domain." I want to do anything I can to [save] my home," Johnson said. "If it means coming out to these meetings and getting involved, I will do that." [Ed. note: members of the 2016 Olympics committee said at the June 2 Olympic meeting there will be no use of eminent domain.]
Cecilia Butler, president of the Washington Park Advisory council, wants to see a sub-committee formed for each of the 26 points. "These are points that the community cares most about and wants to see addressed," Butler said. Butler said she has been in talks with the Chicago Olympi9c 2016 Committee, and they are listening, but nothing has been finalized.
On the other hand, she said many of the points have to occur if the Olympics come here or not. "We need better streets with or with out the Olympics; we need more economic development with or with out the Olympics, and we need more jobs for our youth and more jobs in general, with or with out the Olympics," Butler said.
Another issue that was raised in the meeting was retaining the park's landmark status after the 80,000-seat arena has been built and reduced to the 5,000-seat entertainment venue when the Olympics departe[s].
Gary Ossewaarde, member of the Jackson Park Advisory Council said the stance that the Washington Park Advisory Council is taking is very unique and he would like to see Jackson Park go down the same road.
"We have not started dealing with it yet because we have been so discouraged that the hockey center was going to be built in our park," Ossewaarde said. "We have not found it possible to take a position on it."
The next Washington Park Olympic committee meeting will occur on July 7 at 9 a.m. in the field house, 5531 S. King Dr. Top
Maroon report, November 11, 2008. By Ella Christoph
At a Washington Park community meeting on Saturday, moderator Leon Finney evoked local residents' enthusiasm about Barack Obama's victory to introduce local challenges that face the neighborhood. "This is the time for us to stand together with people of like mind in order to get something done," said Finney, the chairman of The Woodlawn Organization.
At the meeting, University of Chicago Vice President of Civic Engagement Sonya Malunda attempted to alleviate neighborhood concerns about the University's expansion west of South Cottage Grove avenue into the Washington Park area, where the U of C has purchased 10 parcels of land this year and is in the midst of negotiating the purchase of five more parcels, totaling slightly less than four acres along West Garfield Boulevard between South King Drive adn south Prairie Avenue. Until recently, the University had not developed west into Washington Park, expanding both north and south instead.
The University has yet to create plans for the use of these properties but hopes to provide economic growth and jobs in the neighborhood. Development possibilities include outreach and career initiatives, increased involvement in local schools, after-school programs, and youth development. "We don't have a plan. We felt that if we came in with a plan, the community wouldn't be happy with that," Malunda said.
Malunda underscored the University's hopes to facilitate a process that is engaged, transparent, and participatory to determine the best uses for the land.. We realize we cannot simply invest on the community, acquire property in the community, without offering community benefits," she said.
Community members' concerns harkened back to the University's history of urban renewal in the 1950s and '60s, when it earned criticism as insular and racist, particularly for the way it pushed out many of the poor black residents of Woodlawn. Malunda attempted to assuage fears that University development would make the neighborhood less affordable and force poor residents out of the area.
"It is not our intent to push anyone out of their homes," she said. "It is not our intent to purchase the entire Washington Park area," She added that the University does not have eminent domain status, which meant it does not share the powers of the government to take private property for public use.
However, some property owners welcomed University involvement, expressing hopes that development of vacant and dilapidated building would raise property values. Others said they hoped that the University would keep its promises and provide more resources to the community. "This is our opportunity to work with you, to seek your help in prioritizing, in seeing how you would like to be involved," Malunda said, adding that the University plans to work with 20th-Ward Alderman Willie Cochran and Third-Ward Alderman Pat Dowell.
The possibility of Chicago hosting the 2016 Olympics, which will in part take place in Washington Park if Chicago wins the bid, has influenced plans for the future of the neighborhood, which currently has about 1,000 abandoned properties and has lost over three-quarters of its population in the last 50 years [and has 21% unemployment before the crash]. The increased development and economic success in Hyde Park and Woodlawn has not spread to the Washington Park area, Malunda said. "The Olympics can be and impetus. It can be a catalyst for the community to come together," Malunda said, adding that regardless of the impact of the Olympics, the focus will be on resources for the community.
"Really, the question is, 'What will the community be in 2017?'" she said. Malunda publicized some of the University's recent community development efforts, which have aimed to create safe, mixed-use communities, attract high quality retail, expand mixed-income housing opportunities, and create permanent jobs.
Some people attended the meeting to express a hope that the new development would provide construction jobs for residents of the area. They said that high crime rates in Washington Park were mainly due to a lack of job opportunities. "The only reason criminals are doing what they did is because they're not employed,: Washington Park resident Juan Montgomery said.
Malunda advertised the recently launched Career Pathways Initiative, which aims to help residents of Woodlawn, Washington Park, and the mid-South neighborhoods find quality employment at the University, the Medical Center, and with other employers. So far, the program has assisted 100 residents in finding positions. Top