Point home. Point Latest. August-September 2005.

Summer 2005: the Jackson Amendment and IHPA/Chicago Park District accord with reactions

No. 17 in the 2003-2005 Promontory Point series

This page is presented by Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, its Parks Committee and its website www.hydepark.org

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2003-5 Point Series index

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Mtg. dates-Sept. 15!
To background on recent news-new plan of IHPA/CPD- Task Force says it doesn't meet standard, Ald. Hairston: Process legitimate; Rep. Jackson's preservation language leaving no wiggle room passes House, up to Obama. Political pressures intense. Public meeting sees vigorous objection but agencies press forward.
HPKCC letters to Park District, IHPA, representatives

August-Sept page gives report on the Sept. 15 meeting, statements and editorials by Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference

HPKCC Conference Reporter Summer 2005 feature commentary by Gary Ossewaarde and website homepage editorial (since taken down) are in August_05 page. The article was cited and quoted in the September 14 Herald editorial.

September 15 meeting announcement


View city rendering of its plan in http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com
August 2005 Point- HPKCC's position on the latest plan
The Point home with sub page and full outside links navigator.

(To Promontory Point Park

Point Feedback: comments and essays on the Point for posting
site incl. plans:
City/Dept. of Environment site with city plans, updates
Peter Rossi contact peter.rossi@gsb.uchicago.edu
Point Wkg Group (Mediator's) website: http://thepoint.invisibleinstitute.com
Landmark and Preservation status (incl. March 24 Landmark Pres Council of Illinois listing)
The huge inflow of letters to the Herald are cached in www.hpherald.com/pointletters022504.pdf
Alderman Hairston's email. To Alderman's website- find City Council and scroll to name
Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr.: Contact Rick Bryant
Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
The Final Report of Mediator Jamie Kalven and assisting engineer Wayne Brunzel is on the Invisible Institute website (all 32 pages). To page with main parts of text. Highlights of the report are here, with what followed after.

Mid-2003-2005 Series:

1: July 13 Task Force Preservation and Access Plan text

2: Reports and text, views, links to view plans
3: City counter/compromise plan, reinstated January 04
4: September 10 public briefing and summary
5: Reports of the Mediator of the Working Group meetings and process disc/complaints

6: Reports and Appeals March-December 2003
7: Reports, Appeals, Press from Jan.-Feb. breakdown period, incl. Mediator's Statement
8: Point dispute-statements-coverage-Rossi letter late Feb./March 2004
9: The March 9 summit and costing tasks to lead to final working group report due April 15
10: Listing on the '10 Most Endangered' list; disputes over plans and 1994 Memorandum and defenses of the rival plans
11: Latest Promontory Point news
12: From the Mediator's Final Report May 2004

13: About, Reactions to the Mediator's Report
14: Reactions to the ad hoc group; during the period of its (non) meetings, June-August 2004, other actions including by Rep. Jackson, Il. Hist. Pres. Agency
15: Late 2004, including Mediator's Final Report with a 3rd option
16: 2005 through June

17: Summer 2005-re Jackson Amendment and IHPA/CPD accord [This page]
18: August-September: Sept. Point meeting, docs and HPKCC perspective

Latest page and news

(to pdf of IHPA letter of authority to proceed to Point reconstr. sponsors), (to pdf of National Trust letter to Senator Obama-ignore any script processing error and scroll down to text.)Text v.


Meetings and presentations

Summer 2005 News

More other views

Frances Vandervoort wrote in the September 7 Herald:

The Herald editorial gave its view, September 7, ahead of the September 15 meeting.


An analysis and view of where the sides stand in summer, 2005, from the perspective of their preferred designs.

Gary Ossewaarde

First let me say that the differences between the design approach of the City and the Task Force are in my observation qualitative rather than just involving degrees of difference or how to combine preferences. Since politics is both negotiation and the art of the possible, this will make it difficult to find a solution that is true to preserving our highly treasured Point and satisfies most parties. I think the current city-IHPA plan shows what happens when one says, “let’s do both sides’ plans.”

I cannot presume to speak for the Community Task Force for Promontory Point. However, I checked with a member of its executive committee to make sure that by “preservation” treatment they would still be interested in something like the preservation and access plan of engineers Heitzman and Tjadden, which the Task Force presented in July 2003 to the City and from which they negotiated (likely making some concessions) during the Mediation presided over by Jamie Kalven.

