In the Media

The proposed new golf course in Jackson Park has been the subject of many articles, editorials, and letters in the media. Save Jackson Park has created an archive of these pieces, which is a project in progress.

Here is a sampling of some of those pieces, with excerpts and links. Check here regularly for updates.

Secrecy Surrounding Obama Center Plans Riles Jackson Park Advocates
By Fran Speilman and Lynn Sweet
Chicago Sun-Times, August 23, 2017

Excerpt: For months, the Chicago Sun-Times has been asking the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Department of Transportation to put a price tag on the roadway and infrastructure changes tied to the Obama Center and the proposal to merge the Jackson Park and South Shore golf courses into a single championship-caliber course. The Sun-Times also wants to know where the taxpayer money to pay that bill would come from. Both agencies have refused to provide details.

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Jackson Park Advocates Voice Worries About Obama Center Planning
Editorial
Daily Herald, August 22, 2017

Excerpt: Now that the course layout calls for displacing tennis courts and the South Shore Nature Sanctuary, Jackson Park residents are demanding to know where the treasured bird and butterfly preserve will be relocated and how that work will be paid for.

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Editorial
Hyde Park Herald, August 16, 2017

Excerpts: The two pedestrian underpasses (at 67th Street and South Shore Drive and Marquette Drive and Jeffery Boulevard) planned for the access to the course are not included in the $30 million total [cost of the golf course].

When asked for details about the golf course, both [Mike] Kelly and Rebekah Scheinfeld, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation, are on the record for having said they could not speak in detail because “we are early in the process” with Kelly adding that he hopes to break ground by next spring or summer of 2018.

The community is frustrated by this answer because it’s insulting. … Before you put a shovel in the ground, give us the full details on all changes and taxpayer costs so that we can have real conversations and the time to make real changes if needed.

Several essential parts of the park will have to be removed, moved or altered to accommodate the golf course redesign including a basketball court, track and field space, a dog park and a nature sanctuary. Several roads that help alleviate traffic from Lake Shore Drive such as parts of Marquette Drive may also be closed. These are elements of the park that are used and depended upon by neighboring schools, residents and visitors.

Golfer Michael Gillespie said he believes it will lead to a class divide. … Gillespie said “this is typical machine…politics, plan behind closed doors and shove it on the people.”

Show us how the golf course will be a benefit. Works with the community on the finished plan. Show us how the funding will come from the taxpayers before you put a shovel in the ground so the city can decide on spending. Have meetings that focus solely on the golf course, really listen to the concerns of the community, directly address all questions and ideas, and stay open to the idea of altering the plan if needed.

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New Jackson Park Golf Course May Have Many Hidden Costs
Michael Hoke, Letter to the Editor
Chicago Sun-Times, August 15, 2017

Excerpt: I call on the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District to inform us of the true costs of their future desires and explain to the public how they intend on paying the bills.

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Where’s Economic Benefit Of Proposed Golf course?
Michael Hoke, Letter to the Editor
Chicago Sun-Times, August 10, 2017

Excerpt: I am concerned that the economic benefits for the proposed Tiger Woods golf course are miniscule. The two current golf courses already have a large group of employees and I doubt that many more will be employed after the renovation. The claim that caddies will find employment is questionable as most golfers currently utilize golf carts and professional golfers employ their own personal caddies. The only area that I see job expansion would be in the security field as personnel will be required to patrol the fence lines that will be installed to keep the public out.

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Birders Fear Loss of Habitat to Obama Center, Jackson Park Golf Course Development
By Manya Brachear Pashman,
Chicago Tribune, August 5, 2017

Excerpts: At a recent community forum to discuss plans for the Obama Presidential Center, Karin Droegemueller stepped up to the microphone and introduced herself as an “angry birder.” … She is [worried that the proposed golf course and other development in Jackson Park will] displace the nearly 300 species that have helped make the park a favorite Chicago birding destination.

