There is an irony in acquiring a National Monument while giving up a city park, yet that is what is happening in Chicago and what is sad is both are on account of the president.
Whether one likes Obama or not, he has shown himself to support public lands evidenced in protecting more than 340,000 acres of the San Gabriel Mountains. On a smaller scale he is about to do the same in his hometown where the Pullman District is just four days away from being declared a national monument. Good for Pullman, but just miles away are Washington and Jackson parks, each readying to lose twenty acres of green to build Obama’s presidential library.
Now I’m not one to say parks should never be developed, but in a city with as much vacant space as Chicago it is egregious that public land should be used for private interest.
The real problem here is the misguided notion that a building can have as much impact for a neighborhood as a park. Yes there will be jobs that come with it and that is a good argument especially in an area with little in the way of employment, but it is a shallow one considering a library could be built elsewhere in a depressed area of the city while preserving space for the city’s children to play and its’ citizens given the opportunity to enjoy space in a place that prides itself on being “urbs in horto.”
I favor the presidential library being in Chicago. It is in fact the only real place for it, but for a president that values public lands even ready to give part of Chicago over to the National Park Service, that library does not belong on the land of the people who put him in office.
Image: Washington Park, Chicago