SOUTH LOOP — As Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Lucas Museum Site Selection Task Force continues to throw out site suggestions to lure "Star Wars" creator George Lucas' memorabilia museum to Chicago, a recent suggestion that the parking lot in Museum Campus be considered has greenspace activists up in arms.
Independent advocacy group Friends of the Parks made a statement of opposition Wednesday suggesting the city find other locations to propose for the Lucas museum that don't infringe on prime, public lakefront space.
“While we are very supportive of the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum coming to Chicago, we oppose its siting on lakefront public open space," Cassandra Francis, president of Friends of the Parks, said in a release.
"The Lakefront Protection Ordinance specifically states that, ‘in no instance will further private development be permitted east of Lake Shore Drive.'" Francis said. "It is clear that the siting of the Lucas Museum in this lakefront location contradicts our prior city visionaries’ goal of continuous public open space along the lakefront."
Emanuel formed the task force on April 18 "to help in the process of exploring a potential site for the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum," he said.
"This public input process will assist the Task Force in determining a proper location for this unique institution that will be a local educational anchor and major international tourism draw," he said.
Chicago is one of several locations Lucas is reportedly considering for the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum. San Francisco is also lobbying to host the archive.
Lucas has ties to Chicago via his wife, Mellody Hobson, a local businesswoman who the director wed last summer at Promontory Point in Hyde Park.
Lauren Moltz, Friends of the Parks' board chairwoman, argued that the current use of the proposed site — as a parking lot for the nearby Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium and other attractions — doesn't preclude the possibility of future additional greenspace the way a building would.
"Future reversion to parkland is possible" for the parking lot site, Moltz said in a statement issued by Friends of the Parks.
"This is not a new issue given Friends of the Parks’ mission and extensive public opposition to the proposed siting of the Chicago Children’s Museum in Grant Park," Moltz said. "It is a slippery slope."
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