[Droegemueller] says it’s frustrating to watch the golf project “take a little piece of this and little piece of that” out of Jackson Park.

Rather than expanding a driving range next to Bobolink Meadow, a combination meadow and woodland on the east side of the Jackson Park Lagoon, they propose moving the range and expanding the meadow instead. Many blame the existing golf facility for chasing away the meadow’s namesake, a striking black and white bird with a golden shock of feathers on its crown.

A tree census is still underway to determine how many trees will be cut down, [Brian Hogan, co-founder and director of the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance,] said.

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South Side Golf Course Plan Full of Holes
Editorial
Chicago Sun-Times, July 30, 2017

Excerpt: Tiger Woods might love it. Barack Obama, too. But we have no idea whether a proposed professional-caliber golf course on Chicago’s South Side would be good for the city — and the people pushing for it don’t know either.

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Jackson Bark, South Side’s Only Dog Park, Scrapped in Golf Course Expansion
By Sam Cholke
DNAinfo, June 28, 2017

Excerpts: The Chicago Park District is extending its initial run of public meetings on changes to Jackson Park after more than 230 people showed up for a meeting that could only accommodate 75. … Among the changes was the elimination of the only dog park on the South Side, an unofficial and ad hoc dog agility course called Jackson Bark built over the last two years on a unused tennis court on the northern edge of the driving range.

The dog park is “much loved and much needed,” said Margaret Schmid of Jackson Park Watch, a group that has been critical of the planning for Jackson Park.

Dog lovers and tennis players would seem to be those pushed out in the current iteration of the golf course expansion.

[Brian Hogan of the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance] said the butterfly area would remain where it is, but the peninsula with views of the skyline would be given over to golfers, with more nature areas added north of the cultural center between two golf holes away from the lakeshore.

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Lack of Coordination on Obama Center, Tiger Woods Golf Course Threatens Jackson Park Redesign
By Blair Kamin
Chicago Tribune, June 23, 2017

Excerpt: …the planning process for that park, which took on new layers of complexity Wednesday with the unveiling of a design for a $30 million Tiger Woods golf course in the park’s southern end, almost surely would have given [Jackson Park designer Frederick Law] Olmsted pause. He believed that all elements of a park should be subordinated to a greater whole. …Yet such an all-encompassing vision is not yet evident. Latent conflicts between different priorities for the park have not been brought to the surface and thrashed out.

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Tiger Woods Firm Releases Designs for Chicago Public Golf Course
Alex Butler
UPI, June 22, 2017

Excerpts: TGR Design [the Tiger Woods firm] joined the city, Chicago Park District and the Chicago [Parks] Golf Alliance at the South Shore Cultural Center to unveil the plans Wednesday. It was the first public hearing, in a series of hearings, where the group will get feedback on the plan to merge the Jackson Park and South Shore golf courses…”

The Chicago Tribune noted that there are several issues associated with the project, including erosion on the lakefront, building expensive underpasses and raising enough money so that greens fees are affordable for locals.

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Chicago’s Proposed Tiger Woods-Designed Golf Course to Emphasize Playability
By Teddy Greenstein
Chicago Tribune, June 21, 2017

Excerpts: [Design Consult Beau Welling said,] “We believe in catering the golf experience to a wide swath of people — juniors, elderly, avid players, not-so-avid players,”

Ciji Henderson, president of the Chicago Women’s Golf Club, said she believes in the project “because it is something that the city truly desires and needs.”

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Fundraising Under Par for Jackson Park/South Shore Golf Merger
By Fran Speilman
Chicago Sun-Times, March 8, 2017

Excerpts: Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s $30 million plan to merge the Jackson Park and South Shore golf courses into a single, championship-caliber course has hit a fundraising slowdown amid fears of exactly how the redesigned holes would be built along the Lake Michigan shoreline. … private donors want to see results of a $1.1 million design and engineering study commissioned by the Chicago Park District before they start writing checks.

