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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

How Will Governments Protect Jackson Park During Obama Center Construction? A New Plan Offers Ideas

It calls for the city to reapply for Jackson Park and the Midway's spots on the National Register of Historic Places, and to restore the Statue of the Republic.

A north-facing rendering of the Obama Presidential Center campus in Jackson Park.
The Obama Foundation
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WOODLAWN — A new draft plan outlines how nine government agencies plan to avoid, minimize and mitigate the “adverse effects” of the planned Obama Presidential Center on the historic nature of Jackson Park.

The draft agreement released Thursday calls for:

  • The city to file new National Register of Historic Places nominations for Jackson Park and the Midway Plaisance, after the final “assessment of effects” report found the historic nature of both would be impacted by the center’s construction.
  • Restoration plans for the Statue of the Republic and the English Comfort Station on the western edge of the park.
  • A public review process around a new play area at the east end of the Midway Plaisance. The play area is part of a federally required plan to replace Jackson Park land lost to the Obama Center.
  • Plans for public education on the history of Jackson Park and the replacement of native trees that would be lost during the center’s construction.
  • Reports on the existing conditions in Jackson Park and a “long-term preservation strategy” for the park.

The draft was released by a group of city, state and federal agencies led by the Federal Highway Administration. The FHWA plans to fund the city’s closures of Cornell Drive and portions of Marquette Drive and Midway Plaisance through the park.

Their signatures on the official agreement would mark the final step in the Section 106 review process, which is required of all federal projects with the potential to affect historic properties.

Eighty-eight “consulting parties” — the community stakeholders selected to be at the forefront of the federal review process — will provide feedback on the draft agreement during a webinar Thursday. But their approval is not required for the agreement to go into effect.

The University of Chicago, the offices of Alds. Leslie Hairston (5th) and Jeanette Taylor (20th), 11 Indigenous tribes and four active members of the Obama CBA Coalition are among the consulting parties.

Their official responses and all other public comment on the draft agreement must be filed with the city by Aug. 10.

More information on the Section 106 review can be found on the city’s website.

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