Barack Obama High School plan runs into opposition in Chicago

Thomas Lifson
Apparently the imperative to honor Barack Obama in Chicago with a very special high school named after him was supposed to override all other considerations. But at least one group is not ready to sacrifice its concerns. And expresses dismay over the secrecy surrounding the announcement. DNA info Chicago reports:

The proposed Barack Obama College Preparatory High School would take away what little open space is left in the former Cabrini-Green neighborhood, some neighbors and neighborhood groups are saying.

The selective-enrollment school would be built on Chicago Park District land in the middle of Stanton Park near Clybourn Avenue and Larrabee Street.

Friends of the Parks, a non-for-profit Chicago parks advocacy organization, is blasting the "surprise" announcement of the new school.

Here is the text of a press release from the group:

While we support high quality education of all Chicago children, Friends of the Parks (FOTP) opposes the placement of the Barack Obama College Preparatory High School in Stanton Park recently announced by the Mayor and the Chicago Public Schools. FOTP further wants to highlight the policy and public process issues surrounding the use of public open space in this case.

First, Stanton Park is located in the center of the former Cabrini Green neighborhood which has been the subject of multiple redevelopment plans headed by the Chicago Housing Authority for almost two decades. In a city that has as its policy a minimum standard of the provision of 5 acres of public open space per 1,000 residents by 2020, this area appears significantly deficient relative to even the City’s own current standards of 2 acres of public open space per 1,000 residents as indicated in the Chicago Housing Authority’s Redevelopment Planning Manual presented February of 2014. The taking of Stanton Park further compounds the public open space deficit in this community.

Second, the local Stanton Park Advisory Council (SPAC), an official Chicago Park District-recognized entity, was not included in any planning process nor was the community given any opportunity for public input on this issue. SPAC and other local community organizations only learned of the Obama High School’s planned location through this week’s press announcement. This lack of transparency in public process is troubling, particularly given a formalized community input process regarding the CHA’s redevelopment plans highlighting Stanton Park are now underway.

In this exciting time of pending deliberations regarding the potential Chicago siting of the George Lucas Cultural Arts Museum and the Obama Presidential Library, we have great concern that the City and Chicago Park District leadership’s mindset is that public open space is expendable and public process is optional.

Apparently the imperative to honor Barack Obama in Chicago with a very special high school named after him was supposed to override all other considerations. But at least one group is not ready to sacrifice its concerns. And expresses dismay over the secrecy surrounding the announcement. DNA info Chicago reports:

The proposed Barack Obama College Preparatory High School would take away what little open space is left in the former Cabrini-Green neighborhood, some neighbors and neighborhood groups are saying.

The selective-enrollment school would be built on Chicago Park District land in the middle of Stanton Park near Clybourn Avenue and Larrabee Street.

Friends of the Parks, a non-for-profit Chicago parks advocacy organization, is blasting the "surprise" announcement of the new school.

Here is the text of a press release from the group:

While we support high quality education of all Chicago children, Friends of the Parks (FOTP) opposes the placement of the Barack Obama College Preparatory High School in Stanton Park recently announced by the Mayor and the Chicago Public Schools. FOTP further wants to highlight the policy and public process issues surrounding the use of public open space in this case.

First, Stanton Park is located in the center of the former Cabrini Green neighborhood which has been the subject of multiple redevelopment plans headed by the Chicago Housing Authority for almost two decades. In a city that has as its policy a minimum standard of the provision of 5 acres of public open space per 1,000 residents by 2020, this area appears significantly deficient relative to even the City’s own current standards of 2 acres of public open space per 1,000 residents as indicated in the Chicago Housing Authority’s Redevelopment Planning Manual presented February of 2014. The taking of Stanton Park further compounds the public open space deficit in this community.

Second, the local Stanton Park Advisory Council (SPAC), an official Chicago Park District-recognized entity, was not included in any planning process nor was the community given any opportunity for public input on this issue. SPAC and other local community organizations only learned of the Obama High School’s planned location through this week’s press announcement. This lack of transparency in public process is troubling, particularly given a formalized community input process regarding the CHA’s redevelopment plans highlighting Stanton Park are now underway.

In this exciting time of pending deliberations regarding the potential Chicago siting of the George Lucas Cultural Arts Museum and the Obama Presidential Library, we have great concern that the City and Chicago Park District leadership’s mindset is that public open space is expendable and public process is optional.