October Events

Upcoming MPAC events!  Please visit the Events page for additional dates.

OCTOBER

10/11/17 (Wed) 6:30-8pm.  MPAC October meeting.  This month’s meeting will focus on the fall bulb-planting project, which is possible thanks to a grant from SECC. In addition, we will revisit concerns about the Obama Presidential Center garage proposed to be built in the Midway Plaisance Park, nominate PAC officers for 2018, and make plans for the winter season including the opening of the ice skating rink in late November.
The meeting will be in the field house by the ice rink.

10/15/17 (Sunday), 9am. RBC Race for the Kids at Comer Children’s.  There will be road closures on the Midway associated with this race including Westbound Midway Plaisance (from Stony Island to Cottage Grove) and 59th Street (from Dorchester to Cottage Grove).  For more informaton and to register please go to http://race.uchicagokidshospital.org/

10/29/17 (Sunday) Work date: Bulb Planting.  MPAC will plant over 2,000 bulbs on the hillsides by the train tracks in an effort to add more beauty to the Midway.  Date to be confirmed.  Many thanks to the SECC for the grant award and for their vital support on this project.

 

Notes from CDOT and OPC Meeting – 9/12/17

MIDWAY PLAISANCE PARK ADVISORY COUNCIL (MPAC) MEETING

September 12, 2017

6:30-8:30 p.m.

Representatives from CDOT, OPC, and CPD in attendance to discuss the proposed OPC parking garage on the Midway with MPAC members and community members.

 

CDoT overview.  Representatives – Aaron Patterson, John Sadler

  • Shared handouts and display boards describing the proposed changes to Cornell, Stony Island, etc. These same displays were available at the public meetings held at the South Shore Cultural Center.
  • Outlined the changes under consideration, some of which were considered in previous plans, including the 1999 framework plans, including closing Cornell and Marquette.
    • “Preliminary design phase.” Need more community input.

 

Questions/responses.

  • Traffic Volumes? – 59th St, Stony Island, Lake Shore Drive (LSD).
    • Changes are intended to shift most traffic to LSD and out of the park, but traffic on Stony would also increase. Currently ~27,000 cars/day on Cornell: estimated volume increase of ~6K on Stony Island (14K to 20K, max = 30K), and increase of ~18K for LSD (46K to 64K, max = 65K).
  • Traffic coordination -impact of changes to bus routes. Setting visiting hours with traffic patterns in mind?
  • Access to LSD? -still under consideration
  • Concerns about the Stony & 59th St intersection. -trucks under the viaduct, traffic calming, congestion on 59th, high school, Lab access to park across Stony.
    • Want to improve Stony for drivers and pedestrians.
    • Looking at different busy times
    • Working with Lab School
    • Considering opening 57th St to two-way traffic – further analysis needed
    • Might prohibit right turn onto 59th – further analysis needed
  • Parking – increased demand in saturated area due to OPC visitors looking for free parking. Note: Commuters may fill up a parking garage.
    • OPC visitors will be looking fo
  • Impact of changes to bus routes.

 

OPC overview.  Representatives – Michael Strautmanis and Roark Frankel

  • Current stage: release of designs, community meetings, focus groups, meetings with organizations. Interested in lots of input and will make changes.
  • At this meeting: Focus on design, timelines, spaces for community use, parking. Also looking at the 1999 plan and entire South Park system.
  • Timeline:
    • Plan Commission by end of 2017. This is not the final design, but will grant OPC permission to build something of a certain size.
    • Ground-breaking in 2018.
    • Opening in 2021
  • Design: 3 buildings—museum, forum, library. The only tall building will be the museum.  Park will be placed on top of forum and library.
  • Parking: Current proposal is to have garage on the Midway that would be buried, but not fully underground. Don’t want to go to water table (reduces cost).  400-450 cars.  Landscaping on top of garage = landscaped mound.  20’tall, 3-4’ higher than Metra tracks.  Bus parking – up against the Metra tracks.
    • Cons to burying it beneath the OPC buildings – a) unattractive; gaping hole on Stony Island; ventilation towers. b) traffic flow; would require a left-hand turn from Stony.
    • Cons to remote parking -Not practical, due to anticipated scale of museum, to shuttle visitors from remote parking.
    • Pros to parking on Midway – would encourage people to walk through the neighborhood. (Note: At MSI, they get 1.4m visitors a year, but is not connected to neighborhood.)

 

Questions/responses.

