Before a single shovel has broken ground in the construction of former President Barack Obama’s Presidential Library in Chicago’s south side, the sprawling complex is under fire from local activists and officials who argue the giant center misuses public lands and tax-funded parks.
Less than one week after the Obama Foundation released its official plans for the library –which includes a test kitchen and healthcare facility- the design is already being panned as an abuse of public lands in a “historic” section of the nations’ third largest city.
The major point of contention regarding the 20-acre project is the Obama Foundation’s refusal to allow the National Archives agency to oversee the land, which is located on government-controlled property.
“If the Obama Foundation wishes to construct this center on Chicago’s South Side, that’s fine, but not on parkland held in public trust,” Charles Birnbaum, President of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, told the Washington Examiner.
“The University of Chicago, which orchestrated the winning bid for the project, has plenty of land on the South Side that they could and should use. Instead, they’ve been adamant since day one that they must have historic public parkland for the purpose,” he added.
According to the Washington Examiner, the Cultural Landscape Foundation is joined by Friends of the Parks, Jackson Park Watch, Openlands, National Association for Olmsted Parks, Save the Midway, and others in opposing Obama’s private plans.