Questions remain ahead of important vote on creation of Obama Presidential Center
Next week, the city is poised to take the first of several votes on the Obama Presidential Center. The Plan Commission is expected to approve the 19-acre site in historic Jackson Park. But the vote is not without some controversy, as some community groups say they want to slow down the process.
Since this structure will take up valuable, federally protected park space, the dispute is over how much land the Obama Foundation should give back for new park space. The foundation’s argument, which is supported by the National Park Service and the city of Chicago, is that most of the center is going to be open park space. A majority of it will be built atop a submerged structure; in fact, only 2.6 acres will be used for the buildings. In addition, the closing of Cornell Drive, a six-lane structure to the east of Stony Island, will create new parkland that wasn’t there before, totaling a 4.6-acre gain. That means the foundation doesn’t need to take any other parcels of land and turn it into park space.