After a tumultuous few months where the city's apparent lock for the Obama Presidential Library appeared to slowly unravel, Chicago now has a reason to be optimistic. Yesterday afternoon, the Chicago Park District Board unanimously approved a measure to allow roughly 20 acres of Washington or Jackson Park to be used for the University of Chicago's bid for the new institution. This sets in motion a scenario where the parkland will be transferred to the Obama Foundation if the South Side bid wins out, but will remain as is if another site is chosen.
The foundation quickly issued a statement praising the vote, saying it strengthened the bid, further reassuring supporters. Opponents and park advocates, such as Cassandra Francis of Friends of the Parks, have already pledged to fight the contentious decision to transfer the public space. After Michelle and Malia's college visit in Manhattan and a Sun-Times piece suggesting Michelle favored New York, Chicagoans feeling anxious about their city's chance to land the Obama Library may now let out a sigh of relief.
The Park District's move also comes on the heels of David Axelrod's recent show of confidence in Chicago. As Politico reported, during a visit to CBS's This Morning, the president's former senior advisor made the Clinton is to Little Rock as Obama is to Chicago analogy before saying that "he can do so much with this one gesture that it's hard for me to believe that he'll pass on that opportunity."
As Obama friend Marty Nesbitt reassured elected officials and Axelrod put public pressure on the president, Mayor Emanuel has been doing all he can to make it "an easy choice for the president." While the competition is far from over, Chicago's case, specifically the South Side bid, now seems stronger than it has been all year.
·Obama Foundation Says Vote To OK Parkland for Library 'Improves' City's Bid [DNAinfo]
·Chicago Park District approves land transfer for U. of C. Obama library bid [Tribune]
·David Axelrod: Obama likely to pick Chicago for library [Politico]
·Previous Obama Library coverage [Curbed Chicago]