Head Of Friends Of The Park Thinks Obama Library Plans Are Moving Too Quickly For Input

CHICAGO (CBS) — The head of the Group “Friends of the Parks” is complaining that plans for the Obama Presidential Library and Museum in Jackson Park seem to be moving too quickly for true community input.

“Friends of the Parks” opposed putting the Obama Library in a city park, but Executive Director Juanita Irizarry said that fight is over; and now her group just wants to make sure the project is done properly for Jackson Park and the surrounding community. WBBM’s Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports.

“We had indeed been telling the city and the Park District and the Obama Foundation that we thought a comprehensive planning process was in order. We have been saying that to them for a better part of the last of the year. We were super excited when they announced such a process, but now it happening so quickly, that we don’t believe it possibly can be a real, transparent process,” she said.

Irizarry, her group and others feel the Obama Foundation is moving so quickly with plans for the Presidential Library complex that there’s no time to get needed information and have real input.

“We need to lift our voices as a community. Friends of the Park, as a citywide advocacy group, but folks in the neighborhood and more, and more, our local elected officals are saying the same. They are saying – wait a minute, we need to see the information,” she said.

Irizarry said there are still many questions, and she said the planners haven’t always been forthcoming about the details of things like the adjacent golf course or natural areas in the park. She said further that, the Obama Foundation hasn’t allowed enough input.

“They are not being forthcoming. You have to know enough about the parks to see the drawing and say, but wait a minute, what is there now? Because they are not announcing that their making things go away in order to do this, so it’s hard to trust what we are actually told,” Irizarry said.

But, Mike Strautmanis, the Obama Foundation Vice President for Civic Engagement, said there’ve been public meetings, plus the Foundation has an open door policy and has met with thousands of community members in the past year, and said, we look forward to meeting with thousands more.

Below is the full statement from Mike Strautmanis, Obama Foundation VP of Civic Engagement:

“The Foundation was pleased to receive helpful feedback from members of the community and stakeholders at the series of public meetings organized by the City and Alderman Hairston in June and July, as well as through our online survey and smaller group meetings, that will help inform our plans. In addition, the Foundation has an open door policy and has met with thousands of community members in the past year, and we look forward to meeting with thousands more. As we continue the process of developing the OPC, we’re also trying to meet people where they are whether that’s at festivals around Chicago or through surveys on our website.”

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