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Report: Obama center would have ‘adverse effects’ on historic Jackson Park

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CHICAGO —An official review released Monday says the Obama Presidential Center would likely have an "adverse effect" on the historic design of Jackson Park.

The review is taking place because Jackson Park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, in part because it was the site of the 1893 World’s Fair.

Mayor Lightfoot addressed the joint city, state and federal report by saying officials would work to address any potentially adverse effects.

"We aren’t gonna be bystanders to the process. We are going to be active and engaged," Lightfoot said.

Talks between concerned residents and the group behind the center have been stalled for eight months. Now there will a public meeting Monday in Logan Square, in the hopes of reaching common ground.

"We have this tremendous opportunity to really think in a big way about how we can use this moment to transform South Shore and Woodlawn and Washington Park and Jackson Park in a pretty specific way," Lightfoot said.

The report identified potential infrastructure issues, like those potentially caused by the closure and expansion of nearby streets like South Lake Shore Drive and South Stony Island Avenue. The federal review also said it would diminish the “intended prominence” of the Museum of Science and Industry, erasing its nostalgic feeling.

"But we’re gonna be working to think about ways in which we can mitigate some of those impacts but it was necessary to push the federal process along," Lightfoot said.

Every day, players and their families come to play basketball at one of the Jackson Park courts. Like 10-year-old Jeremiah Thiocari, who said he wants to be a basketball star.

The court has been a place for families to meet for decades. It’s their safe space away from the streets. A local resident who identified himself as "Stan" says while they respect President Obama, they love their park and don’t want to see it removed.

"That’s just like saying: 'change Wrigley Field," Stan said. "This is like our Wrigley Field."

The next public meeting about the center's future is Monday, August 5 at the Logan Center for the Arts (details here).

Read the full report

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