Obama Foundation to host public meeting for Presidential Center plan

Obama Foundation

The Obama Foundation has announced that it will host a public meeting to discuss plans for the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park and to receive feedback from residents in attendance. According to the organization, the meeting will be held on Thursday, September 14 at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place starting at 5:00 p.m.

A number of key Obama Foundation leaders and designers behind the planned Obama Presidential Center will participate in the public forum, including Michael Strautmanis, the foundation’s Vice President of Civic Engagement, Museum Director Louise Bernard, as well as lead architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien and lead landscape designer Michael Van Valkenburgh.

The public meeting comes after continued frustration surrounding the planning of the presidential museum and library campus, specifically the closed-door nature of previous discussions and events. Last week, the Chicago Sun-Times published an editorial by reporter John Vukmirovich who compares the planning for the Obama Presidential Center to the fictional narrative from the film Chinatown.

“For the past year or so, I have been fretting over the placement of the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park, and what that might mean for the taxpayers, regarding not only the “add-ons” that have been made public, but also regarding the fundamental issue at the heart of that project: the turning over of a considerable section of public land to the control of a private concern,” Vukmirovich writes for the Sun-Times. “It’s a done deal and has been for some time, and the now-rising demand for information on the part of community groups and the Sun-Times is just a lot of shrugging, sighing and snorting.”

Obama Foundation

Indeed, concerns over the nature of the planning and the deal with the city have been ongoing since the Obamas selected Chicago for their library and museum campus. Last month, the Obama Foundation announced that the organization would be paying to build its own parking garage for the Obama Presidential Center. The move means that the Obama Foundation will be seeking three to four more public land for the campus project.

However, there are still questions surrounding other logistics like traffic, the removal of hundreds of trees, and the final design for the buildings on the campus.

“As for the more recent news about the Obama Foundation offering to pay for the building of an above-ground parking garage on city land on Midway Plaisance, will the Foundation pay the city for that land, and if so, at what price?” Vukmirovich asks in his recent Sun-Times editorial. “Or, is this another example of a public land giveaway, and are more such giveaways on the horizon?”


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