HYDE PARK — A plan to remake Jackson Park on the South Side is receiving help from an unexpected collaborator: Yoko Ono.
The news of Ono's involvement came as the nonprofit Project 120 unveiled its vision for the Woodlawn park — which has also been floated as a possible location for the Barack Obama Presidential Library — at a meeting this week hosted by 5th Ward Ald. Leslie Hairston at the University of Chicago.
The $10 million project will be funded through a combination of public and private money, some of which will come from the Army Corps ecology project already underway at Jackson Park.
Ono, the widow of the late Beatle John Lennon, joined the project after being moved by the beauty of the park during a trip to Chicago several years ago, said Project 120 Director Robert Karr.
“Her interest came from the story itself," Karr said at the meeting Tuesday night. "She started to visit, connect to the site, and felt connected personally based upon her own experiences, basically riding the wave of being not Japanese, not American and creating a sense of self and identity.”
Ono was not at the meeting, but the project will incorporate her vision of the Japanese garden at the site becoming a place of contemplation and celebration. She also will help with work on the Phoenix pavilion, a structure destroyed by vandals 70 years ago during World War II.
“She wants to, as she says, ‘Have the sky come down and cool this place,’” said Karr, who is also collaborating with Kulapat Yantrasast, an architect from Why Designs. Yantrasast on Tuesday proudly showed off his ImaginePeace T-shirt, a gift from Ono.
Plans also call for a music court, new restrooms and a number of multipurpose rooms — which received a bit of pushback from local residents concerned about noise.
“It just seems that you shouldn’t build it unless you know how it’s going to play out,” one resident told Heritage Landscapes’ Patricia O’Donnell during the question-and-answer session.
Another plan to reduce traffic on the Cornell Street thoroughfare by reducing its size and adding two bike lanes drew criticism from Hairston, who raised safety concerns.
The stone bridge stretching over the Jackson Park lagoon that has recently fallen into disrepair also will be restored, along with the neglected basketball courts, which will be moved to another area of the park.
There is no direct tie between the University of Chicago's proposal to locate the Obama library at the park and these plans, said Karr, who said the bulk of the funding for the project — 65 percent — is coming from federal funds.
There will be another meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Montgomery Place, 5550 S. Lake Shore Drive.
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