KENWOOD — Speaking at a school that could be affected by the Barack Obama Presidential Library, the mayor Friday defended using parkland to sweeten a city proposal for the facility.
"Where we're standing today is not far from one place that the president is looking at," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a news conference at Kenwood Academy. "I think having the president's library in the city of Chicago ... is a tremendous opportunity educationally, culturally and economically."
Emanuel pointed to the beneficial impact previous presidential libraries have had in Georgia, California, Texas and Arkansas.
While some groups, like Friends of the Parks, have opposed granting park land for the library, others Thursday supported the proposal — if absolutely necessary for the city to win the competition. Earlier this week, the University of Chicago proposed including swaths of Washington Park or Jackson Park for the library.
Emanuel suggested Friday it was critical to sweeten the city's proposal as much as possible, emphasizing it was a one-shot opportunity and adding, "I do not want to look back and say, 'Had we done what we should have done.'
"The library should go in the city in which he started his political career," Emanuel said. "Chicago is going to meet its test and pass with flying colors."
Emanuel said local support was already lining up for the library.
"We're gonna be running a community process through the Park District," he said. "It is not an accident that the four aldermen in this area were clear, having represented their communities, they want that library.
"We'll run a process that's fair to make sure that all the questions are answered, and then the president and the first lady can make a decision," Emanuel added. "I happen to think that should be an easy decision."
The Obama Foundation running the selection process is expected to make a final recommendation on the site to the president and first lady Michelle Obama early this year.
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