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Letter and list of concerns to be studied sent by HPKCC to Mayor Daley and the Chicago Olympic Committee Febrary 22, 2007

Sent to Mayor Daley, Chicago 2016 Committee, CC Tim Mitchell of CP District, Ald. Preckwinkle and Hairston, Washington and Jackson Park councils. Chicago Park District General Superinendent and CEO Timothy Mitchell has agreed to meet with HPKCC spokespersons; a meeting is being arranged.

February 25, 2007

The Honorable Richard M. Daley, Mayor
Chicago City Hall
121 N. LaSalle Street, 5th Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60602

Dear Mayor Daley:

The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference would like to offer you and the Chicago Olympic Bid Committee a set of concerns that we feel need thorough study to ensure a successful Olympics bid for the City of Chicago, taking advantage of opportunities and avoiding pitfalls.

We were disappointed that decisions were made with a speed that did not allow careful consultation with many local officials and various community groups. We hope and expect that changes made in consultation with the Washington Park Advisory Council augur a broadened, continuous consultative process for the Games, and we hope to be a constructive part of that process.

One key concern is why the decision to site key facilities in parks was not accompanied by an explanation as to why non-park vacant areas in need of development were not considered ahead of parks. This overlooked the fact that parks are already dedicated to public use and are not just land banks. Proposed venues in Washington Park and Jackson Park are heavily used, close to sensitive natural areas, and already have parking, traffic, and crowd problems.

In our hope that planning and execution take account of the long-term impact on South Side communities and parks, we have attached our questions about communication with neighborhoods, impact on parks and the environment, traffic and access, potential neighborhood redevelopments, crowd and amenities management, and impact on proximate institutions and facilities.

It is important for local neighborhood groups to show enthusiastic support for this endeavor, if Chicago is going to succeed in its efforts to host the 2016 Olympics. HPKCC and the rest of Hyde Park will be in a better position to show that support when these concerns are addressed.

With best regards,

George W. Rumsey, President,
and the Board of Directors, HPKCC

Encl. 1
CC: Chicago2016; Tim Mitchell; Ald. Preckwinkle, Ald. Hairston; Park Councils
1513 East 53rd Street · Chicago, Illinois 60615 · (773) 288-8343
Email hpkcc@aol.com http://www.hydepark.org


Date: February 25, 2007
To: Mayor Richard M. Daley and
Chicago2016 Olympic Committee
From: Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference
RE: Concerns, Questions, Topics for Study: Chicago Olympics 2016

Thank you for your attention. We hope for detailed answers to our concerns in writing and perhaps even a visit by someone able to answer our questions at a meeting of the Board of Directors of HPKCC and our Parks Committee. Our board meets first Thursdays of each month at 7 pm; or we could meet at your convenience. Please contact me directly at (773) 955-4455 or email me at rumsey@aol.com.


George W. Rumsey
President and for the Board of Directors

Subject index

1. Public process
2. Impact on parks and park access for the public and major users
3. Some park improvements that could accompany the Games
4. Environmental impacts and studies
5. Traffic, access, and transit concerns and improvements
6. Neighborhood redevelopment potential and impact
7. Site, crowd, mess, amenities, and spillover management
8. Arrangements with and impacts on proximate institutions, facilities
9. Specifics before the Olympics
10. Specifics during the Olympics
11. Specifics after the Olympics

1. What plans are there for public meetings about the Olympics, both citywide and in neighborhoods affected by Olympic venues, by the City and by the Park District?

Specifically, the Olympic Committee and public agencies must involve the communities in a process to determine facilities and residuals (temporary and permanent) in public spaces, accommodation of the preparations and Games, and needed redevelopment in neighborhoods: Washington Park-Grand Boulevard, Kenwood, Hyde Park, Woodlawn, and South Shore. This public process needs to include informational and input meetings with neighborhood and park stakeholder organizations and local institutions.

