University group announces opposition to Obama Center

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.

The Obama Foundation submitted its planned development and lakefront protection ordinance applications for the Obama Presidential Center on Wednesday, but the plan still faces some opposition. Museum and library buildings will be joined by a space called the "Forum", where, according to the former USA president, "anybody can come together for some local programming, or to gather for larger-scale events in an auditorium, maybe record something in a broadcast studio, or just have a bite to eat".

"A$3 s we've said before", wrote the Foundation, "the Obama Presidential Center will be an open, inclusive campus that integrates directly into Jackson Park"-a beloved historic park, whose reallocation for private development has drawn anger from the community the Foundation claims it intends to serve". "We urge the Obama Foundation to explore alternative sites on the South Side that could be developed with more economic benefits, better public transportation, and less cost to taxpayers".

Obama Presidential Center
Obama Center Going as Poorly as the Rest of Obama's Legacy

Brenda Nelmes, co-founder of Jackson Park Watch, told Curbed Chicago in a previous story, that the community had questioned if the inclusion of parking garage was truly "forward thinking". Construction of a permanent architectural monument violates Olmsted's vision of a democratic urban park.

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". They have to date rejected many pleas of neighborhood groups to place the garage underground. Parking is expensive, and though public lands are being given away, all the profits from this parking lot will go to the Obama Foundation. That's the most vital aspect of the Obama Presidential Center - creating spaces for people to connect and collaborate, to take home a piece of what you've learned together. Finally, it is the taxpayers of Chicago who are going to be forced to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for this project, according to estimates by the Chicago Department of Transportation.

We're sure the new 3D renderings for the park - released Wednesday - will only throw fuel on that fire.

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