  • Negative impacts on the park: 1) Affects the connection between the parks; 2) Parking lot will destroy Midway as a park, as will a bus terminal; 3) Unfortunate precedent to build a parking garage on parkland; 4) Jackson Park and Midway were to be included in National Register of Historic Places in 1972 – Does this place limits on what can be done with the land? 5) Garage does not fit in with the 1999 Master Plan or 2000 CPD framework plan
  • Design: What is distance from top of garage to Metra? Are there boards showing underground garage?
    • Distance between garage and train tracks – 50’ at north, 100’ from south
    • No design boards available
  • Location: Has OPC moved north from original proposal? Zoning change requires legal notices to people within a certain number of feet and approval.  Activation on street is good, but would be better further south, at 63rd  Is it worth the downsides?  Plan B if the community is opposed to the garage?  People crossing Stony Island?
    • Site boundaries have changed, which allows for track to move.
    • People would have the right to object to a zoning change, but it won’t change.
    • This is the preferred strategy, but is not a done deal.
  • Other parking options: Why not 60th St parking lot? Driveway entrance (not “gaping hole” like MSI.
    • 60th St is privately owned, not offered to OPC.
    • Re: driveway like MSI – want to prioritize community over visitor convenience, make the streets livelier. Obamas want to “activate” the streets near the OPC.
  • Buses park on Hayes Drive now, but won’t be able to if this goes through.
    • Looking into a full solution, for MSI buses and for OPC buses.
  • Economic development – 1) Remote parking would help. 2) Will OPC and garage be private or publicly available? For-profit entity?
    • For-profit, owned by Foundation.
  • Why encourage driving?

Midway Plaisance Master Plan

The Midway Plaisance Master Plan was conceptualized in coordination with the Chicago Park District, the University of Chicago, and community members in 1999.  Some elements of this plan have been realized, while others were placed on hold.  The plan received a Merit Award in 2000 from the Illinois Chapter American Society of Landscape Architects.

The Master Plan is a formal record of the community’s hopes for its park along with those of other significant stakeholders (the university and the park district).  It was incorporated into the Chicago Park District’s Framework Plan for the Midway Plaisance Park in 2000. Both plans are below.

mpac – Midway Plaisance Master Plan 1999

Midway Plaisance – Chicago Park District Framework Plan 2000

Obama Presidential Center attends MPAC Meeting – 8/9/17

Thank you to Chris Brooks and Brian Sleet who attended the Midway Plaisance Advisory Council’s (MPAC) August meeting as respresentatives of the Obama Presidential Center (OPC).  Thank you also to representatives from the 5th Ward Alderman’s Office – Lanita Ross, and from the Chicago Park District – Heather Gleason, who attended the meeting.  CDOT’s attendance was requested by MPAC, unfortunately no CDOT repesentatives were in attendance.  However, CDOT is holding two community meetings on 8/23 and 8/24 at the South Shore Cultural Center, 4-8pm, regarding transportation and the OPC.

MPAC members and other community members asked questions and shared positive and negative feedback on the OPC plans that have been shared so far.  Full notes from the meeting are below.

**********************************************

MPAC Meeting – Obama Presidential Center

8/9/17, 6-7:30pm

IN ATTENDANCE:

* ~15 Community Members, including MPAC leadership: Bronwyn Nichols-Lodato (MPAC President), Donald McGruder (MPAC Vice-President), Radiah Smith-Donald (MPAC Treasurer/Secretary)

*City representatives: Lanita Ross (5th Ward Alderman’s Office), Heather Gleason (Chicago Park District)

*Representatives from Obama Presidential Center (OPC): Chris Brooks, Brian Sleet

*Hyde Park Herald Reporter: Tonia Hill

 

NOTES

Issue Raised: Traffic Concerns: Closing Cornell

  • Why not build bridges across Cornell?
  • Widening Hayes will mean Jackson Park is still disconnected

OPC Response: Traffic & Cornell

  • CDOT will provide analyses
  • Considered bridges, but felt that closing Cornell and connecting the park there was more in keeping with the ‘park vision’
  • Asked for suggestions re: independent, trustworthy analyses

 

Issue Raised: Traffic Concerns: Managing Visitor Traffic

  • How much additional traffic is expected? -Traffic study needed by independent source
  • Flow in & out of parking
  • Impact on HP High School and kids crossing Stony Island, etc

OPC Response: Traffic Concerns: Managing Visitor Traffic

  • With ‘revitalization’ there will be increased traffic, not sure how much

 

Issue Raised: Parking Lot on Midway

  • Green space – Not a wasteland. Plans made within the community to enhance and maintain the park, e.g.,
    • 1999 Master Plan developed through community, UofC, and CPD collaboration; work not completed due to $$, not due to complaints
    • MPAC recently awarded a grant to be used to beautify area along Stony Island where the
  • Soccer field (currently used for youth soccer, large enough for adult soccer if drainage was addressed)
  • Women’s Bench Memorial
  • Other parking options already in place nearby, why not build on these?