No agreed-upon plan or statement of points of agreement came out of the Mediation, terminated in January 2004. However, Kalven and engineer Wayne Brunzell issued a final report, which described a simplified compromise design that they used to test preservation feasibility and cost. Without being called a recommendation, it in effect was their suggested template for the parties to work from. The Task Force was pleased with this recommendation as a way to move forward, but Alderman Hairston did not (at least publicly) embrace it, and the city and Corps dismissed it.

Treating the July 2003 Task Force concept and the design in the Mediator’s final report as if they represent the Task Force position, and thinking it useless to consider any ideas not evaluated and presented by engineers, I will briefly compare these with the city/IHPA approved plan and present considerations. Then I will go into some more detail. Following that are attachments with drawings and the executive summary and justification from the 2003 preservation/access plan (not presented here, but in #1 and #2 of the "Current Series"-see at top).

(I should note that the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference by resolution is sticking for now with what it would like to see—no section of the point replaced, but rather repaired or reconstructed, and in a way that preserves rather than mars its beauty, historic integrity, and usefulness to visitors. There was engineering support for this position in Frank Galvin’s reports of late 2002-2003. Frankly, I think most of the active members of the Task Force and the large majority of the community feel the same way. But we have to deal with both feasibility and political realties and frankly what matters to most is the look and feel, not what’s underneath.

The City plan as modified by IHPA, compared with the 2003 (Heitzman) and 2004 (Kalven-Brunzell Figure 1) alternatives

The city plan and the mediator’s 2004 plan treated the whole revetment alike for feasibility and costing, but the 2004 plan asked consideration for minimum treatment of the south and east sides (only armoring the latter). The 2003 plan treated each sector (about 6) differently—and this gained some support during negotiations. All would presumably now agree that there will be at least 2 and up to 4 treatments. A huge difference remains on whether to treat the east and north two thirds all the same way and how to treat them. For engineering, the 2004 plan used the more simple of the city plan structural options and a different construction method similar to the 2003: remove-fix the base-reset-sheetwall. It would also only use single rows of stones for all four steps. The city plan completely removes and builds anew. (Since the plan now is to build in the same footprint, one cannot completely compare construction in the 2003 and 2004 plans).

The biggest difference as to look and feel is that the city plan would have concrete up to the last two steps (vertical step faces “molded” to look like stone blocks), with the top two steps existing limestone blocks (whether with a concrete base is unknown to me.)

The new city plan will keep and repair in place c.30% of the revetment, on the south face. This can have toe-stone in front if it’s visual impact is minimized. Regardless of whether that will create water access and swimming-wading problems, the 2003 and 2004 alternatives also envisioned some protection in front of the present promenade, whether toe stone/stone blocks or sheet wall or both. The 2004 plan for simplicity assumed complete rebuilding of the south side but sought consideration for just repairing it. But all parties now presumably would be on the same page for this part of the Point. The accessibility path for this sector will have to be at the top, but presumably is not to interfere with the Caldwell landscape. Whether, how, and where the access path would be joined to the promenade is to be settled later. Ease of access to the promenade at the join with the new sea buffer at the 57th St. beach needs consideration also.
The rest of the Point (c. 70%) would be treated in the city plan as “new construction.” IPHA’s requirements that the revetment start where the current starts and now only be as wide as the current is intended to “minimize impacts” (!) per the MOA. This makes comparison among older plans difficult.

The 2003 and 2004 plans seek to only “armor” the existing 1960s east side “coffins” promenade and reset the limestone steps.

For the north part, about 40%, the city seeks to completely replace the current structure and build a new one, showing toe stone up to the top of sheet steel, a concrete
promenade (now presumably narrowed to keep the same overall revetment width although the Corps standards are said to require the 26’ width) and two concrete steps (vertical surfaces shaped like existing limestone blocks) with two steps of limestone block on top. The 2003 and 2004 plans use different structures, have all four steps of mostly existing limestone blocks, and incorporate varying amounts of limestone block into mainly the outer side of the promenade (the later conceded to be of concrete and including a smooth accessibility path). Stone on the outside edge of the promenade and set on top of the sheet steel is conceded to be problematic. 2003 has elaborate, safety-concerned provisions for access to the promenade and water for swimming and for disabled experience—more than in the city plan- a plan the city justifies as necessary in part to provide universal access. The Task Force’s degree of commitment to at least some of these access features is uncertain. The 2004 mediator’s test design leaves these details out. It is for this large sector that the community’s desire for maximum or all limestone seems deep and qualitative. There is also concern, often expressed to me, by residents that in all these plans the steps be climbable, at least in places.

