Grant Park fencing is like a prison camp

With festival season upon us, we can expect the cyclone fencing around much of Grant Park to remain, making Chicago’s glorious front yard on the lake look more like a deserted prison camp.

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Pedestrians walk past a fence set up for Lollapalooza at the intersection of Columbus Drive and Monroe Street in Chicago, IL. | Colin Boyle/Sun-Times

Spring is here, and the city’s parks beckon. But Grant Park, the lakefront jewel of our park system, has already been fenced in like a prison camp. It’s as if the city parks are on lockdown.

In Chicago, the entire spring and summer seasons are one continuous series of festivals. So we can expect the cyclone fencing around much of Grant Park to remain, making Chicago’s glorious front yard on the lake look more like a deserted prison camp.

Chicago parks should be green, open and welcoming, but they sure won’t be this summer just like summers past, and it will continue into the fall with barricades erected for the Chicago Marathon.

To be sure, those summer festivals and the marathon generate big revenue for our city, but at what price? I don’t think open, welcoming enjoyment of our parks should be sacrificed on the altar of revenue enhancement for the city.

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In the early 20th century, Chicago businessman  Montgomery Ward advocated that the lakefront be publicly accessible and remain “forever open, clear and free,” lest the city descend into the squalor typical of American cities of the time, with buildings and heavy industry  destroying any chance for beauty.

In 1906, Ward campaigned to preserve Grant Park  as a public park, and it has been protected since 1836 by “forever open, clear and free” legislation that has been affirmed by four previous Illinois Supreme Court rulings.

But in recent years, the summer season in Grant Park has degenerated into a continuous festival season in which the park is often barricaded and locked down behind impenetrable cyclone fencing. The days of Ward’s dream of parks “forever open, clear and free” are over for Grant Park in summer. I’m sure Montgomery Ward and other early champions of our parks system must be spinning in their graves.

Gerald D. Skoning, Loop

Clean up O’Hare’s International Terminal

I returned yesterday from a trip out of the country and was subjected to the “perp” walk down a dreary, monotonous corridor to the customs area in the  International Terminal at O’Hare.

This area should be welcoming and pleasant after a long  flight and the anticipation of visiting our city, which we who live here know is an example of cleanliness, class and  modernity. But that is not the impression that is given.

The International Terminal instead seems outdated and dirty, and causes visitors to wonder what lies ahead. Or worse yet, why are they visiting?

With all of the money the airport generates, can’t some  be spent on cleaning toilets and general areas, putting tiles back in the ceiling and making the International Terminal a more pleasant place to use?

Chicago should be ashamed!

Barry Goldberg, Evanston

On school shootings, Sullum should shut up

I’ve spent the morning trying to rein in my anger before writing this letter.  Anger brought on by Jacob Sullum’s column (“Politicians should resist rush to ‘do anything’ in response to school shootings). 

It appears that Mr. Sullum has decided that it’s the fault of the schools.  He notes that “hardening” schools to make them less vulnerable to attack is more logical than banning “assault weapons.”  The quotation marks are his.  So the automatic long guns and handguns aren’t assault weapons?  Then what does he think they are?  Those weapons are designed solely to kill human beings, as many as possible in a short amount of time. 

Mr. Sullum goes on to discuss the cost-effectiveness of school security measures.  He says that “even strategies that look promising can be prohibitively expensive.”  Then Mr. Sullum quotes statistics from criminologist James Alan Fox about the number of children killed in school shootings in grades K-12 since 2013 (77), then concludes that in the U.S., where there are more than 130,000 K-12 schools, the likelihood of an attack in infinitesimal. 

Would Mr. Sullum be willing to say these things in the presence of the parents from Sandy Hook, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and Uvalde?  Let them know that the lives of their children is a small price to pay so that 18-year old Billy can buy an assault weapon. 

I’m tired of conservatives like Mr. Sullum making excuses for this carnage.  We don’t want or need your input. Y our contribution to the discussion just means more dead children.

Susan Lovell, DeKalb

‘Reasonable’ gun laws

The shooting and killing has got to stop. “Reasonable” gun control is just that: REASONABLE. It means, among other things, background checks for all gun purchases throughout the country; a ban on sales of assault rifles, and on automatic and semi-automatic guns. Strict gun laws are not working in Illinois because surrounding states have lax gun laws and guns are brought across the borders. 

If you are opposed to bans on assault rifles, automatic and semi-automatic guns, then you are telling me that you’re okay when that gunman with an assault rifle walks into your child’s or grandchild’s school. If you’re opposed to reasonable gun control, you are an accessory to all of the mass shootings in this country. You have an awful lot of blood on your hands.

Chris Aument, Itasca

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