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Point Preservation Study Authorized

Congress’ first override of a veto by President Bush also constitutes a major victory for Hyde Parkers fighting city plans for Promontory Point.

The federal Water Resources Development Act enacted Thursday over Bush’s veto includes authorization of funding for a third-party review of plans to renovate the limestone revetment at the Point, the lakefront park running from 53rd to 57th Streets.

Authorization is the legislative precondition for appropriation, said Don Lamb of the Commmunity Task Force for Promontory Point, who said he expects the funds to be appropriated next year.

The planning review will be conducted by Horace Foxall, a preservation expert for the Seattle District of the Army Corps of Engineers, and must meet federal preservation standards.

One item of interest will be the shoaling of sand that is actually creating a small beachhead on the north side of the Point, where the city had claimed extensive erosion, Lamb said.

Since 2001 the Task Force has fought plans by the city and Chicago Park District to replace the limestone revetment with a concrete structure. The group raised funds to conduct engineering and architectural studies which identified inaccuracies in the engineering work done to support the city’s plan and argued for the viability of a preservation approach.

After Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. backed the Task Force’s position, the city proposed a adding limestone steps to the proposed concrete revetment. But after Sen. Barack Obama was elected in 2006, the two legislators sponsored negotiations which led to agreement on the proposal for a third-party independent review “to assess the current state of the revetment…and independently provide alternatives for the historic preservation of Promontory Point.”

Since the park district had earlier requested and been granted a determination that the Point was eligible for federal landmark status, any repair work has to be consistent with the U.S. Interior Department’s standards for preservation, Lamb said. The plans by the city and park district “were completely inconsistent with those standards,” he said.

“This is a milestone in a long process,” Lamb said, saluting the staffs of Jackson and Obama for their “sustained commitment to bringing about a solution that the community wants and that’s consistent with preservation.”

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Category: Hyde Park, Lake Michigan, parks

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