Despite reports Friday, Friends of the Parks, a non-profit group dedicated to protecting park land in Chicago, said it does not plan to drop its lawsuit over the proposed location of the Lucas Museum.
“Contrary to recent reports, our board remains fully united on the preservation of our lakefront and ensuring that the public trust doctrine is not ignored," Friends of the Parks Board President Lauren Moltz and Executive Director Juanita Irizarry said in a statement. "We do believe that the Lucas Museum has a place in Chicago for all to enjoy, but not at the expense of one our most precious public resources. We have always said we were open to discussions. Anything else you hear is rumor and speculation. We are not dropping the lawsuit."
The Chicago Sun-Times' Michael Sneed, citing a highly placed source, reported earlier Friday that Friends of the Parks' executive board had voted to restart negotiations with the city to "move forward with the Lucas Museum," which could mean dropping their lawsuit against the city.
The move would have come after a months-long battle surrounding sites along Chicago's lakefront that stalled installation of the highly-anticipated museum.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel called news of the report a win-win.
"All of us want to create a situation in the city of Chicago... what I call a win-win," Emanuel said. "Those who are committed to open lands and open spaces. People who enjoy museums and cultural events also enjoy open space."
The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art had recently revealed it was "seriously pursuing" locations outside of Chicago after the parks group opposed any site on the city’s lakefront, including the recently announced McCormick Place Lakeside Center plan.
The lawsuit had targeted the museum’s original site, located between Soldier Field and McCormick Place, but Friends of the Parks later said it opposed any site on Chicago’s lakefront. The group warned it would either amend the existing lawsuit to encompass the new McCormick Place Lakeside Center site or file a new suit, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“We're disappointed and baffled at Friends of the Parks' comments, which are contradictory to the decision they made less than 24 hours ago to stay the lawsuit,” City Hall spokeswoman Shannon Breymaier said in a statement. “Friends of the Parks has taken inconsistent and incoherent positions, making it impossible to work with them.”
Mellody Hobson, the wife of George Lucas, earlier claimed efforts to build the museum have been “co-opted and hijacked” by Friends of the Parks.
“While they claim to be a ‘strong steward of Chicago and a partner to its progress,’ their actions and decision rob our state of more than $2 billion in economic benefits, thousands of jobs and countless educational opportunities for children and adults alike,” Hobson said in a statement."As an African American who has spent my entire life in this city I love, it saddens me that young black and brown children will be denied the chance to benefit from what this museum will offer. As Chair of the Board of After School Matters, which serves 15,000 public high school students in Chicago and has more demand than can ever be met, I have seen firsthand what art can do to spur imagination and creativity, heal the soul and advance society—something so needed right now. This is a city of big shoulders and a metropolis that is second to none. In refusing to accept the extraordinary public benefits of the museum, the Friends of the Parks has proven itself to be no friend of Chicago. We are now seriously pursuing locations outside of Chicago. If the museum is forced to leave, it will be because of the Friends of the Parks and that is no victory for anyone."