Obama Wants His Private Presidential Center on Public Land—and Mainstream Media Is Looking the Other Way

Yves here. Pretty much everyone hated Trump for being greedy and having no taste but Obama is no better. He barely had a foot out of the White House when he and Michelle cashed in with a record-setting joint book deal. The estate in Cape Cod is sterile. And then destroying an important and well loved public park for a monument to ego?

By Leonard C. Goodman, a Chicago criminal defense attorney and co-owner of the newly independent Reader. Produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute

Chicagoans mostly support the Obamas’ decision to build the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) on the south side of Chicago. But few of us are aware of the controversy over the Obamas’ decision to site their private center on historic public parkland on the shores of Lake Michigan, as these important issues have not been widely covered in the mainstream press, including in any of Chicago’s major newspapers.

Initially the Obama Foundation considered several potential sites for the OPC. These sites were evaluated based on certain factors, including accessibility, enhancements to the physical environment, and potential for economic development. The site receiving the highest score was a site near Washington Park, just west of the University of Chicago campus, which the university described in its literature as pairing “the greatest need with the greatest opportunity.”

Nevertheless, in 2016, the foundation decided to build on 19.3 acres of wooded public parkland in the heart of historic Jackson Park, east of the U of C campus and about a half-mile from the shores of Lake Michigan. The city of Chicago quickly approved the transfer of public parkland to the private foundation, sparking the current controversy. The city gave the Obama Foundation a 99-year lease on the parkland, tax-free, for $10. The OPC is permitted to charge fees for entry, parking, and third-party use, with the profits to go to the Obama Foundation.

The plan for the OPC can be viewed on the Obama Foundation website. It includes the construction of a 235-foot-high “museum tower,” which will rise above all neighboring structures, including the Museum of Science and Industry.

More than a dozen neighborhood groups throughout the south side expressed concerns about the taking of lakefront parkland. Originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1871, and later redeveloped by Olmsted and Daniel Burnham, Jackson Park is on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the most important urban parks in the nation.

In 2018, a nonprofit park advocacy organization called Protect Our Parks (POP) went to federal court to try and stop the “partial destruction of Jackson Park,” which it called a violation of public trust. A group of longtime residents of Hyde Park and South Shore later joined in a new suit with POP, which does not seek to thwart the center from being built, but wants to see it built a mile and a half to the west, on vacant land adjacent to Washington Park. The plaintiffs have pointed to an alternate site plan for the OPC authored by Chicago architect (and Bronzeville resident) Grahm Balkany that can be previewed at the POP website.

A comparison of the two proposed plans shows that the Washington Park site has distinct advantages over the Jackson Park site.

First, while the Jackson Park plan requires the privatization of about 20 acres of public parkland, the Washington Park plan requires no private taking of public green space. Rather, the latter plan proposes building the center on vacant land available for purchase on the west side of Washington Park. In Balkany’s plan, public parkland for south-siders to enjoy would be enlarged rather than reduced.

As Jamie Kalven, award-winning journalist and plaintiff in the POP lawsuit, expressed in a recent Tribune editorial, the privatization of public parkland sets a dangerous precedent. “In view of Chicago’s history of rapacious real estate exploitation, it’s nothing short of miraculous that the glorious archipelago of Frederick Law Olmsted parks—Washington and Jackson parks, linked by the Midway Plaisance—has been preserved. At least until now.”

Another plaintiff in the lawsuit is Dr. W.J.T. Mitchell, U of C professor, author, and landscape historian. He explains that Olmsted’s vision was for these public parks to be democratic spaces, without gates, open to all visitors. Mitchell believes the taking of parkland for private use is contrary to Olmsted’s plan.

Another plaintiff, Bren Sheriff, who has lived for nearly 50 years in the South Shore neighborhood near Jackson Park, told me that the center was initially marketed as a presidential library. But after obtaining the lease to build in Jackson Park, the foundation changed course and decided to build a private entity with no official connection to the National Archives. According to Sheriff, many south-siders have been misled into believing that the POP lawsuit is an attempt by white people to stop President Obama from building his presidential library.

