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Jackson Park planning process was neither premature nor bad form

The grounds being cleared for the construction of The Barack Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park, across from the Hyde Park Academy High School. | Rick Majewski/For the Sun-Times.

The Chicago Sun-Times editorial’s assertion that the Chicago Park District jumped the starter’s pistol in Jackson Park disregards the public process leading to the construction of the new track and field.

The Chicago Park District held numerous public hearings over the past year to gather community input and roll out plans to relocate the Jackson Park track and field. In fact, the District held nine public meetings as part of the South Lakefront Planning Process during which the project was discussed. The Park District also attended additional meetings organized by community stakeholders to keep residents informed of the projects timeline.

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During these meetings, representatives restated plans to complete the track and field in time to accommodate the local schools’ fall sports schedules. At no time did the Park District representatives indicate the project would be delayed, as evidenced by the Lakefront Protection application filed in January and approved in May, giving the district authority to proceed. Prior to filing the application, the district also mailed notices to all property owners within 500 feet of the site.

As recently as April 11, Park District representatives presented information about the Jackson Park track and field, including a schedule to start construction this summer. Plans for the project were heard and approved by the Chicago Plan Commission and documents relating to the track and field, including a tree removal diagram were posted on the City’s website in May. Contrary to the Sun-Times accusations, the Chicago Park District is not violating any federal processes, as this is a local project and is not subject to federal review.

Despite the Editorial Board’s criticism, this process is neither premature nor bad form. The Chicago Park District operated transparently and in a manner that demonstrates responsibility and respect for the community being served.

Heather Gleason,

director of planning and construction, Chicago Park District

Do your homework

Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) needs to do his homework [“Alderman demands city stop letting rescue groups ‘cherry-pick’ purebred dogs,” news story, Aug. 13]. His reference to breed rescue groups as “boutique” and “cherry pickers” suggests that we select the youngest and healthiest that shelters have to offer. Nothing could be further from the truth. My “adoptable dogs” (many of whom were pulled from shelters) include a 16-year-old, two 13-year-olds who are bonded and cannot be separated, and a 10 year old with significant health issues. The youngest dog in my adoption program is 6 years old and has mammary cancer. We have spent thousands of dollars on routine vetting, surgeries and dentals for these four dogs alone and are just a few of the more than 60 dogs we have taken in year-to-date. Our intakes will almost certainly reach 100 before 2018 comes to a close.

Beyond that, every one of our volunteers knows, owns and loves the breed. We understand their strengths, challenges and health issues. That knowledge allows us to make informed adoption decisions that result in successful, lifelong matches. It would be unrealistic to think that a busy, overwrought city shelter would have the manpower and resources to do the same.

Shell Lewis, Midwest Placement Director/Cairn Rescue USA, Geneva

Begging to differ

I differ with many aspects of the “Trains and buses come first, but don’t put a hold on better roads” editorial in the Aug. 14 Sun-Times.

People and their safety, come before bikes, cars, buses, trains & roads. Metropolitan planning appears to be inadequate, as over-development has been allowed to proceed downtown, and recently around Wrigley Field. Also, Lincoln Yards is being considered along the Chicago River’s North Branch.

Streets and transportation in these areas were never meant to handle this volume, and can’t be expanded. Further aggravating the situation are bike lanes. In this matter, we can’t have our cake and eat it too, noting that a female biker was killed last week near downtown. Regarding the L, I feel that the fly-over north of Belmont is needless spending, only resulting in a few-minute delay for trains during the rush hours.

Finally, Chicago should pay closer attention to street conditions served by major CTA bus routes, as bumpy rides are uncomfortable and result in excess equipment repair.

Fred J. Wittenberg, Evanston


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Just a reality TV star

What the hell is an Omarosa, and why do her rantings deserve a whole page in the Sun-Times?

From what the article says she is nothing but a reality TV star and not a medical doctor qualified to determine whether anyone is “unhinged,” as she states about Trump. He may very well be “unhinged,” but it would seem the Sun-Times would count on someone with a clue (i.e., a doctor) to determine his mental state.

Jim Guthrie, North Aurora