AWKWARD: Plans for Obama Center Slammed By U of Chicago For Being "Socially Regressive"

Talk about making things uncomfortable.

Former President Barack Obama, clearly a darling of the social progressives among us, is having trouble getting his Obama Center plans blessed by some future next door neighbors. Specifically, several faculty members at the University of Chicago take issue with the proposed plans and have signed a letter of concern.


The full letter is here and contains the following, emphasis mine:

We members of the University of Chicago faculty who sign this letter support the idea of establishing the Obama Center in our neighborhood, in the South Side. However, as details of the plans have become public we share concerns expressed by neighborhood groups throughout the South Side.

First, there are concerns that the Obama Center as currently planned will not provide the promised development or economic benefits to the neighborhoods

Second, the current plan calls for taking a large section of an historic public park and giving it to a private entity for development.

Third, because of the planned location of the Obama Center, the Obama Foundation plans to take over a section of another historic, public park — Midway Plaisance, also designed by Olmsted — and turn it into an above-ground parking garage.

Overall, this is a socially regressive plan…Again, this is a precious, historic urban park that ought to be preserved for future generations not given to a private entity for development into a parking lot.

Finally, it is the taxpayers of Chicago who are going to be forced to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for this project, according to estimates by the Chicago Department of Transportation. The required widening of Lake Shore Drive alone is estimated to be over $100 million. Not only are public lands being given to a private entity but the public will pay to have Cornell Drive closed and Stony Island Avenue and Lake Shore Drive widened. We are concerned that these are not the best ways to use public funds to invest in the future of Chicago.

We are concerned that rather than becoming a bold vision for urban living in the future it will soon become an object-lesson in the mistakes of the past.


Ouch. A plan that won’t benefit the neighborhood? Takes park land? All at high cost to taxpayers? That sounds more like community disorganizing.

It seems the Obama Foundation is more concerned with leaving a horribly expensive land-grabbing mark for future generations, no matter how high the societal cost. In fact, the protest letter was spot-on when it exclaimed that as it stands, the current plan “…will soon become an object-lesson in the mistakes of the past.” Quite right. This also applies to the Obama presidency.

Personally, I find it rather amusing that the community organizer who is praised for doing so much to help his fellow humans, and whose own tenure in the White House was viewed as Messiah-like, has his name attached to this plan. Not so different from the “legacy” of Obamacare, which turned out to be a disaster, like we knew it would.

Who knows if the plans will be greatly modified, but I’m sure the Obama Center will make its grand appearance in the not too distant future. When it does, the final burden to the ground and pockets of Chicagoans will be a reminder of the presidency it represents, too.


(h/t Campus Reform)

Follow Kimberly Ross on Twitter: @southernkeeks.


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