CHICAGO (CBS) — A push to rebuild an old stretch of the Green Line along 63rd Street to help tourists get to the Obama presidential library is getting pushback from the very people who first fought to tear down the tracks.
A YouTube video highlights Reuben Lillie’s one-man campaign to extend the Green Line.
“I am doing this as a concerned neighbor in Chicago,” he said.
His mission is to rebuild the train tracks that once extended along 63rd street from Cottage Grove to Dorchester. They were torn down in 1997, more than 20 years before anyone imagined there would be plans for a library honoring the first African American president.
The Obama Foundation plans to build the Obama Center near 60th and Stony Island. For now, that location sits more than a mile from the nearest ‘L’ stop, where the Green Line currently ends at 63rd and Cottage Grove.
“If the train stopped here at Dorchester, the Obama Center would be four blocks away,” Lillie said. “We want people to be able to come here in droves.”
There are those in the community who agree
“People will need that transportation. They can get on the Green Line and just get here,” Kamau Becton said.
Others, however, remember the fight in the mid 90’s to tear down the Green Line tracks from Cottage Grove to Dorchester. Malcolm Ewing lived in the neighborhood then and now.
“Most of all, it was dealing with the crime that was underneath the tracks late at night; people being able to hide,” he said.
Since the tracks came down, new housing has gone up in Woodlawn, including several $500,000 townhomes.
Businessman and activist, Rev. Leon Finney, said there are plans for more housing. Plus, the community supports Metra’s plans to renovate the 59th Street stop on the Electric Line, which overlooks the future home of the library.
“They don’t even have to transfer and get on a bus. They can walk from the Metra line right to the Obama Presidential Center,” Finney said.
It doesn’t look good for those who want to rebuild the east end of the 63rd Street green line.
CTA officials said they’ll never say never, but it is not in the budget right now.