Second, construction of the OPC in the wooded parkland of Jackson Park will require the destruction of hundreds of mature, carbon-sequestering trees, contributing to the existential problem of global climate change. Mitchell believes more than a thousand trees will ultimately be destroyed in and around the park, many of which are more than 100 years old. The alternative plan near Washington Park does not require destruction of any mature trees, according to Balkany. Another environmental concern is that the placement of a 20-story tower so close to the lake will endanger migratory birds that fly north and south close to the western edge of Lake Michigan. The Washington Park site is farther west and is believed to pose less risk to migrating birds.

Third, the Jackson Park site is not easily accessed by public transportation, meaning that visitors would mostly come by vehicle. In contrast, the Washington Park site is situated right on the CTA Green Line. Further, the Jackson Park plan calls for the closing of two major roads—Cornell Drive and the southern half of the historic Midway Plaisance—necessitating a rerouting of traffic and the widening of Lake Shore Drive and Stony Island Avenue. The Washington Park plan does not call for any major road closures or traffic disruptions.

Fourth, the Obama Foundation has promised to bring economic development to the south side. Sheriff believes this is a pipe dream if the center is built in Jackson Park. The park is surrounded by the university, the Museum of Science and Industry, two high schools, and private homes. “Where is the economic development going to come from?” On the other hand, the Washington Park site is adjacent to many commercial businesses—especially along Garfield Boulevard—that stand to benefit from the OPC.

None of these factors favoring the Washington Park site seem to be seriously disputed. Rather, as Kalven wrote in his Tribune editorial: “The Obama Foundation has declined every invitation to engage the issue of ‘feasible and prudent alternatives’ and has instead mounted a marketing campaign, the central theme of which is that the Jackson Park site is a fait accompli.”

I reached out to the Obama Foundation for comment and was invited to email my questions, which I did, inquiring why the Jackson Park site was selected over the alternative site west of Washington Park; and whether the community has been allowed to weigh in on the controversy over the sites. The Foundation responded that it was “unable to accommodate [my] request at this time.”

Mitchell told me that he attended a town hall meeting in 2017 at Hyde Park Academy High School where residents were invited to come to the microphone and ask questions about the OPC. But when residents started raising objections to the plan to build in Jackson Park, the open portion of the meeting was ended, and residents were directed to voice their concerns in small breakout groups. The city never again allowed open-mike questions at meetings regarding the OPC.

Mitchell explained his motivation for joining the lawsuit against locating the OPC in Jackson Park: “I want to save the Obamas from their own bad decision.” Besides being a historic landmark, Jackson Park offers a precarious footing to support a 235-foot tower. The plan is to build the tower on the edge of the West Lagoon that is directly connected to the rising waters of Lake Michigan, which pose serious logistical issues in construction and future usage. “I am afraid it will be a disaster for the Obamas and for the city.”

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  1. Quentin

    There’s a rumour going around that when Varret was asked to comment on criticism of the Obamas’ allegedly bland taste in interior design that ‘Some people just don’t like change’. Evidently she passed the buck on ‘hope’.

  2. Geo

    “Jackson Park offers a precarious footing to support a 235-foot tower. The plan is to build the tower on the edge of the West Lagoon that is directly connected to the rising waters of Lake Michigan, which pose serious logistical issues in construction and future usage. ‘I am afraid it will be a disaster for the Obamas and for the city.’”

    A precarious house of cards seems like a fitting tribute to his eight years.

  3. LawnDart

    They keep trying to open this gate, allowing the privatization of public lands, our public parks– this is just part of a larger pattern.

    Too bad the uproar is not as loud as it was when George Lucas tried to pull this stunt, because it’s looking like the Obamber might succeed. It being Chicago, gotta wonder who’s getting paid-off.

    1. tegnost

      The city of Chicago quickly approved the transfer of public parkland to the private foundation, sparking the current controversy. The city gave the Obama Foundation a 99-year lease on the parkland, tax-free, for $10. The OPC is permitted to charge fees for entry, parking, and third-party use, with the profits to go to the Obama Foundation.