OPC response: Parking Lot on Midway

  • Please share Master Plan including children’s garden plans with OPC

 

Issue Raised: Connectivity of Parks

  • Closing Cornell connects different sections of Jackson Park, but does this lead to the Midway Plaisance and Washington Park feeling less connected, especially as traffic shifts to Stony and runs between them?
  • Parking lot structure near the intersection of Midway & Jackson Parks would disconnect Midway from Jackson.
  • Concrete ideas for enhancing connectivity?

OPC response: Connectivity of Parks

  • Aware of South Parks vision, interested in maintaining this.
  • Want to link Obama Library with DuSable Museum and Oriental Institute.

 

Issue Raised: Transparency

  • No sharing of thought process – other ideas that were considered and why they were put aside
  • What is the timeline? Community meeting dates?
  • Independent checks & balances.
    • Concern raised that UofC and City of Chicago are not sufficiently critical in their “independent” analyses
    • Concern raised that the Chicago Plan Commission will not rigorously evaluate proposed plan, which could work against the best interests of preserving the beauty and safety of the Midway
  • Use website to share more info, including links to other organizations that are involved

OPC Response: Transparency

  • Trying to meet with the community
  • Plan to go through the official process in the fall – send plan to Chicago Plan Commission
  • Will communicate meeting dates to MPAC President (Bronwyn Nichols-Lodato)
  • No intention to withhold information, but wary of stirring up trouble by presenting incomplete information
  • The website is global, not clear it’s the best way to share Chicago-specific info like soil sample results or street closure debates

 

Issue Raised: Community Feedback

  • Lack of trust that feedback is being genuinely considered
  • When official proposal is put forward, will there be sufficient time and opportunity for community response, and for that response to be considered?

OPC Response: Community Feedback

  • Asked those in attendance: How to gain trust?
  • Not a victory if it gets built and the community hates it
  • Eager for feedback – want people to know they will be heard; looking for great ideas

 

Issue Raised: Impact on Midway

  • What is currently planned for the Midway?
  • Connectivity of Parks – Midway and Washington will feel more cordoned off
  • Any plans to enhance connectivity between parks – improve pathways, historical signage, etc

OPC Response: Impact on Midway

  • Plans include: possible parking lot, drop-off for buses, better Metra station
  • Connectivity of Parks – aware and interested in the South Parks vision, want connectivity

 

Issue Raised: Jackson Park concerns (mentioned, but not addressed at this meeting)

  • Building shadows, impact on wildlife
  • Would like a new track built before the current one is demolished

 

Next Steps include:

  • Re: Traffic (closing Cornell & visitor impact) – Traffic study needs to be completed by independent source
  • Re: Parking Lot, Impact on Midway & Park Connectivity – MPAC will share Master Plan so OPC has this information going forward
  • Re: Transparency & Community Feedback – MPAC extended an invitation to OPC to attend upcoming meetings; time will be included in the agenda to share updates.

 

Park District representative comments:

  • Please send feedback to the park district – CPD wants to know.
  • Definitely care about connectivity of parks.
  • Upcoming community meetings: 9/21/17 and 9/25/17 at South Shore Cultural Center (meetings will have same agenda, there are two dates to try to allow for broader attendance)

 

Issues raised in previous meetings that were not discussed

  • Without CDOT in attendance, many concerning questions about traffic and safety went unanswered/partially addressed. Direct communication between CDOT and community members is critical.
  • Impact on neighborhood safety (due to increased visitor presence)
  • Circle garden – don’t want this gem replaced (according to some older maps, this is part of the Midway)
  • MPAC recently received grant to plant hundreds of bulbs on the train track hillsides this fall, and has been reaching out to park district re: rain garden on the Stony Island field to help with drainage
  • How best to sustain the vitality and beauty of the Midway for the community?
  • Possible benefits to the Midway?