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Obama Library Land Swap on Park District Agenda for Next Week

By Ted Cox | February 5, 2015 2:53pm | Updated on February 5, 2015 4:06pm
 Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama will be selecting the site for his presidential library.
Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama will be selecting the site for his presidential library.
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HYDE PARK — The controversial land swap for the proposed Obama Presidential Library is on the fast track at the Park District, with its Board of Commissioners set to take up the matter next week.

The Park District board posted an agenda on its website Thursday saying that it will take on the "authority to transfer approximately 20 acres of property" in Washington Park or Jackson Park to the city, as previously announced in a bid for the library.

According to the legislation, the proposal has been recommended by the Park District's Law Department.

It specifically states the land would be 20 acres at 5200 S. Ellsworth Drive in Washington Park or 21 acres at 6101 S. Stony Island Ave. in Jackson Park.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has insisted the library belongs in Chicago, where President Barack Obama began his political career, formally sent a proposal to the City Council on the land swap last month. The city would get back approximately five acres for the actual library building, with the rest of the land still considered public open space.

Friends of the Parks has threatened to file suit against the land transfer, as it has against the proposed Lucas Museum on the lakefront, and Preservation Chicago has likewise called it "illegal."

The president and first lady Michelle Obama are expected to make the final decision on the location of the library. The University of Illinois at Chicago also has a bid under consideration, as does Columbia University in New York City, the president's alma mater, and Hawaii, his native state.

"I am committed to moving heaven and earth to ensure that the Obama Presidential Library makes its home on Chicago's South or West Side, not on Manhattan's Upper West Side," Emanuel said Thursday. "Next week's action by the Park District will be another step toward ensuring we've met the president's request to secure the three finalist sites."

The meeting is set for 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Jesse White Community Center, 410 W. Chicago Ave.

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