Council approves Lincoln Yards, police training facility amidst protests

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CHICAGO -- The Chicago City Council passed two controversial proposals Wednesday, signing off on plans to build Lincoln Yards on the North Side and a police training facility on the West Side, despite protests calling for the vote to wait until after upcoming elections.

With the backing of outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel and local Ald. Brian Hopkins  (2nd Ward), the 55-acre development known as Lincoln Yards was approved Wednesday. Supporters said it would bring 23,000 new jobs to the city, but opponents expressed concern of potential congestion and over-development.

Lincoln Yards would be one of the largest development projects in recent memory, but the council still needs to approve a TIF district to make it a reality.

“I can’t support this because I need a commitment that some of that $6.5 billion is coming to the Southeast Side,” Susan Sadlowski Garza said during a fierce debate on the floor of City Council.

Protesters also lined the second floor of City Hall Wednesday, gathering outside the last council meeting before next month's runoffs as they called for the approval process to wait until a new mayor is sworn in.

A proposal for a controversial $95 million police training academy on the West Side was also approved by a vote of 38-8 after Mayor Emanuel backed it.

Critics say the money should be used for mental health care and school funding, while its supporters promised increased development and safety in the area.

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