In short, the differences grow as one goes from south to north.

Key features of the 2003 Heitzman-Tjadden plan

South and east are just repaired and/or armored.
North has 4 or 5 steps of limestone and a promenade set on a reinforced concrete slab with a concrete accessibility path bracketed by limestone blocks.
Sets of accessible ramps and stairs are provided at the north, east, and south.
This plan has set limestone blocks, not toe stone into the water at several places.
Sheet steel will be hidden in shallow areas by blocks or toe stone and in deeper areas by wooden piles, like the original look of the revetment.
The method is that of the 1930s, with cranes and pile drivers-pull blocks, compact, reset, drive sheetwall. Little storage would be necessary. Caldwell’s landscape is to be restored.

2004 Mediator Kalven-Engineer Brunzell final report highlights

It concludes that a spectrum of preservation-based approaches are feasible, meet the city’s criteria, and can cost less than the city plan, even with a contingent for maintenance. It has four limestone steps and a concrete promenade with limestone edge. Undetermined: whether there can be limestone at the edge, degree of access desirable or possible, whether the coffin section can be just armored, and promenade width.
At the end of mediation, both sides accepted reinforced concrete structure and differed on how much limestone and in what configuration. Both sides were moving toward acceptance of the value of preservation- a weaving of place, memory, and relationship- and the value of responsible use of public dollars. Top

Herald Sept. 7 feature on plan differences over disability access

Feuding rehab plans debate disability access. By Tedd Carrison

Eve Bratton pushes her elderly mother's wheelchair along the pedway of Promo tory Point on a bright, August afternoon. Though she lives in Fort Wayne, Ind., Bratton said she comes to Hyde Park four or five time sa year. Each visit, she and her mother, a nearby Montgomery Place resident, meander along the top of the limestone revetments, looking out at the lakefront. The steep grades and bumpy surfaces of the stone steps prevent the pair from getting near the water and they remain above the rocks, on the smooth, pavement path.

The Point's revetment work was completed in the 1930s, when handicapped accessibility standards hardly glinted an engineer's eye. Today, canes, crutches and walkers may teeter through limited lake-side sections an water-front wheelchair access is virtually non-existent.

Now, a pending restoration of the Depression-era lakewall breaths life and debate into equal-access as the city offers the issue as a reason to alter the 68-year-old Hyde Park fixture.

In July, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency approved a Chicago Park District plan to rehab the Point. Many community members criticized the plan, claiming the demolition and concrete-intensive construction would compromise the look, function and historical integrity of the popular Burnham Park peninsula. The city reasoned a concrete overhaul was necessary n the park's northern and eastern edges because of severe structural damage and accessibility mandates.

John McGovern is the Executive Director of the Northern Suburban Special Recreation Association and served on the federal access board that wrote guidelines for the Americans with Disabilities Act. Two years ago, he worked with residents dissatisfied with the city plan and determined that although proper accessibility could be provided with a predominantly limestone design, it comes with a price.

"Possible is a big word," said McGovern. "I'd say possibly you don't have to go to concrete but [with] the limestone blocks that are currently out there it would be very difficult to reproduce those and maintain them."

McGovern said the Point is an especially complicated project because engineers have to balance economy and effectiveness with polish and preservation.

Rob Rejman, the park district project manager for the Point's rehab, said the city's current plan "proves to be the best balance between access, preservation and structural longevity." He said the plan provide universal access to the promenade through a series of ramps, allowing wheelchairs up to the waterfront, and does so in a "similar [way] to what the original design was in a limestone setting."

But architect Frank Heitzman, a former 10-year member of the advisory committee on persons with disabilities, disagrees. In 2003, under the accessibility guidance of McGovern and the advice of disabled Hyde Parkers, Heitzman drafted a plan that he said proves complete limestone restoration is not only feasible but advantageous.

Dubbed the "community plan," Heitzman's drawings were commissioned by the Community Task Force for Promontory Point, a local group of residents and preservationists fighting for limestone.

Heitzman said his plan provided access features that the city's does not, including a raised edge at the lakefront to curb wheelchairs from tipping into the water and two different handicapped- accessible routes--a ramp that leads up th step-stones to the park's perimeter path and broad stairs for Point users with walkers or canes who cannot navigate ramps easily.

He said each access component in the community plan meets or exceeds the Americans with Disabilities Act standards and believes its initial cost would be roughly $17 million compared with the city's projected $17 million. He also emphasized that it allows swimmers access to water on every side of th Point. The city plan has designated only the south side for sanctioned swimming.

