Save Jackson Park Nature Reserves

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I'm writing because I am deeply concerned about the future of Jackson Park nature reserves with regard to the expansion and blending of the Jackson Park golf course with that of the South Shore Cultural Center and the intention to bring PGA level tournaments to Chicago. In addition, I am concerned about the impact that the Obama Presidential Center will have on the surrounding community with regard to proposed traffic patterns and parking.

First, the plans for the golf course are troubling because the proposed expansion will mean the destruction of established and mature nature areas. This is senseless and problematic on many levels. The City has already spent millions on these areas which have promoted and sustained area wildlife such as beavers, herons, Monarch butterflies and countless species of migrating birds which use the area for rest and food as well as others that now call this area home. It would be a tragedy to see these nature reserves and established ecosystems in Jackson Park uprooted for a golf course which would benefit a select few--those who are unlikely to be area residents but who can afford to pay the green fees. What a privilege to look up from your tee on the 12th hole to see the beauty of Chicago lakefront skyscrapers.

As for the OPC and the impending debacle of traffic and parking, I can only say that I would have hoped for a more inviting aesthetic for the building and location of it as a whole. Planners should be aware of the congestion and confusion this will bring to Stony Island Avenue--the site of Bret Harte Elementary School, University of Chicago Early Childhood Center, the YMCA, and Hyde Park High School making dismissal times more chaotic than they already are. Will closing Cornell and adding lanes to Lake Shore Drive really create more green space, or take it away? Where is the transparency? What will these plans mean in terms of cost to taxpayers? Why the rush to approve the plans by October?

I am begging those in charge of the parks, our civic leaders, and other decision makers to place these plans on hold until there is substantial community input with regard to timelines, budget and especially protections in place for the nature reserves in Jackson Park. These areas are important to the surrounding community and it is unconscionable for any “improvements” to be implemented without community input. I as well as many others will miss the opportunity to use Jackson Park nature reserves for walks, picnics, birding, and enjoying the green spaces with family and friends in this City where Daniel Burnham and other early City planners intended the parks and lakefront to be held and enjoyed by all citizens--not just a select few.



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