January 23, 2015

Mayor Emanuel will attempt transfer of park land to city

Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced an ordinance on Wednesday to transfer 20 acres of land from the park district to the city in case the University of Chicago is selected to host the Obama Presidential Library, according to the Chicago Tribune

This news comes in the midst of uncertainty on the part of the Obama Foundation concerning the University’s bid for the library. The University’s plans center around a location in either Jackson Park or Washington Park, on property that is currently owned by the Chicago Park District, an entity outside of city control. The ordinance was introduced in response to these concerns and to the broad support expressed in two community meetings held last week, each of which drew hundreds of people.

The plan has encountered protests by community organizations that advocate for preserving parkland, such as Friends of the Parks. In response, the mayor plans to make up for lost park space by consulting community leaders on the best locations on which to create green space elsewhere. Additionally, the actual building component of the library is expected to occupy no more than five acres. The University has not specified what would be done with the rest of the property.

Under Emanuel’s plan, the land would be transferred in exchange for $1. The City Council is expected to pass the ordinance without a fight, though it likely will not vote on it until after the February 24 city elections. The Park District will consider the proposal at its meeting on February 11.