As for McGovern's limestone criticisms, Heitzman said they are accounted for in the community plan. "I agree with [McGovern] and we have always promoted that idea," said Heitzman. "There is as big difference between the concrete that the city is proposing an the concrete in the community plan."

He said the five-foot wide ramps and walkways in the community plan would be made of concrete but hidden by the limestone blocks surrounding it. He explained it will provide a nearly identical look to Alfred Caldwell's original design but with modern amenities and construction. He also denied higher maintenance costs, saying no significant upkeep has been performed on the current Point limestone since 1964. he argues concrete often requires more maintenance than limestone because the steel supports tend to rust and deteriorate.

Rejman disputes the feasibility of Heitzman's plan, but said the city has not ignored it entirely. "We looked carefully at that proposal and we have taken a lot of cues from that plan," said Rejman, explaining the city intends to "take the spirit of the plans and put them into the realm of reality."

He argued that "Heitzman's plan shows an accessible pathway, but is a relatively narrow one along the promenade and it doesn't take you to the water's edge. [The park district] plan is similar but will work structurally and provides more choice for accessible pathways and lake conditions."

Rejman also cited "several engineering problems" with Heitzman's plan but did not elaborate.

On the city's North Side, revetment work similar to what is proposed forth Point was completed in 1999. Charlotte Newfeld of the Belmont Harbor Neighbors said "accessibility is what it's not." She said the park district officials were "caught with their pants down," initially providing little disabled access and retrofitting the current ramps and railing only after residents complained to U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowski (D-9). Additionally, Newfeld said swimming is nearly impossible from the tiered concrete, the ramps are too steeply pitched and the 18-inch steps to the water can be difficult even for able-bodies climbers.

"These ar not for people in wheelchairs," said Newfeld. "You have to be a goat to go up and down."

Rejman denied that accessibility was overlooked on the North Side. "I don't think there has been more of a stress on accessibility for this project than any other," he said.

The park district will present its plans to the community on Sept. 15, 6 p.m. at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Dr. A shuttle to the meeting is scheduled to leave from the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S Kenwood Ave., at 5:30 pm.



Reference: The Memorandum of Agreement of 1993, governing the Point


WHEREAS, the Chicago District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has determined that the Illinois Shoreline Erosion Interim 3 Project will have an effect upon historic properties included in and eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places , and

WHERAS, The Corps has consulted with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (Council) and the Illinois State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) pursuant to 36 CPR Part 800, regulations implementing Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (16 U.S.c. 470f); and

WHERAS, the Chicago Park District and the City of Chicago participated in the consultation and have been invited to concur in this Memorandum of Agreement:

NOW, THEREFORE, the Corps, the City, the Park District, the Council and the SHPO agree that the undertaking shall be implemented in accordance with the following stipulations in order to take into account the effect of the undertaking on historic properties


The Corps will ensure that the following measures are carried out:

1. The Corps will carry out the construction and rehabilitation of step-stone revetment along five (5) reaches of the Lake Michigan shoreline within the City of Chicago over a fifteen (15) year period as outlined in Illinois Shoreline Erosion/Lake Michigan/Storm Damage Reduction--Interim III Wilmette to Illinois-Indiana State Line, U.S. army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District, December,1992.

2. The Corps agrees to consult with the SHPO during the engineering for each reach, prior to construction to identify those properties on or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places and possible project effects on those properties.

a. Where the effect consists of the repair or reconstruction of contributing step stone revetment, the Corps shall consult with the SHPO, the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District to ensure that the design and construction of the revetment will match the existing in accordance with the recommendations of the Secretary of the Interior's "Standards and Guidelines for Archeology and Historic Preservation".

b. Where the effect consists of new construction of step stone revetment within or adjacent to identified historic properties, the Corps shall consult with the SHPO, the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District to ensure that the new construction is designed and constructed to minimize impacts to the historic property.

3. The Corps shall submit a written report to the City of Chicago, Chicago Park District, Illinois SHPO and the Council annually summarizing the actions taken to comply with the terms of this Agreement. The first report will be due April 1993 and subsequent report will be submitted each January thereafter.

Execution of the Memorandum of Agreement by the Corps, the Illinois SHPO, and the Council, and implementation of its terms, evidence that the Corps has afforded the Council an opportunity to comment on the undertaking and its effects on historic properties, and that the Corps has taken in to account the effects of the undertaking on historic properties.