Jackson Park Watch (JPW), a community rights organization founded by Hyde Park residents, has been granted nonprofit status by the state of Illinois.
Founded in January of 2016, JPW aims to update Chicago residents about new and ongoing projects involving Jackson Park. JPW launched in response to local concerns over Project 120 Chicago, a nonprofit organization that promotes construction and development projects involving Washington Park, Jackson Park, and Midway Plaisance Park. After its founding, JPW initially focused on the Phoenix Pavilion and Music Court, an activity center proposed by Project 120 and modeled after the original Japanese pavilion from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.
Becoming a non-profit organization allows JPW to collect tax-deductible donations to fund future projects. “The main reason we wanted this was for fundraising and to recruit expertise to help us,” Co-President Brenda Nelms said.
JPW is also addressing the construction of the Obama Presidential Center (OPC), which is set to open in Jackson Park in 2021. According to Nelms, the OPC’s development has raised questions among residents in the community, especially about increased future traffic and disruptions caused by an influx of tourists.
For the most part, the Obama Foundation, which is overseeing the project, has not gone into specific detail about the OPC’s construction timeline. JPW has asked for a comprehensive plan of the OPC’s development and additional engagement with the local community to clear up residents’ concerns about the process.
When JPW receives community comments about upcoming projects, it meets with the project’s organizers, state representatives, and other organizations to ensure the community’s concerns are addressed. With additional donations to recruit more experts, JPW will be able to work more efficiently and potentially see better results, Nelms said.