On Jan. 8, four elected officials representing Chicago’s South Side—Ald. Will Burns (4th Ward), Ald. Willie B. Cochran (20th Ward), Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd Ward) and Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th Ward)—sent the following letter to the Barack Obama Foundation.
To: The Barack Obama Foundation
We are writing to express our enthusiasm and support for Chicago’s bid for the Obama Presidential Library at a site on Chicago’s South Side. The South Side is the Obamas’ home and it is our home. It offers the best potential to create jobs and educational opportunities for community members and a vibrant cultural resource for the world.
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 bid enjoys enormous support from civic leaders, community organizations and residents. We are ready to be partners with the Foundation during the bid process and throughout the development of the Library.
Establishing appropriate governance over the land that will house the Library is important. Mayor Emanuel, the Chicago Park District and other stakeholders are working through that process now. We support the University of Chicago’s public position that any final agreement should be “park positive,” resulting in more publicly accessible parkland than would be required for the Library. In our roles, 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.
The Obama Presidential Library represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the South Side, with the potential to bring 3,300 construction jobs and $600 million in economic activity during construction, as well as 1,900 permanent jobs. 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, bringing the presidential library to the South Side is personal. For the youth of our communities, it would be an inspiration.
We are committed to doing all that is necessary to bring the Obama Presidential Library to our city’s South Side. We owe it to future generations of Chicagoans.
Alderman Will Burns, 4th Ward
Alderman Pat Dowell, 3rd Ward
Alderman Willie Cochran, 20th Ward
Alderman Leslie Hairston, 5th Ward
For more information about the South Side’s collaborative bid for the Obama Presidential Library, visit www.oplsouthside.org