THE LOOP — A federal judge on Thursday rejected the city's motion to dismiss the Friends of the Parks lawsuit against the Lucas Museum.
"We're pleased the case is going forward," said Tom Geoghegan, attorney for Friends of the Parks. "We think it's an excellent occasion for the mayor to reconsider the location of this project on the lakefront."
At the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse, Judge John Darrah ruled against all the arguments presented by city attorneys and those representing the Chicago Park District to dismiss the suit — the second time he's done so. He did, however, expedite their bid to make another argument, setting a court date in two weeks.
"It is urgent from our perspective," said city attorney Brian Sieve, as the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art hopes to break ground between Soldier Field and McCormick Place this spring.
If the suit is cleared, the judge and attorneys would set a schedule for discovery, almost certainly making it impossible to start construction this spring.
"We hope the mayor reconsiders and does the right thing," Geoghegan said, emphasizing, "Friends of the Parks is not against the Lucas Museum," only its location on parkland on the lakefront.
"We are thrilled," said Juanita Irizarry, executive director of Friends of the Parks, of the verdict. "We expect to be victorious."
Darrah previously stated there's a hold on construction while the suit is pending.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has endorsed the museum and moved it through the Park District and the City Council, but the Friends of the Parks lawsuit remains a last hurdle before construction can begin — if it ever begins at that location.
"There's a lot of good case law in our favor," Geoghegan said. "The judge has recognized that, and we hope the mayor recognizes that, too."
The suit is based on the concept that there's a public trust in the lakefront parkland, and that not even the General Assembly's move to grant permission for the museum last year can overrule that.
"Every generation fights this battle," Geoghegan said. "We're fighting it again."
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