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Help the environment, save Jackson Park’s trees and pick new Obama Center site

Choosing an already accessible site is fiscally and environmentally smarter than taxing Illinois residents millions of dollars to destroy irreplaceable trees.

Obama Presidential Center rendering.
Obama Foundation

In the interest of fiscal and environmental responsibility, Mayor Lori Lightfoot should declare Jackson Park off-limits to construction and spare the hundreds of historic trees slated for clear-cutting.

Trees help Chicago offset global warming.

Recent United Nations and Science reports prioritize massive tree planting to absorb and sequester CO2. Destroying Jackson Park’s mature trees releases stored CO2 into the atmosphere. Saving them saves Illinois taxpayers $199 million.

Renowned landscaper, Frederick Law Olmsted designed Jackson Park’s “broad spaces of greensward, broken occasionally by groves of trees” to provide Chicagoans “peacefulness of nature.”

An anti-slavery advocate and abolitionist, Olmsted believed the restorative value of landscape, especially in urban environments benefited everyone, regardless of economic circumstances.

Few knew it, but last year’s state budget — without mentioning the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) — hid $199 million in taxes to subsidize the Obama Foundation’s demand for infrastructure and roadwork needed to make Jackson Park accessible.

Building the OPC in a South Side neighborhood replaces unused buildings and empty lots, and facilitates business development. Choosing an already accessible location is infinitely fiscally and environmentally smarter than taxing Illinois residents millions of dollars to destroy irreplaceable Jackson Park trees.

Keeping the OPC in Jackson Park requires the city to pay lawyers to counter the appeal from the June 2019 dismissal (by a federal judge appointed by President Barack Obama) of the case I filed along with Protect Our Parks, Inc. It requires Chicago taxpayers to fund city handling of Jackson Park-related federal reviews and state taxpayers to pay $199 million for discretionary infrastructure.

Global warming makes it past time for Lightfoot to help the Obama Foundation select a non-park OPC location.

Charlotte Adelman
Co-author of “The Midwestern Native Garden”; “Midwestern Native Shrubs and Trees”; “Prairie Directory of North America”; “Prairie Directory of North America 2nd Edition”.

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Is America still perceived as a great country?

We Americans tout the United States as the greatest country on earth.

But I have to ask, would the government of such a country passively accept more than 250 mass shootings already this year, the latest in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio?

Would its Senate deliberately ignore a reasonable House-passed bill ensuring background checks for gun purchases?

Would it condone the unrestricted sale of assault rifles used in mass killings?

Would it complacently accept unrelenting racism, hatred and white supremacy spewing from its chief executive that most assuredly spawned much of the deplorable record number of mass shootings?

A truly great country would in no way tolerate regular whole scale slaughter of its citizens.

A great country would immediately legislate to keep assault weapons out of the hands of people who have no business possessing them, would rightfully expect and strongly demand that its president demonstrate common decency and compassion for all individuals.

Certainly, America once used to be a great country like that but, I have to ask, with a heavy heart, is it any longer?

Tom Stapleton, Glendale, California