October 7, 2023

Dear friend of the parks,

We hope you’ll sign up ASAP for next Saturday’s “Walk with FOTP in 2023” in Jackson Park.

We’ll meet in front of the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) at 10 am for a bit of history and context of the site, from its legacy as the only building left from the World's Columbian Exposition to its future positioning as part of a south side museum campus including the Obama Presidential Center.

When we visited recently with MSI president, Chevy Humphrey, a number of the issues in the article below came up. We’ll walk around to the Columbia Basin side of the building to get a close-up look at the concerns and opportunities from the point of view of the back steps of the museum.

And then we’ll walk together to the Garden of the Phoenix.

Is Jackson Park ready for its future? - Hyde Park Herald

“The Chicago Department of Planning and Development estimates that some 700,000 people will visit the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) each year after its completion in 2025. In anticipation of this influx, a flurry of roadwork facility repairs in and around Jackson Park is underway to ease the integration of the OPC campus into the park.

City officials and park advocates alike anticipate that many of the thousands of visitors ascending the 235-foot presidential library tower will be prompted by the views to head to the lakeshore or the nearby Wooded Island.

But the future of two sites closest to the campus, The Clarence Darrow Memorial Bridge, a would-be linchpin of foot traffic flow from the OPC to the lake, and the Japanese garden on Wooded Island, remains in question. 

The natural flow of pedestrian and bicycle traffic across the northern part of Jackson Park has been for the past decade restricted by the closure of the Darrow Bridge (officially known as the Columbia Bridge). Deamed structurally unsafe by the city and closed in 2013, the bridge connects the western and eastern sides of the park by spanning the waterway flowing between the Columbia Basin to the north and the park’s lagoons to the south. 

Without access to the bridge, these thousands of OPC visitors wishing to walk to the lake would either take the Lagoon Path, an undeveloped pathway along the north side of the Columbia Basin across the Museum of Science and Industry south portico terrace, or walk south to 63rd Street beach.”

Read the complete article at Hyde Park Herald.

Of course, we anticipate enjoying the beautiful colors of changing leaves in this context where saving the trees also has been a big issue. 

Below is a recent update on the potential PGA golf course which has been at the center of the controversies around saving the trees and the South Shore Nature Sanctuary. 

The message that there are no current plans for it to move forward as such aligns with what Friends of the Parks has heard from the Chicago Park District in our conversations with them. But they, like we and various voices in this article, have agreed that the golf courses could use some kind of investment.

Plans for Tiger Woods golf project near Obama Presidential Center have stalled, but hopes remain for restoration of existing courses - Chicago Tribune

“In 2016, then-Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans for a new PGA-caliber golf course next to the planned presidential library. The proposal was backed by the clout of the former president and golf superstar Tiger Woods, whom Obama asked to design the course.

Nearly seven years later, the plan to combine and rebuild Jackson Park and South Shore golf courses appears to have ground to a halt, with little governmental involvement and almost no money…

The Chicago Parks Golf Alliance, a tax-exempt not-for-profit led by local attorney Brian Hogan and NBC Sports commentator Mark Rolfing, and backed by course developer Mike Keiser, which spearheaded the project, declined to comment. Its website is down, and its last Facebook update was from more than three years ago.

The group was tasked with raising private donations for the originally estimated $30 million cost of the upgrade. Its most recent publicly available IRS filing showed annual fundraising had dried up to less than $50,000 in gross receipts. The group previously had raised more than $1.2 million, but after expenditures including professional and management fees, by 2021, only about $350,000 remained.”

Read the complete article at Chicago Tribune.

Join us for a closer look and to learn more about the many things we need to keep our eyes on in Jackson Park, beyond the obvious.

Click here to RSVP today!

In solidarity,

Juanita Irizarry

Executive Director

Matching Grant Challenge

Thank you for walking alongside FOTP and friends of the parks all across the city.

Friends of the Parks
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