That is to say that the construction of the Obama Center will begin after an indefinite amount of time has elapsed because a separate federal review needs to start and finish first. On top of that, we can expect even more aggressive backlash after U.S. District Judge John Blakey tossed the lawsuit blocking the center’s construction.
The lawsuit was filed by advocacy group Protect Our Parks, which intends to head to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Protect Our Parks argued that the city had no legal authority to provide the park’s land to the Obama Foundation, which is a private organization. Attorney Mark Roth said the city provided the foundation with a “massive giveaway” without any public benefit.
The city argued that the museum will amount to a public benefit, especially in light of new plans to maintain the park grounds on which it will be built. Chicago suggested that Protect Our Park either didn’t understand how the land approval laws work, or decided to overtly misrepresent them.
Blakey provided an in-depth 52-page review of his decision. According to his prepared statements, Blakey does not believe the facts of the case would provide the basis for an ongoing trial. He suggested that “construction should commence without delay.” Of course it won’t.
Jackson Park is the desired construction site but rests on land covered by the National Register of Historic Places, which is why the awaited federal review needs to be conducted first.
Subsequent to these legal challenges, the project must go through a commentary period for public input, then discuss potential alternatives to reduce the environmental impacts from construction.
The Obama Presidential Center will be the site of a digitized presidential library, public library, and museum with a recording studio and public classrooms. The location was chosen because of its proximity where President Obama began his career in politics. He lived there with his family prior to succeeding the highest office in the land. The center will be constructed on only 20 acres of the 500-acre park.
Obama Foundation CEO David Simas said: “Our vision for the Obama Presidential Center has always been one where the location reinforces the project’s core aims: a celebration of history, a place of connection and engagement for the public, and an investment in community.”
Blakey’s decision to toss the lawsuit drew the support of Chicago’s new mayor, Lori Lightfoot, who believes it to be a step in the right direction.
Opponents also raise concerns that the new institution will displace residents and increase traffic. Those concerns were largely ignored by business groups and organizations hoping for new opportunities for economic growth in the area.