Plans To Revamp South Side Including New Golf Course Discussed In Obama Library Meeting

CHICAGO (CBS) — Residents near Barack Obama’s Presidential Library received Wednesday an update on more changes to their neighborhood’s landscape.

Now CBS 2 is hearing more about plans for a new world-class golf course.

CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar has more details.

Leaders with the Obama Foundation gave an update on the plan and progress of the library, making it very clear that nothing is final. But there is a lot of excitement around the possibility of revitalizing the South Side.

“We want the best park in America to be on the South Side of Chicago and why not,” said Michael Strautmanis, Obama Foundation.

One stroke at a time, plans to revamp the city’s South Side parks is in full swing.

“The principles that drove this design are one to give more people, more ways to use this park,” Strautmanis said.

The Obama Foundation hosted the first of three community meetings focusing in part on the already unveiled Obama Library. Representatives from the city of Chicago, the Chicago Park District and the Obama Foundation laid out their ideas for the Obama Presidential Center, then asked for ideas from the community.

The ideas ranged from renaming all of Jackson Park to honor the 44th President to art and athletic programs for children. WBBM’s Bob Roberts reports.

There was no shouting, even when concerns were raised about the future of a dog park and a running path and one man’s fear that the library would become a vehicle for gentrification. One woman wondered where the House Music Picnic could relocate.

The city, parks and foundation representatives stressed that planning is still in the early stages, but spoke of a center that would include everything from a Chicago Public Library branch to barbecue pits.

And on Wednesday, plans were announced to merge the Jackson Park and South Shore golf courses.

“Tiger wanted something positive for this community,” said Beau Welling, golf course designer.

Tiger, as in Tiger Woods, is behind the idea to create a family-friendly, affordable golf course that would also attract major professional tournaments.

“Its pretty exciting that there’s going to be some major golf coming to the city of Chicago,” said golfer, Scott Hedges.

The new 18-hole golf course would be PGA worthy, stretching to more than 7,300 yards for heavy hitters, but it would also have a very short, family-friendly six-hole course next to it.

The Chicago Park District spent $1-million on the design, but it is not clear yet how much it would actually cost to build the course, or who would pay.

The Chicago Golf Alliance said a big chunk of the cost would come from private donations, but we do not yet know the total cost, nor how much taxpayers would be on the hook for.

“With the community they are concerned with jobs and how it will impact them in a positive way,” said Harry Gillial, Jackson Park Golf Association.

Included in the design are underpasses so golfers would not have to pass Jeffery Boulevard or South Shore Drive.

Some South Shore residents are excited for the changes.

“I am so excited, I’m on fire,” said Joan Forbes. “I’m just really excited about this process.”

But not everyone feels the same.

“It’s really disturbing a great network of parks,” said Ward Miller, Preservation Chicago. “I think this taking of public lands for a monument to ones self is really not appropriate.”

Again these discussions will be ongoing – really a chance for people to listen and be heard as the planning process moves along with Obama’s library set to open in 2021.

The meeting was the first of three community meetings hosted by the Obama Foundation. A second is scheduled at Hyde Park High School from 10 a.m. until noon Saturday and at 6 p.m. Tuesday at La Rabida Children’s Hospital.

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