As CEO of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which owns McCormick Place, no one was more alarmed than I was when, earlier this week, a small section of non-structural decorative face brick on one of Lakeside Center’s retaining walls fell and temporarily blocked traffic on DuSable Lake Shore Drive. And no one was more grateful than I was that there were no injuries and only minor vehicle damage.
MPEA takes this incident incredibly seriously, and we are working quickly to identify the cause to ensure nothing like this happens again. The affected face brick — the rest of which has been removed out of an abundance of caution — was purely cosmetic. Therefore, it’s unfortunate that the Sun-Times editorial board is using this incident to spin abject hyperbole about the condition of Lakeside Center.
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An editorial last week depicted Lakeside Center as “ragged” and “crumbl[ing] into the street like a common shack.” Let me be clear: Those characterizations could not be further from the truth. I can tell you first-hand that is a dangerous misrepresentation of Lakeside Center, which remains a vital piece of McCormick Place and an integral driver of the city and state’s economic growth.
To suggest Lakeside Center is little-used and in disrepair is simply disingenuous. Lakeside Center has more than 250 events scheduled through 2035. In fact, during the past two months (May and June 2022), there have only been seven days when Lakeside Center was completely unused.
Like any older building, Lakeside Center has significant upcoming maintenance. However, the Center and all buildings on campus have been maintained regularly and appropriately. What is not true is any suggestion that these needs represent a risk to the future of the building or a public safety liability. Lakeside Center’s future is bright; as I have previously alluded to, we plan to solicit ideas for potential redevelopment in the coming months.
Until then, MPEA and McCormick Place will remain committed to serving as vital ambassadors for Chicago’s meeting, trade show and convention industries — and Lakeside Center will remain a crucial part of our efforts.
Larita Clark, CEO, Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority
Land rights and responsibilities
Speaking as a riparian landowner who just won an expensive lawsuit to protect my rights to the land and water I purchased, I would like to point out a few of the issues that I felt made the suit worthwhile. While this happened in Florida, the premise holds true anywhere and serves as a counterpoint to your June 19 editorial’s (“Give kayakers and canoeists the right to paddle on small Illinois waterways”) view.
Perhaps the number one issue is liability. In this country, landowners have been successfully sued when someone injures themselves while trespassing. Even though I won my suit, I can still be sued by another trespasser. So I am compelled to carry liability insurance to mitigate the costs — which isn’t cheap — and the carrier requires I exercise my property rights by denying entrance to trespassers. In short, according to statute and case law, if I allow someone on my property then I am responsible for their well-being and safety.
The second issue, and what generated the lawsuit, is that some people show no respect or courtesy for the privilege to utilize something that does not belong to them. To them it has no value. Beyond the litter and pollution some people caused, a few were downright disrespectful to my paying guests and to my offers to use my property if they agreed to follow a few simple rules and sign a liability release. This is a case of a few bad apples ruining it for the many.
Some readers may argue that I show no compassion for the “many” by excluding them due to the few, but I say they should direct their anger to the U.S. court system and the judges that shift responsibility from the perpetrator to the deeper pockets. These types of judicial rulings hurt everyone, and until the citizenry shifts to accepting personal responsibility again, nothing is going to change.
I suspect half of readers will be vehemently opposed to these views and the other half will totally agree. If you really think about it, this is the underlying issue.
Gary Haring, Ft. Myers, Florida
The mayor’s refusal to retract
While I disagree with Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s use of profanity regarding Justice Clarence Thomas, I admire her determination not to apologize for the use of the word.
Whenever a politician or celebrity creates an uproar about a remark or a tweet, there is the ubiquitous and self-serving attempt to limit the damage to their career.
The mayor is exhibiting the utmost sincerity by refusing to retract what she said about Justice Thomas, who will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the worst Supreme Court justices of all time.
Larry Vigon, Jefferson Park