The planned Obama Presidential Center (OPC) in Jackson Park has drawn praise and criticism from the beginning. Proponents argue it will bring jobs and spark economic development in Woodlawn, with the Obama Foundation estimating that, over ten years, the OPC will generate $2.1 billion in additional income for South Side business owners. But critics of the center, led by the Obama Community Benefits Agreement Coalition, argue that a legally binding agreement is needed to ensure that influx goes to supporting residents, rather than displacing them.
Boasting four tall towers, each topped by an American flag and flanked by well-groomed flower beds, the South Shore Cultural Center drips of stateliness. Inside there is no less pomp and circumstance—cascading chandeliers, embossed ceilings, detailed early-twentieth century wallpaper, and floor-to-ceiling windows give the space a palatial quality.
Parks are for people,” Frances Vandervoort told me. A board member and Committee Chairman of the Hyde Park Historical Society, she holds a similar position on the Jackson Park Advisory Council (JPAC), a watchdog organization for the South Side park of the same name. That’s what I’ve come to talk with Vandervoort about: the changes that will soon come to Jackson Park. The first signs of these changes are visible even today—a nonprofit called Project 120 Chicago, in partnership with the Chicago Park District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), has partially underwritten a series of revitalization projects taking place in the park since 2013. These are forerunners of more significant changes to come: the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) is slotted to open in Jackson Park in 2021, and the Tiger Woods–designed revitalization of the Jackson Park and South Shore Golf Courses—which will combine them into one PGA-grade course, and will be financed through a public-private partnership—is expected to be completed by 2020. Both projects have been sources of controversy.
Alison Anastasio and Jennifer Raber, Rainbow Beach Dunes Stewards
Dogs on the South Side shouldn’t need to drive all over the city to get out more and exercise.”
Lead, a soft and naturally occurring metal, is one of the best-studied toxic substances known to humans—it is especially harmful to the brain, kidneys, bone marrow, and other body systems of young children. Childhood lead poisoning has been dramatically reduced over the past few decades, as lead has been phased out from gasoline, food and beverage cans, house paint, and other common sources. In 1978, there were about 14.8 million poisoned children in the United States; by the early 1990s, that number had declined to 890,000 children. In Chicago, the rates of elevated blood levels in children have decreased from one in four to fewer than one in one hundred children tested.