      First,never let a public private partnership go to waste
      Second, only pay lip service to climate change,
      Third, do uber a solid and locate away from mass transit (well to be fair obamas base is afraid to ride the bus)
      Fourth, you can’t do something for others if you don’t do for yourself first.

  4. The Rev Kev

    So I was looking over the Obama Presidential Center site and I note that not only are they asking the public to kick in money to get this hideous thing built, but that they are currently seeking artifacts for potential display at the Museum. I ask you. What could that possibly include? The walls plastered with eviction notices? A CBU-87/89 cluster bomb? Several barrels of fracked oil with them bearing his signature phrase here ‘I did that!’ A glass of Flint water? The badly translated Russian reset button? A police MRAP? Of course it would not be complete without the final display for his accomplishments – a portrait of Donald J. Trump. No – scratch that. A Dorian Gray portrait of Joe Biden.

    But that does not answer the question of why Obama is building it on common park-land instead of a site that would make far more sense. I am going with two probable reasons. One, because it suits his psychology. He has displayed a noted tendency to put the boot into people when they are down low. I think that to him, people are just objects. And razing 20 acres of park-lands would suit him just fine. The second is the fact that it is Jackson Park. Anybody got an idea of what 551.5 acres of land would be worth on Chicago’s coastline in terms of real estate? Now that about 4% of it has been salami-sliced off for Obama, a precedent may have been set for developers in Chicago honing in on other parts of the park that can be sliced off for themselves.

    And if people think that just anybody can go visit the Obama Presidential Center when it is finished, then I have news for you and it is all bad. The only poorer people that you will find there will be janitors, bar staff, security guards and groundskeepers and it will become a building noted for its classist tendencies. Don’t be surprised if that thing does not get a security fence built around it one day.

    1. Nce

      Here’s some more artifacts:
      Obama’s Executive Order #13528 that subverted the Posse Comitatus Act, “modernizing” the Smith-Mundt Act which prohibited domestic propaganda, and let’s not forget his targeted killing program.
      Is there no bottom to how evil and egotistical Obama is? Okay, so maybe it’s more of a structural thing than just a whacked individual, so why not refer to the 1 percent as the Sociopath Class since that’s exactly what they are?

      1. Oh

        I heard that the private school he went to in Honolulu was quite expensive. He behaves like he’s a black american (he’s Kenyan-American), fakes a black accent when he’s with the blacks. pretends to drink Flint, Michigan tap water, hobnobs with rich white folks only, has two homes (the Hawaii one is a beach front home where he was given special exemptions from laws) and he still wants more!

  5. Quentin

    Imagine what the reactions would be if Trump demanded a slice of Central Park for his vanity project. Since his residence is right across the street, what could be a more economic and practical use of NYC public space? Only Fifth Avenue, 59th St. and adjoining facilities would have to be rerouted and retooled. A small price to pay for honoring such greatness.

    The Obamas are a bad joke at this point. Oh, and by the way, don’t forget to send $60.00 to O. as a birthday present, as Valerie Jarrett suggests. Do it today, every year the offer goes up a dollar! At this moment you’re cashing in at rock bottom. And that all these filthy multimillionaires have the gall to solicit birthday presents for the man who has no governance to his name.

    1. doug shaeffer

      that cracked me up, asking for a 6 or 60$ donation for his 12 million dollar mansion birthday party. sadly he had to scale it down ostensibly because of the delta variation, or maybe it was a mortgage party and no one rsvp’d.

  6. Tom Stone

    Long ago I heard an 8 year old remark that “Some people are bigger on the inside than they are on the outside, and some are smaller”..

  7. Arizona Slim

    Here’s the part that really bopped me over the head:

    The Obama Presidential Center is “not easily accessed by public transportation.”

    Gee, I wonder why that might be. Could it be an easy way to keep THOSE people out?

    1. Eye 65

      Take the CTA Green line to Garfield or King Drive, go east. Same neighborhood as University of Chicago. Enjoy the lakefront and Museum Of Science And Industry.

