Obamas reveal more details and images for Presidential Center in Chicago

Glen Norman
January 14, 2018

And while community members have anxious that the Obama Presidential Center will take up space in a way that inexorably alters the historic place's character, the new plans assert that the closure of nearby Cornell Drive will create a net gain in total park acreage.

"We remain steadfast in our opposition to the confiscation of public parkland for the Obama Presidential Center, which is a private facility", Charles A. Birnbaum, President & CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation, told Breitbart News Wednesday.

The Obama Center as now planned will not provide the promised development or economic benefits to the neighborhoods.

The complex consists mainly of four buildings- the museum tower, a forum, a library and an athletic center, plus a plaza. The group also complains the center abandoned plans to be a library and instead will have only electronic archives on site.

The Obama Library South Side Community Benefits Agreement Coalition says "low-income, working-, and middle-class communities" will be "directly impacted by the development of the Obama Presidential Center".

In a letter signed by scores of faculty members, the professors argue that while they broadly "support the idea of establishing the Obama Center in our neighborhood", they also share many concerns expressed by local community groups about the existing proposal. However, it questions the decision to locate the center in Jackson Park. On the current plans the intrusion into the park is huge: twenty-one acres, the size of two large city blocks.

"At a time of increasing complexity and pressure in urban life, Chicago should be dedicated to preserving our public parks as open areas for relaxation and play for all its citizens", the letter states, criticizing the slated intrusion into the Midway Plaisance and Jackson parks. But the patchwork "remedies" presented by the Obama Foundation do not address the fundamental problem of Jackson Park being the wrong choice for the center. "Overall, this is a socially regressive plan". The required widening of Lake Shore Drive alone is estimated to be over $100 million. "We are concerned that these are not the best ways to use public funds to invest in the future of Chicago", the letter says.

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