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Friends of the Parks: U of C 'Going Too Far' With Land Grab

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An editorial that compares a Washington or Jackson Park land grab to Columbia fencing off part of Central Park starts off with a clear message: The University of Chicago is going too far. Writing in the Sun-Times, Cassandra J. Francis, President and CEO of Friends of the Parks, and Charles A. Birnbaum, president and CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation, claims that the university is making an unprecedented request for some of the nation's greatest parkland, and backing up that request with "vague justifications, unsubstantiated claims, and misleading polling."

This isn't the first park-friendly editorial supporting a South Side bid that wants to keep bulldozers away from anything designed by the great Frederick Law Olmsted. But Francis and Birnbaum do the best job of calling out the university, specifically asking if their poll supporting the use of parkland for the library was properly worded, if their claims of a big economic bump from the library have been verified by a third party, and whether the current 11-acre, park-adjacent parcel they own is really too small to support a library (especially when Boston's John F. Kennedy Library takes up 10 acres).

It's clearly a message meant for the Chicago Park District Board, which is told in no uncertain terms to "step in" during a meeting this Wednesday, when it decides whether or not to allow parkland to be "confiscated," as well as Obama, who is told in closing that if his library rests on one of these parks, it would "tarnish" his conservation legacy. This comes at a time when Obama pal and Chairman of the Barack Obama Foundation Marty Nesbitt just finished calming down anxious alderman, telling them Chicago "needs to put its best foot forward." Should be an interesting meeting on Wednesday.

·Taking parkland for Obama Library is not the only choice [Sun-Times]
·Previous Obama Library coverage [Curbed Chicago]
·Previous Friends of the Parks coverage [Curbed Chicago]