      “THOSE people” – Lace Curtain Irish? – left 75 years ago. Their former gray stone houses are still there.

      1. Bob Michaelson

        Depending on where you’re coming from, there are easier ways, e.g. the #2 bus from Michigan Avenue, although when I was a kid I’d take the Jackson Park B Line (as it was then called) to 63rd and Stony (no longer runs that far) and then walk a bit north to MSI (which had free admission in those days!).

        Still, it is much quicker and easier to take public transportation to the site west of Washington Park – just take the Green Line to Garfield and you are there.

        The larger question is: why does Obama think he is entitled to purpresture, as the lawyers term it? Basically he is a rotten, spoiled kid.

  8. Watt4Bob

    It’s hard to explain how wonderful it was for a kid to travel the 3 or 4 miles from the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side, to Jackson park.

    The vast carpet of the city suddenly opens up to a giant green space adjacent to an inland ocean and you think you’re in eden.

    The Obama’s plan is a tragic desecration of the commons.

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      “… a tragic desecration of the commons.”

      In which case, to echo Lambert, everything’s going according go plan…

      1. Peter

        President Obama always seemed like a nice guy, plays basketball, has a good sense of humor – but then there is the other side – a number of houses, pretty good for a guy making around $400,000 per year for 8 years and then RIGHT after leaving office has 2-3 multimillion-dollar homes – maybe a donation from some friendly banks, whose CEO’s Obama post-2008 crash to go on their way by socializing their losses and avoiding any taxes via clever accounting or worse. For as smart as I am sure he is, he did virtually NOTHING to address the number 1 threat to humanity – Climate Change. He did not know? I guess there was no one he could ask to “educate” him on the complexity and magnitude of the problem? Now this “little thing” of taking away a small pleasure from the poor of Chicago to allow them to enjoy a wee bit of nature. But then again, being so smart he forgot the words he heard many times in church – ” what does it profit a man to gain the world and lose his soul”. Too late. So Sad.

        1. Soredemos

          “President Obama always seemed like a nice guy.”

          Being very charismatic and impressing everyone they meet is one of the hallmarks of a sociopath.

          Now, that word (as well as psychopath) gets thrown around a lot these days, but I really think Obama actually is one (I think Rumsfeld was one as well). I think he’s literally one of that small minority of people whose brain works differently and who doesn’t really feel or understand emotions like most humans, but who is very good at imitating emotion and at manipulating other people.

          He didn’t ‘lose his soul’; he simply never had one to begin with. If you go back and look into his background this is who he has always been. In his early years in Chicago (back when he was doing his much vaunted ‘community organizing’, when he was actually just being a shill for big real estate) he effectively threw his girlfriend Sheila Miyoshi Jager under the bus because he knew his career in Chicago would require him to have a black wife. Everything Obama has ever done was purely for the advancement of Obama™, the product.

          1. Oh

            Back before he ran for election in 2008, the Chicago Tribune had an expose on this grifter that covered his “community organizing” where he helped a real estate moghul in Chicago grab low income housing (which were convieniently condemned). Meanwhile, Michelle got a cushy job at the University of Chicago Medical School. He used Reverend Wright and threw him under the bus when he had served his purpose. He has no principles whatsoever.

  9. William Hunter Duncan

    In a recent Minnpost article here in Minnesota, a former writer from the Star Tribune, Eric Black, wrote an opinion piece mocking Trump because he doesn’t have plans to build a Presidential Library. It was in the tone of “HaHa, look at the chief non-book reading deplorable. See how pathetic he is.” The comments were similarly heartless and pointless. So I stepped in and talked about the Obama Center, which isn’t even a Presidential Library, the seizure of public land in an historic waterfront park, and how if Trump did it they would all have a collective freakout.

    They did have a collective freakout. The commentariat Junta went berserk. How dare you bring up the Obama Center in the context of Trump’s non Presidential library. You thread hijacker! You, you, bothsiderist! This article is about what a POS Trump is and it can not be about ANYTHING ELSE!


