Park District Applies for New Track and Field in Jackson Park

The proposal is a replacement for a track that will be relocated due to the Obama Presidential Center.

By Jason Lalljee

The Chicago Park District submitted an application to establish a new track and field facility in Jackson Park on Wednesday.

The Park District said in a statement that it is “necessary to replace the current track and field that will be relocated as part of the establishment of the Obama Presidential Center within another area of Jackson Park.”

The Chicago Park District’s plan for the new facility involves a multi-use field encircled by a new running track. The new track and field are being considered under the Lake Michigan and Chicago Lakefront Protection Ordinance, which requires a review and public hearings on projects in proximity of Chicago’s Lake Michigan shoreline.

The Obama Foundation also submitted an application to the City for the Presidential Center in Jackson Park on Wednesday.

The Chicago Park District held its own public hearing last month, where representatives proposed three different plans to potentially redevelop Jackson Park and the South Shore Cultural Center. These plans are a part of the Chicago Park District’s updates to the South Lakefront Framework Plan, which was originally designed in 1999 and will be implemented over the next decade.

The South Lakefront Framework Plan is concerned specifically with Jackson Park, Washington Park, and the South Shore Cultural Center. According to the Chicago Park District, the plan is a way to “enhance… [the parks’] commitments to serving the neighboring communities and preserve the intended historic character.”

At the hearing, the Park District presented its three scenarios, named “coastline,” “meadows,” and “lagoon.”

The coastline option would displace many of the recreational activities closer to the lakefront. The lagoon option would disperse those activities throughout the park, while the bodies of water would widen. The meadows option would focus on meadows and green space activities.

All three plans account for the track and field facility currently located at South Stony Island to be pushed further south to accommodate the presidential center. The facility would also be expanded to include football and soccer fields.

For months, officials have been hosting public hearings to decide on how to best update Jackson Park and the cultural center. Residents at the hearing on Thursday voted on the three presented plans. According to officials, their votes will be counted and considered.

Park District officials said in a statement Wednesday that the proposed site for the track is located north of 63rd Street and East of Stony Island Avenue, land currently occupied by a senior baseball and junior baseball field.