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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

City Will Unveil Plan To Mitigate Obama Center’s Impact On Jackson Park In January

The update comes after months of silence from the city around the federal review process.

Obama Foundation Summit attendees look over a 3D model of updated site plans for the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park on Oct. 29, 2019.
Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
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WOODLAWN — The city plans to submit its assessment of the planned Obama Presidential Center’s effects on Jackson Park for federal review in January, officials announced in an email to community stakeholders Monday.

The update comes after a few months of silence from the city around the federal review process.

The department has “nearly completed” revising its assessment based on a public comment period that ended Aug. 30, according to Abby Monroe, public participation offer with the city’s Department of Planning and Development.

The department will host a webinar with “consulting parties” — community stakeholders who applied and were selected to be at the forefront of the review process — to go over the document once it’s completed.

The webinar was initially scheduled for Sept. 23, then rescheduled for Oct. 23 before being postponed indefinitely.

Another notice with a more specific timeline will be sent after the New Year, Monroe said in the email.

The assessment, required because a federal review found the Obama Center plans would have an “adverse impact” on Jackson Park’s historic nature, will be used to draft a memorandum of agreement.

This memorandum sets out how the city and federal agencies plan to avoid, minimize or mitigate the adverse impact.

Once a memorandum of agreement is drafted, it must be approved by the Federal Highway Administration, the National Park Service, the State Historic Preservation Office and the Advisory Council of Historic Preservation.

It’s been “kind of complete silence” from the city since the webinar’s postponement, said Erin Adams, chair of South Side Neighbors for Hope.

Consulting parties like her group have “been waiting for this for a while now … we’re really happy to see it move forward,” Adams said.

The city is also working with federal agencies on a separate environmental assessment, required under the National Environmental Policy Act. That document is also scheduled for release in early 2020, Monroe said.

The city must replace any Jackson Park land lost to the Obama Center, after it received federal funds for the park in the 1980s.

You can view the city’s handout on the Section 106 process here.

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