2. The Olympics must not bring any permanent harm to the parks or their historic templates. Funds must be committed to remove constructed facilities, such as the stadium and different-use fields and structures, and leave only such residuals as are specifically sought and approved by communities. For example, the Olympic Committee says that the soccer fields in Jackson Park will be left “better.” What does this mean?

2a. What will the effects be on park maintenance before, during, and AFTER the games?

2b. Access and continuing use must be ensured for as much of the parks as possible through the Olympic period, to the general public and especially to users of adjacent playing fields. The same or equivalent space must be restored for such uses afterwards. For what period of time will ball teams and other users, particularly baseball, softball and cricket, of the area selected for the stadium and staging have to find alternative locations for their games? Where will athletic activities that take place now in Washington Park be relocated in a way that current teams and players will not have conflicts or diminished ability to play and how will players safely and conveniently get there? How can they fully return after the Olympics if residual facilities take up part of the fields? What about soccer groups in Jackson Park?

3. Funds must be committed to see that parks (especially Washington Park in every part) are fully and historically restored or made better in ways not inconsistent with historic plans or current framework plans. Acceptable improvements could include:

Ø Reducing Morgan Drive to modern standards with separation for pedestrian crossover,
Ø Downsizing local-circulation roadways in the park,
Ø Ensuring that any residual arena or concert venue (where the stadium is sited or elsewhere) does not interfere with the historic flat vista sight lines, preclude return to active uses, or present security problems, but is in accord with community wishes,
Ø Ball field reconstruction and upkeep, lighting, and other community-sought upgrades,
Ø Improving other sections of the parks: Washington Park’s lagoons and Bynum Island, fieldhouse-active recreation area, and paths and Jackson Park paths.

4. What environmental impact studies will be done?

4a. Will this include impact of the groin to be built at 31st in Lake Michigan on currents and sand deposition at the new landforms and beaches at 31st, 39th, and 49th (Morgan Shoals) and at Promontory Point, 57th and 63rd beaches, and on the high number of beach closures (swimming bans) each year at most of these beaches?

4b. How will adverse impact be prevented to the natural areas of Jackson Park including lagoons, Bob-o-link Meadow, and Wooded Island, as well as to bird habitat? How will public access to the natural areas—wanted and unwanted—be affected?

5. What traffic and access-need studies will be done, and what funding sources have been identified to meet the needs?

5a. Transit to the South Side will be needed both before and during the games and provide a great opportunity to promote development and provide for the mobility needs of infilling areas. This should include more rapid transit on the Metra tracks, possibly a service reorganization such as in the “Gray Line” proposal, and improvements needed in any case to the Green Line to allow it to carry up to 80,000 people per day.

5b. How will people get from the Dan Ryan to Washington Park and the neighborhoods between the Ryan and the Lake, both before and during the events? The Committee says CTA services will be upgraded and CTA will provide shuttle. What does this mean? Are there plans to improve this corridor and make the area in general safer, while respecting rights and needs of residents? Plans should include restoring the boulevards that lead to the park (King, Drexel, Garfield, Hyde Park, and Midway) and other needed arterial upgrades. What improvements to roads and adjustments/supplements to CTA routes will be needed if is necessary to close some roads during the Olympics?

5c. How will traffic be regulated during construction and during the Olympics itself? And what will be the overall impact on Hyde Park streets, specifically 47th, 51st, 53rd, 55th, 57th, 59th, Cottage Grove, Midway, north-south roads, and the eastern entryways from Lake Shore Drive and Stony Island? What about roadways west of Washington Park and the roads adjacent to and through Jackson Park and South Shore and Woodlawn that have suffered during Dan Ryan reconstruction?

5d. The Olympic Committee says there will be no parking built. Why? Will there be studies of what parking is available and may be needed? How will parkers be regulated? How will domino effect on parking and gridlock of traffic be prevented, including for the area hospitals? What about parking to handle at least local needs, such as a garage for the Hyde Park business district?