    1. doug

      I love at the top masthead ‘Nonprofit, nonpartisan…..’
      Maybe some bridges for sale in the want ads…?

  10. Basil Pesto

    Mitchell explained his motivation for joining the lawsuit against locating the OPC in Jackson Park: “I want to save the Obamas from their own bad decision.”

    poor bastard. he might figure it out one day.

  11. michael hudson

    This is merely the mosts recent Obama rip-off of Chicago’s South Side. In fact, it is not the most serious one.
    I cannot resist drawing your attention to Bob Fitch’s expose of how Obama worked with the U/Chicago and real-estate reverends to gentrify the black neighborhoods by tearing them down — making billions of dollars for the Pritzkers and Crown families, establishing his bona fides for Rubinomics.
    Yves put this on her site years ago. I hope you can still find it here. Worth reading to give a sense of continuity.
    I used to go to Jackson Park and its lagoon in the 1940s. It was beautiful.
    This gives new meaning to “tragedy of the commons.”

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      Obama was/is also a supporter of school privatization and charter schools, which have been particularly destructive in Chicago. As recently-departed journalist and activist Glen Ford said, Obama was “the more effective evil.”

      His mentor and gate-keeper to local elites, Valerie Jarrett, was integral to the destruction of public housing in the city, and the resulting gentrification.

    2. Watt4Bob

      My family’s route to Jackson Park was straight down 67th St. from Racine.

      As I recall, when we got to Jackson Park, we’d turn left and be greeted by the Statue of the Republic, which most called ‘The Golden Lady‘.

      Yes, it was beautiful, impressive, and welcoming to all.

  12. LowellHighlander

    I hear that the Obamas “summer” on Martha’s Vineyard (Yes, they now belong to a class who are allowed to use nouns as verbs, while those of us who didn’t graduate from Ivy Leagues must adhere to all rules, including those of grammar & syntax. Otherwise, we would appear “unschooled”.) Why doesn’t the Obama Foundation propose to build its monstrosity there?

    Of course, building the monstrosity in Jackson Park would be an Excellent metaphor for his presidency: he’s taking public land for his personal use (i.e. adoration to him) and in the process denying poorer people of the inner city a simple, but profound, pleasure from an age when the public space was being revered for its own right. Then, he’s asking other people to pay for it. This is neo-liberalism in action, and that would be a fitting tribute to Obama.

    1. nycTerrierist

      Yup. Even worse — that everyone doesn’t see this!

      ‘A tragic desecration of the commons’ – true tribute.

  13. barefoot charley

    A friend of his said Ozybama wants to desecrate the lakefront with his skyscraping temple “so it can be seen from downtown.” Nobody downtown looks due South, including Ozybama. As if we couldn’t tell.

  14. RML

    Excellent post on what is shaping up to be a disaster in the making. The economic development projections assume attendance of about 700,000 people every year, after the first few years. The highest attendance at any of the presidential libraries (all run by the National Archives) in recent years has been 400,000. The fewer people who come to the OPC, the lower the economic benefit (which is probably exaggerated already).

    There is no mechanism to hold them to account for their neighborhood hiring goals, and there are very few jobs in post-construction (the gift shop, the cafeteria, and…???).

    Oh, and the $10 cited here? It’s the lease amount for the entire 99 years–not every year, but for the entirety of the lease. The 19.2 acres is estimated to have a fair market value of about $1m/acre.

    And their “replacement” parkland for the loss of 19 acres in Jackson Park is…4.2 acres of other (already existing) parkland. Not exactly in the spirit of UPARR, which called for replacement parkland on non-park sites.

    No one is against having it on the South Side–across from Washington Park, or the old Michael Reese site, or South Works–just not in a public park. We can have both–our parks and the OPC. The idea that we have to give something up to get the OPC is incredibly condescending.

  15. doug shaeffer

    i feel grateful for these dissenting voices as i watch the cameras being mounted on the traffic lights and the streets lined with trenches for new pipelines leading to his ghostly white tower. the caution tape alongside 60th street reads caution—colony hardware, then i see a box marked underground products next to a big hole with a chugging water pump at the bottom. while we still ask can he really do this—like enbridge, he’s doing it—hope and change don’t wait on the common folk to organize.

