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UIC Adds North Lawndale Site To Bid For Obama Library

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CHICAGO (CBS) – A site that once played a major role in a Chicago scandal has been proposed as a possible home for Obama Presidential Library.

WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports the empty lot at the corner of Roosevelt Road and Kostner Avenue in the North Lawndale neighborhood was once an illegal waste dumping site in the Operation Silver Shovel corruption scandal, which sent six aldermen and 12 other people to prison.

Now, community activists have teamed up with the University of Illinois at Chicago to promote the site as a place to put the Obama Presidential Library.

WBBM 780’s Regine Schlesinger

north lawndale site UIC Adds North Lawndale Site To Bid For Obama Library
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They said President Barack Obama has been all about change, and putting his library in North Lawndale would be a way to transform an impoverished Chicago neighborhood.

North Lawndale resident Marcus Betts, a marketing and promotions specialist, said “North Lawndale has their game face on, and came ready to play.”

State Sen. Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) said the West Side is the best choice for the Obama Presidential Library.

“This is where the dreams and visions of so many African Americans have been developed and also promoted,” she said. “This is a place where we found our footing, and been able to stand and grow.”

CBS 2′s Susanna Song reports, while UIC and North Lawndale leaders were touting the West Side site, six UIC students were in Washington, D.C., doing what they could to persuade members of the Barack Obama Foundation to take a closer look at all three of UIC’s proposed sites.

“I think the presidential library can definitely be an economic engine for the area. So when you talk about young black males who are looking for work, when you talk about young males who don’t have access to the same educational opportunities, this library can actually be an engine to actually drive those things to those individuals,” Jauwan Hall said.

The 23-acre site in North Lawndale is located just south of the Eisenhower Expressway, and about a mile from two Blue Line stations.

UIC also has proposed two other sites – one at Harrison and Halsted streets on the university campus, and another at Ashland Avenue and Taylor Street in the Illinois Medical District.

Monday is the deadline for bids for the Obama library.

The University of Chicago – where Obama served as a law professor and lecturer from 1992 to 2004 – also has submitted at least one bid, as has Chicago State University.

The University of Chicago has said their proposal does not include a site on its Hyde Park campus, and has ruled out a vacant lot at Garfield Boulevard and King Drive as part of its submission. According to the Chicago Tribune, the university was considering two other possible sites for its bid – the South Shore Cultural Center, and a site just west of Jackson Park near Hyde Park Academy High School.

At Chicago State University, Dr. Richard Darga is appealing to the president’s sense of history as the campus is close to where he was a community organizer.

“We have people on the committee that either knew him indirectly or directly — were with him as he began his career here,” said Darga.

Two private bids in Chicago are considered long shots: one at the old U.S. Steel South Works site, and another at the long-vacant Michael Reese Hospital just south of McCormick Place in Bronzeville.

Paula Robinson of Black Metropolis thinks the Reese site is the perfect compromise.

“We see it as it high ground, neutral ground, something that all the universities can come around and support,” said Robinson.

The Barack Obama Foundation has said it expects all bids for the library by the end of the day Monday. It has said it will keep all bids confidential.

Bids also are expected from New York City and Hawaii.

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