Clear-cutting 640 Jackson Park trees makes a mockery of Chicago motto ‘City in a Garden’

The planned tree destruction and Obama Presidential Center construction will evict small wildlife, including resident birds.

SHARE Clear-cutting 640 Jackson Park trees makes a mockery of Chicago motto ‘City in a Garden’

A 2018 rendering of the planned Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park.

Obama Presidential Center

Your June 22 editorial presents a Chicago tragedy. It is indefensible for the city to have, on average, 200 fewer trees in each of the city’s 50 wards each year since 2010.

If the Obama Foundation and Mayor Lori Lightfoot get their way, Chicago’s 5th Ward will break even that abysmal record. Their plan is to clear-cut 640 Jackson Park trees to construct the Obama Presidential Center.

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According to a 2018 inventory of the site by Bartlett Tree Experts, the 640 trees on 19.3 acres have a total value of $3,512,857.26. Bartlett estimates that the trees store 203.8 tons of carbon, remove 5.8 tons of carbon from the air per year, remove 341.5 pounds of air pollution per year, have an air pollution removal value of $946 per year, have an avoided rainwater runoff amount of 9,591 cubic feet per year, and an avoided runoff value of $641 per year.

And the grandeur of the trees is irreplaceable.

The planned tree destruction and Obama Presidential Center construction will evict small wildlife, including resident birds. Its 23-story tower will occupy a currently building-free migratory bird flight path, which inevitably will become a new source of migratory bird deaths.

The desecration of the magnificent park is a gratuitous insult to the park’s eminent designer, Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of American landscape architecture. An anti-slavery advocate and abolitionist, Olmsted is credited with helping dissuade England from joining the South in the Civil War. His “The Cotton Kingdom” spoke powerfully and convincingly against slavery.

To truly restore Chicago ‘s motto — and not rely on future advisory committees — the Obama Foundation and Mayor Lightfoot must remember that only God can make a tree, and take action now to save these 640 irreplaceable trees by selecting an alternative non-park site for the Obama Presidential Library. 

Charlotte Adelman, Wilmette

Police better reform themselves

Police departments will always oppose any kind of reform pushed by civilians. To be a police officer is to be a member of a brotherhood, and so it’s always been.

The truth is, though, that most people have no idea what a police officer sees and has to deal with every single day. Are there bad police officers? Yes, as we have seen. But most police officers are there to protect and serve, and sometimes they have to be aggressive to do the job. They deal with rapists, armed robbers and killers. 

At the same time, the police had better start policing them themselves, brotherhood or not. There can be no more keeping quiet when another officer is out of line or bad. 

I don’t believe that a large percentage of the police are racist, but they do get jaded and hard because they deal with so many thugs and criminals.

If only one of the other officers on the scene when George Floyd was arrested had said, “Hey, get off of his neck, he’s having a hard time breathing.” If only one other officer had pulled his fellow officer off Floyd. But nobody did.

The police, who deserve our respect for the job they do, had better police themselves or someone else will.

Connie Orland, Plainfield

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