Plans for the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park are being firmed up largely out of public view, and one watchdog group is sounding the alarm about the lack of transparency.
Decisions on the design of the center, the park’s golf course and even whether to eliminate some roads in the park are being worked out by the Obama Foundation, City Hall and the Chicago Park District.
Jackson Park Watch has sent a letter to City Hall outlining their concerns.
“What groups have the Park District, the Chicago Department of Transportation, and the Obama Foundation been meeting with? How were they selected? How representative are they? And what data have they been given to review? Where is the open, public process that is appropriate for consideration of changes to public parks?” Brenda Nelms and Margaret Schmid, coordinators for Jackson Park Watch, wrote in an Aug. 8 letter to Deputy Mayor Andrea Zopp, who is overseeing the massive developments.
There have been four community meetings in June and July — with more to come — but that’s not the whole story on what’s going behind the scenes. The public will learn some details about proposed street changes Wednesday and Thursday when the Chicago Department of Transportation hosts open houses at the South Shore Cultural Center, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. both days.
The Park District also will have meetings at the cultural center, on Sept. 21 and Sept. 25, to gather input.