January 30, 2015

Univ. not interested in buying more land for Obama library

Amid concerns regarding the University’s proposed sites for the Barack Obama presidential library, the University has passed on the opportunity to buy more land in Washington Park.

The University is pursuing two possible sites in its bid for the Obama presidential library near Washington and Jackson Parks. The University originally proposed a third site near the South Shore Cultural Center but dropped it after controversies over its lakefront location.

According to DNAInfo, the University has had the opportunity to purchase four and a half acres of available land in Washington Park but has not pursued that opportunity. The University has said it wants to use at least 20 acres for the Obama presidential library to present a competitive bid, which is why it proposed building on the park land.

Derek Douglas, the Vice President for Civic Engagement at the University, declined to comment for this article, but University spokesperson Jeremy Manier said the University does not plan on buying more land for its bid.

“Other privately held land is not included,” he said. “If the Washington Park site is chosen and the Foundation wishes to use land outside the park, we would be available to work with the Foundation and the local community, including private landowners, to formulate a plan,” Manier said.

Columbia University and the University of Illinois at Chicago’s bids are also under review by the Obama Library Foundation. President Obama and the First Lady will announce their final decision by the end of March.