The Coalition filed Freedom of Information Requests months ago with many City departments. Many were somewhat responsive. One response revealed that the Mayor’s Office is “coordinating” all FOIA responses to our requests. Unlike most other City departments, the Chicago Park District met our FOIA requests with obfuscation and silence. Finally, the Coalition filed a FOIA lawsuit against the District. In today’s Hyde Park Herald, we explain why.
Jackson Park was created for the use and enjoyment of the people who have paid for it: the citizens of Chicago. For over 100 years, Chicagoans–Black, Latino, White, Asian, American Indian–have paid for our urban green space to rest, to enjoy our small slices of nature, to lose ourselves in play. The Coalition believes that no private organization should take away our public lands for its own use.
The Obama Presidential Center can be the economic fulcrum for any of a host of neighborhoods, where it can spur deep and long-lasting economic, social, and political change. It should be placed where it will do the most good for the most people: Roseland, the heart of Woodlawn, Englewood, South Chicago, the US Steel South Works site. In the center of some of the most deprived and powerless places, the OPC can bring power and economic benefit; civic engagement and voter strength; a sense of history and a belief in a future.
The University of Chicago and a small cadre of extremely wealthy people seek to prevent the location of the OPC where it will do the most good for the most people, and take public park land away from the tens of thousands of South Side residents who use Jackson Park every year. Together with the high-priced golf course and privately-endowed music pavilion, they plan to take more than 60% of Jackson Park and South Shore Park’s acreage.
We need to spur growth, change, and political power where it’s most needed. The South Side neighborhoods have been waiting for this for decades. The South Side neighborhoods need it. A park doesn’t need it. Keep our public parks for the public.