CHICAGO — On the final push for community support the Obama Foundation brought out its biggest ambassador to make the final sell for the Obama Presidential Center.
Former President Barack Obama made a visit to Chicago to speak at the Tuesday meeting at McCormick Place.
The $300 million museum and center will be built in Jackson Park, with private donations. The community meeting and the six others before it have shaped part of the plan.
The former president said his mission is to get the center up and running to bring development to Chicago’s South Side.
“If we’ve got a situation where people come to Chicago they say, ‘I wanna see Millennium Park but man, I wanna go to Jackson Park,'” he said.
Concerns over parking, gentrification, affordable housing and sustainable employment in nearby Woodlawn are still being asked by some.
Community members and activists gathered for a prayer vigil before the meeting, many with concerns about the impact the center will have on the Jackson Park and Woodlawn neighborhoods.
Some at the prayer vigil said they are not trying to stop the library from coming, but they’re asking for a Community Benefits Agreement, or CBA.
The group is seeking an agreement that would guarantee long-term, well-paying jobs, affordable housing programs and improved public schools. The foundation rejected it, as its already made many concessions for community growth, so now, the CBA group turns to city council to put it into law.
The meeting Tuesday was the foundation’s final step, touting the Obama Center’s mission and outreach to the community before it heads to the city’s planning commission.
On Tuesday, the Obama foundation announced a $3.5 million donation to build a new artificial turf field at Jackson park, one that will be able to be used by the community and nearby Hyde Park schools even during construction of the $300 million dollar Obama Center.