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Jackson Park Master Plan Getting Slowed Down By Park District

By Sam Cholke | September 26, 2017 5:36am | Updated on September 27, 2017 11:53am
 People who came out Monday to talk details about Jackson Park found the Chicago Park District is going back to basics.
People who came out Monday to talk details about Jackson Park found the Chicago Park District is going back to basics.
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DNAinfo/Sam Cholke

SOUTH SHORE — The Chicago Park District is slowing down its planning for Jackson Park.

Work on projects for the park, including the Obama Presidential Center and combining the Jackson Park and South Shore golf courses, is still moving forward but the framework plan that will guide the longterm changes to the park will be delayed until next year.

“We are slowing it down,” said Heather Gleason, director of planning and construction for the Chicago Park District about the framework plan that was to be finished in October and now will be released in January.

She said at a Monday open house about the planning process at the South Shore Cultural Center that the Park District wants to give the public more information about the how the park is currently used and collect additional feedback on how people want to use the park in the future.

The original plan was for people to be ready to dive into the details of planning for Jackson Park in September, and many of the people 50 people who came to the first of two open houses hosted by the Park District came with specific questions.

“I don’t know if they have the details people were expecting tonight,” said Lauren Moltz, chairwoman of Friends of the Parks.

She said she came with questions about how much a proposed pedestrian underpass would cost and how many trees would be cut down to widen Stony Island Avenue and Lake Shore Drive to accommodate traffic if Cornell Drive is closed in the park. She said she wasn’t able to get answers to either question.

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said she was glad the Park District was slowing down and was feeling increasingly positive about a planning process she has publicly criticized in the past as being too opaque.

“It’s a good thing, it shows they’re listening,” Hairston said.

As the public process slows down, it’s unclear whether individual projects will make the same tempo change.

The framework plan for Jackson Park was originally expected to come out in October and among other things was to outline how the Obama Presidential Center would fit into the park before the center’s own plans start moving through the city approval process in November.

Obama Center officials have said in the past they are not wedded to their timeline, but have not said they would also slow down the plans for the center.

Brian Hogan, director of the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance, said there are no hard deadlines on plans for the golf course currently. He said there are still months of design work that need to be done.

Survey crews were out on Lake Shore Drive on Monday doing the prep work the Chicago Department of Transportation needs to do the detailed designs for widening Lake Shore Drive and Stony Island Avenue and closing sections of Cornell and Marquette drives.

The Park District has made the graphics from Monday’s meeting available online and will host another open house from 4-8 p.m. Wednesday at the Stony Island Arts Bank, 6760 S. Stony Island Ave.