… [Mike Kelly, Chicago Park District Superintendent] has promised he won’t “put a shovel in the ground” until he has community support and at least $5 million in private contributions.

Michael Ruemmler, the former mayoral campaign manager now serving as a founding director of the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance, … is acknowledging he’s raised only enough money to pay the non-profit’s bills and go a little bit beyond “living hand-to-mouth.” He’s nowhere near what he calls the “$5 million threshold” — and he won’t be, until the study determines the actual cost of the new course and the price tag for taxpayer-funded public improvements needed to make the merger work.

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After Alderman’s Criticism, Obama Library Promises More Openness About Plan
Sam Cholke
DNAinfo, February 14, 2017

Excerpt: On Monday, 5th Ward Ald. Leslie Hairston released a letter calling on the Obama Foundation to start talking more publicly about its plans for Barack Obama’s presidential library and how it will impact other plans for the park, particularly redesigning the golf course.

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Park Board Urged to Call off Vote on Golf-Course contract
By Fran Speilman
Chicago Sun-Times, January 10, 2017

Excerpts: Friends of the Parks is urging the Chicago Park District board to put off Wednesday’s vote on a $1.1 million contract to design and engineer merger of the Jackson Park and South Shore golf courses.

[According to Juanita Irizarry, executive director of Friends of the Parks:] “The mayor continues in the same process of making decisions outside the public eye and then, pretending to have a public input process just to ram something through. . . . There will be a community up in arms for having shoved this project down their throat.”

“If I can’t raise the money, I’m not gonna put a shovel in the ground. And if I don’t have the community’s support — namely the golfers and the users and the stakeholders that have long been invested in South Shore and Jackson, I’m not gonna start,” [Chicago Park District Superintendent Mike Kelly] said.

[Naomi Davis, founder of Blacks in Green,] said, “African-American youth who need more and better of everything ought to be the priority of the Park District rather than any group of world class golfers.”

Although private donations are expected to cover 80 percent of the golf course project, public money will be used to build new underpasses — at 67th Street and South Shore Drive and at Jeffery Boulevard and 66th Street — needed to make the new golf course work. … Kelly acknowledged, [it] could cost taxpayers at least $11 million for the 67th Street underpass alone.

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Obama Library in Jackson Park Spurs Big Golf Course Redesign
By Fran Speilman
Chicago Sun-Times, December 25, 2016

Excerpts: [Juanita Irizarry, executive director of Friends of the Parks, said,] “There are lots of other priorities folks have for the park. We need to think about how all of those fit together — not just have one puzzle piece put forth and then the rest of the puzzle have to be built around that piece. The decision-making is backwards.”

“That was one of the stipulations we made from the get-go . . . [for the new golf course] to stay within the footprint [of the two existing golf courses],” [Chicago Park District Superintendent Mike Kelly] said. “I want to create dynamic park space to complement the golf course. But, I certainly do not want to take away park space for more golf.”

Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus, said he’s all for the merger [of golf courses], so long as all of the money is raised privately. “… I would be concerned about using public money on the golf course when we have so many other issues we need to attack—from homelessness to crime to education,” he said.

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Rahm Emails Reveal Secret Golf Course Planning
By Lynn Sweet
Chicago Sun-Times, December 25, 2016

Excerpts: At 1:59 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6 [2016], Mayor Rahm Emanuel used his iPhone to send an email from his private account to Marty Nesbitt, the chair of the Barack Obama Foundation.

Emanuel’s private emails exchanged with Nesbitt in August reveal, for the first time, secret maneuverings to combine the Jackson Park and South Shore golf courses — with no public input.

The watchdog group [Jackson Park Watch] noted that the rubber stamp Park District board didn’t even bother to approve its partnership with the new Chicago Parks Golf Alliance.”

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Jackson Park Golf Course
Chicagology.com, undated

An interesting blog post discussing the origins of the Jackson Park golf course drawing on an 1899 article in the Chicago Tribune and including a map of the original course.

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