NEAR NORTH — The proposed Barack Obama College Preparatory High School would take away what little open space is left in the former Cabrini-Green neighborhood, some neighbors and neighborhood groups are saying.
The selective-enrollment school would be built on Chicago Park District land in the middle of Stanton Park near Clybourn Avenue and Larrabee Street.
Friends of the Parks, a non-for-profit Chicago parks advocacy organization, is blasting the "surprise" announcement of the new school.
"The range [of reactions] is from extremely disappointed to irate," said Cassandra Francis, president of Friends of the Parks.
Francis said neither the Friends of the Parks, nor the local Stanton Park Advisory Council were aware of the plans for the school before the official news conference Thursday announcing the school.
Paul Biasco joined DNAinfo radio to chat about some concerns about the proposed school:
"These folks from Stanton Park were never even consulted on this," Francis said. "That's disturbing."
On Monday, the group released a statement saying, "We have great concern that the City and Chicago Park District leadership's mindset is that public open space is expendable and public process is optional."
Obama College Prep is scheduled to be built just north of Skinner North Elementary School and open for the 2017-2018 school year, according to Chicago Public Schools officials.
The school's proposed location is in the middle of CHA's Cabrini-Green Redevelopment Plan.
The CHA's preliminary plan counted on the land at Stanton Park as one of the main open spaces in redeveloping the site.
The new high school could throw a wrench into those redevelopment plans, which were revealed in February after years of planning.
"It's just weird. Think of all the hours and hours of time that went in to plan the Cabrini-Green redevelopment plan and somehow from the back door we get a school," said David Goldstein, a member of the Stanton Park Advisory Council.
The Cabrini-Green redevelopment proposal called for building a road through a portion of Stanton Park to ease traffic in the area, as well as low-density residential housing.
While the Cabrini plan would cut out a portion of Stanton Park's open space, a large portion was to remain.
“The issue is they dropped this school into the park," Francis said. "That’s a policy issue. We are trying to preserve the open space.”
A CPS spokesman was not immediately able to comment on the opposition to the Obama school.