Park District Approves Emanuel's Obama Library Land Transfer Plan

By Chuck Sudo in News on Feb 12, 2015 5:40PM

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Jackson Park Harbor (Photo credit: Photo credit: Leslie Adkins)

The Chicago Park District did nothing to rock the proverbial boat and backed Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to transfer over 20 acres of parkland to the University of Chicago if the university wins its bid for the Obama Presidential Library.

The unanimous vote by the Park District’s board at the Jesse White Community Center on the Near North Side was met with praise by the Barack Obama Foundation, which said it improves the chances U of C’s bid.

“The Foundation welcomes the action of the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners, which improves Chicago’s bids for the Obama Presidential Center,” a statement said. “We appreciate the City of Chicago’s efforts to develop a competitive and robust proposal and the engagement of the community and City Council in an open dialogue about the potential of a future Center.”

Emanuel also thanked the board for doing his bidding for its vote and said he remains “committed to moving heaven and earth to ensure that the Obama Presidential Library makes its home on Chicago’s South or West side, not on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.”

“As the city where President Obama started his career in public service and raised his family, Chicago is united in its effort to welcome the president’s legacy and the foundation of his future civic initiatives. Today’s action by the Park District is another step toward ensuring we’ve met the president’s request to secure the three finalist sites.”

“Anywhere but New York” apparently is the angle Emanuel is taking to land the library and that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the “Anyone but Rahm” contingent. The group Friends of the Parks said it will weigh all its options to prevent parkland from being used as part of the university’s bid, including legal action. But Emanuel has public support on his side and the land transfer will not happen unless U of C wins the bidding.

Additionally, Park District Vice President Avis LaVelle said she can’t remember the last time something was parsed so thoroughly. LaVelle told the crowd at Wednesday’s meeting there were more than eight hours of public testimony.

Eight hours? Really?

[Sun-Times, Tribune]