Obama Presidential Library: 4 South Side aldermen back U. of Chicago bid

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Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd); Ald. Will Burns (4th); Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) and Ald. Willie Cochran (20th) (pictured) signed a letter to the Chicago based Barack Obama Foundation to support the U. of C. sites, either at Jackson or Washington Parks. | Brian Jackson/ Sun-Times

WASHINGTON– The University of Chicago, moving to shore up local support for its Obama presidential library and museum bid – with sites on Chicago Park District land it does not own – got the public support Thursday of four aldermen whose wards are near the proposed locations.

Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd); Ald. Will Burns (4th); Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) and Ald. Willie Cochran (20th) signed a letter to the Chicago based Barack Obama Foundation to support the U. of C. sites, either at Jackson or Washington Parks.

“As elected officials with responsibility to represent the interests of our constituents, we are determined to help make appropriate locations available for the library in a timely manner, as the Barack Obama Foundation has requested,” the aldermen said in their joint letter.

Washington and Jackson Parks are part of the city’s “historic” park network. The aldermen said in their letter, “we will work to ensure that the historic nature of the parks is preserved. This is a sound framework for addressing issues related to parkland.

“…Barack and Michelle Obama began their political journey on the South Side, and worked side by side with many of us on issues confronting our city and our nation. For us, bring the presidential library to the South Side is personal.”

The parks are near the U. of C. main Hyde Park campus and are owned by the Chicago Park District. The U. of C. bid is in trouble with the foundation because the bid the school filed on Dec. 11 did not, as required, show a clear path for the the land acquisition.

Pushed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago Park District will hold hearings on transferring the land to the city next Tuesday and Wednesday.

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