- Chicago Newstips by Community Media Workshop - http://www.newstips.org -

‘No’ to Olympics in Jackson Park

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The Jackson Park Advisory Council, which voted last month against siting Olympic venues in the park, will hold a public meeting with the Chicago 2016 Olympic committee’s new community representative September 10.

The Council has never been consulted about Chicago 2016 plans to site field hockey competitions in heavily-used soccer fields south of the Jackson Park lagoon, said Ross Petersen.

JPAC voted at its July meeting to oppose “as ill-advised and inappropriate the siting of Olympic venues in Jackson Park.”

Petersen estimates that several thousand people use the soccer fields each weekend for AYSO, high school, and Latin American league games. The Olympics “would displace a solid group of established users, and limit or prevent access to a large area for up to three years” – including preparation and restoration time – he said.

The Olympic venue would also threaten sensitive natural areas that border the fields, he said. The Bobolinks Meadows and Woods feature dozens of tall grass and wildflower species native to Illinois woodlands, supporting a wide variety of birds and other wildlife. The nature sanctuary is now a restricted area for birding, walking, and nature study.

Petersen suggested that rather than taking over an existing park, the Olympics should consider sites like the now-vacant former USX steel mill south of 79th Street on the lake, where new parkland has been proposed.

Following what Petersen said were numerous invitations from the JPAC, Chicago 2016 is sending its new community representative, Gyata Kimmons, to discuss plans and answer questions at JPAC’s monthly meeting, Monday, September 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the Jackson Park fieldhouse, 6401 S. Stony Island.

Meanwhile, the parks committee of the Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference met with a Chicago Parks District representative on August 21, committee chair Gary Ossewaarde reported [2].

HPKCC leaders noted community concerns about “continuing lack of community involvement” and “strong fears and opposition” from many community members, reflecting specific questions as well as “the feeling that giving Washington and Jackson Parks to the Olympics violated the public trust and the purpose of the parks, and took what belongs to the citizens,” according to Ossewaarde.

HPKCC has not taken a position on Olympic committee proposals for local parks.