  16. Oscar Wilder

    As someone who lives a few steps from the proposed site of this disaster, let me tell you a few things. Some have already been mentioned, some have not.

    1) The pitch was a Presidential LIBRARY with all documents of value located on site. Presidential libraries attract scholars and researchers from across the world.

    2) The word on the street is U Of C proposed the Jackson Park site and lobbied Obama to choose it. People say U of C likes the site and the closing of Cornell drive, which provides access to the the area for the working class neighborhoods to the south.

    3) Even though the University of Chicago apparently (I don’t know for a fact) owns most or all the land at the proposed site just west of Washington Park, the University thought it appropriate to VOLUNTEER the people’s land at Jackson Park at the University’s east end. Apparently, the university believes in the public giving its land to a private entity but hasn’t made a peep about giving up its own land for the project.

    4) The University of Chicago has an $8.6 Billion dollar endowment.

    5) The land lease was rammed through, yes $10 for all 99 years.

    6) Then Obama announced he’d changed his mind and the site would no longer be a Presidential Library (OPL). No documents would be stored or accessible on site. Instead, he will build a center (OPC) and scan the documents. We are to use terminals in the center to view the documents. BUT – wait for it – you can also view those documents from your own home computer. In a gesture of, oops sorry, the site will house a Chicago Public Library branch (last I heard).

    7. The surrounding neighborhoods have been pushing for a community benefits agreement. Obama says, with who would I sign it?? Ignoring the fact that his foundation could guarantee in writing that most employees would come from surrounding neighborhood, a percentage of construction employees would e neighborhood residents, neighborhood residents could have discounted or free admission, etc – things like this. But instead they are playing dumb.

    8. The lack of straightforwardness caused a backlash against the OPC and people started openly voicing their opposition. This was major because, back then in this neighborhood, you just couldn’t say anything even remotely critical of Obama. As another commenter mentioned, they stopped taking public comments at meetings and instead opted to collect questions from meeting attendees and decided which questions they felt they should answer. When neighborhood residents began creating signs against the OPC, pro OPC signs were mass produced and disseminated. The OPC began personally inviting residents to their office on 53rd to talk.

    9. A website was created by two pro OPC white women. Instead of putting their own faces on the website they put pictures of young black kids playing outside. This has absolutely been framed as “the white people are trying to stop his library”. In my experience, it’s the exact opposite.

    10. They started cutting down trees one day before they even had cleared all court opposition and had to stop.

    11. The suggestion that the OPC is going to benefit the surrounding neighborhood is doubtful. They keep saying a world class museum will bring people to the south but there is already a world class museum in that park. It’s called the Museum of Science and Industry. I have literally never seen people wander through the neighborhood after visiting MSI.

    12. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, the city is practically broke, we have a high school drop out rate I don’t even want to type, people are only calm because of the eviction moratorium but the city is going to spend AT LEAST $200M on street work for this? Just because Obama doesn’t like the Washington Park Site?? The Washington Park site where no trees have to be killed, where the U of C already owns the land, where the neighborhood could actually use a boost. Where most of the land is actually vacant.

    13. They have to make MAJOR road changes to accommodate the plan.

    14. it will decrease park land access in an urban area. Access to nature spaces is a quality of life issue.

    15. If you talk to most people who are for it, they don’t even know it’s no longer a presidential library. The switch was made quietly.

    16. The PGA heard we were giving away free parkland and offered to build a “PGA level” golf course where the oldest public golf course is now, at the south end of Jackson Park. Tiger Woods even offered to design it, until backlash. Because the PGA could not guarantee the fees wouldn’t go up, in fact they said they probably would. Oh, and it might be private. Thankfully, I THINK that plan is off the table.

    17. The number value I’ve heard in the land leased for $10 is not $1M per acre. That would be a steal. I have heard that land is valued at $1B but I’ve also heard $500M, who knows?

