Creating ‘Din City’ anywhere along Chicago River is wrong move

As part of the Bally’s casino plan, the wholesale adoption of outdoor entertainment venues on a large scale flies in the face of well-thought-out guidelines concerning Chicago River development.

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Rendering of the proposed Bally’s casino in the River West neighborhood.

Rendering of the proposed Bally’s casino in the River West neighborhood along the Chicago River.

Provided

Friends of the Chicago River wholeheartedly agrees with the recent Sun-Times editorial that “Chicago shouldn’t rush to become Din City.”

We are committed to work with the city and Bally’s to help create the greenest, river-friendliest casino in the world. However, we are dismayed that Chicago also seeks to create an unrestricted outdoor entertainment venue liquor license that would upend years of thoughtful planning for the Chicago River as a protected, natural corridor and community asset. The city should consider outdoor entertainment licenses along the river on a case-by-case basis, which would permit some outdoor events.

As the editorial correctly notes, establishing a blanket license for open-air entertainment venues citywide would violate core components of the Chicago River Design Guidelines which call for a connected, peaceful greenway of natural habitats and public parks, as a natural contrast to the urban environment.

The wholesale adoption of outdoor entertainment venues on a large scale flies in the face of these well-thought-out guidelines, developed over many years with community involvement.

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Because the proposed casino, and other new venues such as the Morton Salt Shed, are prominently located on a few remaining large scale river-edge sites, we emphasize the importance of adhering to these river-sensitive design guidelines.The casino, and all large-scale developments along the riverfront, must be models of sustainable design that incorporate a restored, natural, and accessible riverfront.

What we need most are design and policy approaches that embrace the river as a natural resource for people and wildlife, rather than a water feature to be exploited for entertainment.

We will push for the final casino design to prioritize nature-focused improvements to the river’s edge, including substantial neighborhood-scale public parks directly along the river with dense landscaped edges; microhabitats throughout the site; site planning with nature-based stormwater solutions; and protections for migratory birds and other wildlife. We are opposed to any ordinance that fails to recognize the river as an ecological and recreational resource.

We respectfully challenge the city and Bally’s to drive sustainable innovation for this first downtown casino in a major U.S. city, and to set an example of the greenest and most contextually sensitive casino in the world, worthy of its location along the already world-renowned Chicago River.

Margaret Frisbie, executive director, Friends of the Chicago River

Is democracy dying?

I’m afraid for democracy. We all are aware of the “big lie” and Jan. 6. And we’ve all heard about what certain members of the GOP and far right did to further the “big lie” by attempting a coup. We’re talking about politicians who would put holding on to power way above patriotism, or democracy.

Hopefully, after the Jan. 6 congressional committee hearings are televised, some of those power-hungry politicians will be exposed. It also disturbs me that some in the GOP sing the praises of Russian President Vladimir Putin. But now we’ve come to find out besides the embrace of this monster, the GOP has its own oligarch: Larry Ellison, who made billions of dollars with Oracle software, was reportedly involved in several phone conversations planning the Jan. 6 coup with insurrectionists at the top of Trump’s cabal.

This is truly scary. As a Vietnam veteran and voter, my vote doesn’t seem to carry any weight anymore, even with a guaranteed constitutional right and four years of service to this country. I don’t have the dollars, power to influence, or direct access to the powerful. To put it another way, democracy is dying.

P.S. God bless Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.

Steve McCoy, Lincolnshire

No right to body armor

There is no Second Amendment right to own body armor, the absence of which would, probably, have resulted in fewer people being killed during the last two mass shootings as security or law enforcement personnel might have killed both shooters.

Why are there not extensive restrictions on acquiring and owning it? What possible real-world justification is there for civilians having body armor?

Curt Fredrikson, Mokena

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