HYDE PARK — Marty Nesbitt, chairman of the Barack Obama Foundation, called local aldermen Friday to assure them Chicago is still a competitor for the presidential library.
On Thursday, the Sun-Times reported that anonymous sources said First Lady Michelle Obama has the final say in where to put the library and was leaning towards New York.
Media in New York on Thursday reported that Michelle Obama and her daughter Malia toured Columbia University, where the Obama’s eldest child is considering going to college. Columbia is pushing for the presidential library to come to the university’s West Harlem campus.
Nesbitt told Ald. Will Burns (4th) and Pat Dowell (3rd) that despite the rumors and the visit to Columbia, Chicago was very much still in the running for the Obama library.
"He was calling just to say that the decision has not yet been made," Dowell said on Monday. "He said Chicago needed to put its best foot forward."
She said she talked to Nesbitt about how the library should not be the end of the investments in Woodlawn or Washington Park, should the library come to the South Side, and that they both expected additional investment from the city, the University of Chicago and other groups for whatever site gets the library.
“Chicago is definitely in play and the president and first lady think a great deal of Chicago,” Burns told the Sun-Times of his call with Nesbitt. “That was his message.”
The University of Chicago is proposing two sites on the South Side of Chicago near Jackson and Washington parks. The University of Illinois at Chicago is proposing a site in North Lawndale.
Former top advisor to the president David Axelrod, who runs the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, also said it would be “inconceivable” for many Chicagoans to see the library go to New York.
“The president spent so much of his life trying to revive the South Side of Chicago; he represented this area,” Axelrod told USA Today on Monday. “It would be so meaningful to this community to have that library and that center here, and I think he knows what it would mean.”
Aldermen with wards close to the proposed sites were not immediately available for comment.
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