    It’s just selfishness on his part IMO and has completely destroyed my past esteem for him.

    1. Basil Pesto

      Thanks for this detailed and well laid out post

      re: 16., there is someone better placed to comment on the details than I am, and I don’t want to step on their toes/speak on their behalf. Suffice it to say there are modern models for municipal golf construction/renovation in America that both dramatically improve the quality of the existing course and better serve their respective communities (and don’t drastically increase green fees) than the ultra-expensive TW proposal to rebuild the Jackson Park gc (and his was not the only proposal on the table, I believe). As you say though, any plans for the improvement of the Jackson Park golf course do seem to be on the backburner.

      1. KLG

        Public golf in this country is very hit or miss. Some communities have public/daily fee courses that are affordable and well run, either by the local recreation/parks department or private owner(s). Lexington (KY) comes to mind, with its four, very good public courses, but in my experience this is rare. My current place of residence has one public golf course where you probably couldn’t convince a starving goat to eat the grass. Bethpage State Park on Long Island is another good example, where the Black Course there hosts the US Open. Despite protestations to the contrary, none of the major golf organizations in this country gives a rat’s ass about public golf. Not the PGA of America (sponsor of the Ryder Cup but mostly golf professionals who run golf courses, and who are royally abused by their erstwhile “leadership”), not the separate PGA Tour which makes professional golfers total rich, and not the United States Golf Association of Far Hills, NJ. However, the USGA likes to pat itself on the back for taking the US Open to “public” golf courses such as Pebble Beach (last I looked $500 per round) and Pinehurst ($495). Of course, no amount of money will get you in the gate at Winged Foot, Olympic, Merion, Oak Hill, Shinnecock Hills, or Oakmont…so there is that, I reckon.

        The Tiger Woods-Jackson Park thing is dead for good and sufficient reason, I think: Expensive, exclusive, unnecessary, plus for a long while after his bout with the fire hydrant Thanksgiving Weekend of 2009, Mr. Woods himself was fairly toxic. That doesn’t mean Jackson Park could not be renovated and maintained as a golf haven for locals, just as it is now. I have a friend who got his PhD at Chicago while maintaining his sanity with regular visits to the Jackson Park golf course. But that might also mean visitors would get hosed, as they do at Harding Park and Torrey Pines (each a Major Championship venue) in San Francisco and San Diego, respectively. Both courses were “renovated” for obscene amounts of money, thus necessitating the very steep two-tier green fee structure. Last I looked, I could play at either for considerably more than $200. No, thanks.

        Anyway, does the artist’s conception of the Barack Obama erection planned for Jackson Park look like a hideous, neo-Brutalist eyesore to anyone else?

        1. Basil Pesto

          Yup. There’s also Chambers Bay in Washington ($270 for visitors, $140 for locals – Torrey Pines is better value for SD residents, but Torrey Pines is lame – imo of course). I think there was a lot of concern that the TW plan for Jackson Park would lead to this two-tier pricing scheme, and that the local rates would be bumped up to something considerably higher than they are now – which they probably would’ve been, given the mooted cost.

          The more community-friendly examples of recent muni renovations that I had in mind were Audubon Park gc in New Orleans, Memorial Park in Houston and Winter Park in Orlando (which I’ve played and which is very cheap and fun, albeit in a fairly tony suburb).

    2. 60637

      Hi! It’s me from one of those working class neighborhoods to the south.

      Are you one of my neighbors? I’d love to commiserate on the NON STOP contact we are receiving from the OPC on an hourly basis.

      I no longer want that info as I already took the bridge class to begin a new CAREER. For the first time in my life I’ll have benefits. I’m very excited. Beyond excited. I cannot explain it. The OPC provided the info, facilitated the access and I and the other women in my class are ready to begin jobs in the trades. Next month I begin a PAID apprenticeship. It’s hard for me to believe that I’m capable but I feel good about myself for doing well on the placement test. I want to try.

      I assume you don’t need these opportunities so the fact that they exist are of no interest to you. Let me guess…you got dental insurance.

