Lawmakers Approve Bill on Obama Library, Lucas Museum

The Illinois Legislature approved a bill Thursday to ensure that Chicago has legal authority to use public park land as potential sites for Barack Obama's presidential library and film producer George Lucas' proposed museum.

The legislation clarifies state law to expressly allow Chicago to construct museums on public park land or "formerly submerged lands."

"Current and future generations deserve the opportunity to learn first-hand the impact of President Obama on Illinois as a member of the General Assembly, a U.S. senator and our president, and to also learn how our state had an impact on him," House Speaker Michael Madigan said in a statement following the decision.

Friends of the Parks has sued to bar construction of the Star Wars creator's museum on filled-in lakefront property. The group says the city needs state approval because the site is still considered protected waterway.

"It is deeply troubling that our mayor and state public officials are trying to use the Obama Library as a shield to sneak the Lucas Museum on to Lake Michigan," officials at Friends of the Parks said in a statement. "In any case, House Bill 373 will not solve the legal problem for the Lucas Museum or the Presidential Library.

Obama is expected to soon choose between Chicago, New York and Hawaii for his library. Parks advocates oppose a University of Chicago bid that includes park district property.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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