Mayor to Push Ordinance Transferring Park Land for Obama Library | NBC Chicago
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Mayor to Push Ordinance Transferring Park Land for Obama Library

Ordinance is prompted by support heard at community hearings last week on the University of Chicago's proposal to use about 20 acres in Jackson or Washington parks for the Obama library

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    Mayor Rahm Emanuel is expected to introduce his proposal during Wednesday's Chicago City Council meeting. NBC Chicago's Michelle Relerford reports. (Published Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015)

    Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday introduced an ordinance that would allow the transfer of park district land to the city for use by an Obama presidential library.

    "I'm going to move Heaven and Earth to get this done," Emanuel said.

    The mayor asked the City Council to approve the transferring of 20 acres of park land, should President Barack Obama choose to build the library in either Washington or Jackson Park on the city's South Side.

    Aldermen won't vote on it until after the city's February election.

    The ordinance is prompted by support heard at community hearings last week on the University of Chicago's proposal to use about 20 acres in Jackson or Washington parks for the Obama library.

    "Presidential libraries come only once," Emanuel said Tuesday. "I don't think Chicago should miss on this unique opportunity: educationally, culturally or economically. It's a unique investment whereever they pick, and they're going to pick the city of Chicago."

    The ordinance will restrict the library building to about five acres, with remaining acreage maintained as park land. It also calls for the appointment of a committee to identify land that would replace green space taken by a library.

    Transferring park land could lead to a lawsuit from Friends of the Park, who believe that the University of Chicago site would better accomodate the library.

    The University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Chicago are competing with schools in Honolulu and New York to build the Obama library.

    While 42 aldermen have signed the mayor's proposal as co-sponsors, Alderman Bob Fioretti, a mayoral candidate, disagrees.

    "It's all this conquer and divide type of stuff, we should have been strong from the beginning," he said.

    The Barack Obama Foundation will make a recommendation in March and had recently suggested the Chicago bid needed to be stronger.

    "I see it as Chicago versus New York, I want to make sure Chicago is in the best position," Emanuel said. 

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