      This phrase keeps popping up “I live steps away”. Where? How many steps? Lol. Do you reside in a cherry blossom outside of the Japanese garden? I live pretty damn close but wouldn’t try to present it as “steps”.

      Y’all really don’t want anyone to have anything. Don’t start with me about the use of the park. We use it. And enjoy it until someone pulls their penis out and walks toward me (two different times). You know who doesn’t use it? Almost all of my neighbors.

      You all cannot find anyway to see your desire to have even more quality of life by knowing you see olmstead’s vision as taking away a chance I have at independence. “What does it profit a man” indeed.

      1. Lambert Strether

        I’m happy for you. A fine example of how a very small expenditure can produce outsized public relations results in a successful assault against a public good for one man’s personal aggrandizement. I’m glad you played the game, played since time immemorial, successfully.

        Sorry about the penis-waving incident. Do you feel the entire park should be turned into a golf course?

        1. 60637

          I don’t see taking care of my kids (5 and 2) as a public relations stunt. I don’t have the fortune of seeing it that way. I don’t hold it against you that you can.

          The game would be fooling myself into believing Wadsworth is a good option for them. That they could ignore the violence and feel happy and well adjusted at school everyday.

          I don’t have an interest in golf and wouldn’t use a golf course. I do walk along the path in the morning of the public course with friends. Time after time to be embarrassed by our private conversation when we pop out by that garden and realize golfers can hear us. Would I be disappointed if this weren’t available? Sure. But I can’t value my enjoyment of seeing the looks on the golfers’ faces over what could amount to someone having access to quality of life at all.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Did you play the game? Or did the game play you?

            I don’t live in Chicago. But if I did, and I realize that you don’t care about the interest of the several million other people who live in Chicago at-large in general, I would work with those several million people in not caring about you right back, given that you support stealing from the several million other Chicagoans in order to give their public property to a private rich millionaire named Barak Obama.

  17. Darius

    I’m sure the prestige of the lakeshore Jackson Park site is just too irresistible for an egoist like Obama. It makes his monument a real Chicago landmark with a magnificent view. That Washington Park site is more than a mile inland in the middle of a nondescript neighborhood. Accessible to public transportation. Ewww.

  18. Charlotte Adelman

    Len Goodman’s article is extremely useful. Information about this travesty is hard to find.
    However, as revealed in Len’s piece, many people are unaware of the significant fact that I, Charlotte Adelman, was an original plaintiff in the first case which was filed in 2018. In fact, filing a federal case to stop construction of the private OPC in a public park (Jackson Park) was my idea. In furtherance of
    my idea, in 2018, I invited Herb Caplan, who, like me, is a University of Chicago Law School graduate and retired attorney, to join me in filing that first case. Herb agreed. We both hired and paid a law firm to represent us. Then Herb remembered his defunct not-for-profit, Protect Our Parks. In order for an organization to be a plaintiff in the case, I agreed Herb should resurrect POP from oblivion. Due to events I will not go into here and our culture’s lingering misogyny, a concerted effort soon commenced to erase my name as a plaintiff in the case. As indicated by Len’s failure to name me as an original plaintiff in his article, this effort somewhat succeeded. However, the public can verify the truth by accessing the web. There the court records, including the original complaint, show my name as a plaintiff. Further, early articles show reporters interviewing me as a plaintiff on that first case. When Len learned I was an original plaintiff, he graciously modified his article to correct the mistake. Evidently, Len did this too late to reach your deadline. However, everyone can access Len’s article in its current corrected state on the web. Despite the heart ache I’ve experienced, I know, as will anyone who checks the web for the court records and/or early Chicago newspaper accounts of the original case, including The Reader, the truth is I am an original plaintiff of the original case. Importantly, for me, I know that, but for me, no law suit to stop the private OPC from being constructed in the public Jackson Park would have been filed. Thank you. Charlotte Adelman, Retired Attorney, Environmentalist, Author. (See: “The Midwestern Native Garden” and “Midwestern Native Shrubs and Trees,” and “Prairie Directory of North America” – First and Second editions).

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