CHICAGO (CBS) — The City Council has cleared the way for the city to take control of Park District land on the South Side for the Barack Obama Presidential Library and Museum, if the University of Chicago’s bid for the facility is selected.
The Barack Obama Foundation was concerned the city and university don’t own the land the school has proposed for building the library – parcels in either Jackson Park or Washington Park – so the Emanuel administration forged an agreement with the Park District to transfer the proposed sites to the city.
On Wednesday, the City Council gave final approval to the deal by a 47-0 vote, with one alderman abstaining.
The University of Chicago’s plan would call for the Park District to transfer control of about 20 acres of land in either Jackson Park or Washington Park to the city, if the Barack Obama Foundation awards the library to the University. The library building would be built on 3 to 5 acres of land, while the agreement would require the remaining 15 to 18 acres of the site to be open green space. The city also would have to replace the open space given up for the library building by providing an equal amount of green space elsewhere in the city.
In voicing his support for the measure, Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) acknowledged park advocates have threatened to sue to block the library from being built on park land.
“I understand the situation with the parks. One of the things that I always say is that we can build another park, but we cannot get another Barack Obama Library,” he said.
Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd), whose ward covers parts of Washington Park, said the South Side is the best choice for the library.
“This library belongs in only one place. There’s no other place that this library can go,” she said.