6. What are the plans for redevelopment and general facelift of the entire area from 47th to 63rd and the Dan Ryan to Cottage Grove? How will long-range security be enhanced? How will mixed income and economically vibrant communities be created without displacing current residents and businesses? What are the provisions for ongoing community input and planning? Whose responsibility is financing and through what transparent public-private instruments— with continuing public involvement—will financing and decision-making be put in place?

7. What is the security plan and crowd control scheme for the construction, during the events, and the "take-down" period? How will current gang activity and other problems of the area, and the fact that such an event is a draw for criminal elements be approached?

8. What arrangements have been made with the University of Chicago and how will any increased uses or facilities for the university in the parks be shared or worked out with the communities and park user groups on an ongoing basis? Such agreements should have community approval and be transparent.

8a. Who will run and maintain the residual arena afterward, should it remain, and to whom will it be available? Will it be sufficiently used? When will there be discussion of this particular issue?

8b. What arrangements have been made with, and what will effects there be on other institutions in or adjacent to Washington Park—Provident Hospital, University of Chicago Hospitals, DuSable Museum, Dyett High School, and Dyett Recreational Center (and the pool whose multiple demands for shared use has been an issue in the community)? What about Jackson Park golf, harbors, La Rabida Hospital, and Museum of Science and Industry?

8c. How does the Jones Armory fit into the plans, what will be displaced from it, and what are the long-range plans for its use and restoration/enhancement?

8d. How can the south part of Washington Park, including the Fountain of Time, and its neighbors be involved in the Olympics?

9. Specifics before the Olympics:

(1.) How long will construction take? When will it start?

(2.) Where will the staging areas be, how much space will they take up? How will they be secured?

(3.) The Olympic Bid Committee says there will be no parking. How will parking for construction crews be handled, how and where will it be located and how regulated. How will domino effect on parking and gridlock of traffic be prevented?

(4.) How many people do we anticipate will be in the park and surrounding areas during and for construction and preparations, and for what period of time?

(5.) What footprint and for what length of time will the soccer fields and other parts of Jackson Park be unavailable for use by the public, especially soccer teams?

10. During the Olympics

(1.) How many people will be in Chicago (athletes, entourages, audiences, media, vendors who come from outside city, etc.)? How many in the Hyde Park/Washington Park/Jackson Park area? Are there any places that people will be staying in Hyde Park and in surrounding neighborhoods?

(2.) How will the City/Olympic Committee handle ticket-holders who are camping out? How would camping (ticket holding or not) be controlled, and where would it be permitted?

(3.) What provisions will be made for athletes trying to get across Cottage Grove from the planned Stagg Field change and warm up facilities?

(4.) What will be the main transport approaches into the neighborhoods?

(5.) Why has provision of parking for the stadium events and other venues been rejected? How would shuttles work without gridlock?

(6.) How will adverse effects from having vendors and toilet facilities along Cottage Grove and 51st St. be prevented?

(7.) Where are street closings anticipated? Midway? Cottage Grove? Others? Any plans to close areas to cars?

(8.) How will daily cleaning and trash removal be handled? Who will do it?

(9.) We suggest that The Point and either Midway Plaisance or 55th Street be used in the torch ceremony and run to the stadium. And we suggest that The Fountain of Time would be an awesome place to hold some of the medal ceremonies.

11. After the Olympics

(1.) What is the plan to truly restore Washington Park and the south half of Jackson Park to prime condition after the games?

(2.) Does this include improvement of ball fields, bleachers and lights, and upgrading of the South end of Washington Park, including lagoons and largely fenced-off Bynum Island?

(3.) No residual amphitheater or below or above ground deviation should be considered without hearings and full concurrence by the surrounding communities and must not be a sequestered private-use facility. The 6-foot high berm proposed for the arena must be carefully studied to make sure it does not destroy the level plain of the park or pose a security problem.

(4.) What parts of neighborhood improvement for the games will be kept afterward? Who is financing which parts of redevelopment? How can Washington Park and the Stagg Field area be opened up to more foot traffic along Cottage Grove Avenue as a result of the Olympics?