Former President Barack Obama will have to wait a little longer to break ground on his massive Obama Presidential Center.
A local environmental group, Protect Our Parks, won the first of what will probably be multiple legal battles against the construction of the facility.
Win Some, Lose Some
In this case, U.S. federal Judge John Robert Blakey handed a win to Protect Our Parks to at least delay groundbreaking on Obama’s Presidential Center. The group is fighting the project on the basis that the city has no right to use public land for private purposes.
According to several reports, the deal negotiated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel offers very favorable terms for the Obama project. But there are issues with some wildlife that could be displaced by the building.
The judge’s ruling emphasized the need to review this case in full at a later date.
But while his ruling did at least delay the beginning of construction, the judge struck down several other aspects of the lawsuit.
Meanwhile, the group has noted that it does not disapprove of the project nor does it disapprove of it being located on the South Side. They even said that if the project was moved elsewhere — and they have several locations on the South Side that they believe make more sense — they would drop the lawsuit altogether.
Team Obama Not Deterred
Unfortunately, race has become a focal point of the lawsuit for some Chicagoans.
Because two members of the protesting organization are white and do not live in the area, they are being called out for even being interested in this project.
Torrey Barrett, who is working on developing economic opportunities related to the Obama project, said: “It would be different if it was a resident who lived on the South Side who actually had an interest in Jackson Park.”
“We worked really hard to get Chicago selected and the South Side selected. And here we are with this setback,” Barrett added, apparently ignoring that Protect Our Parks suggested multiple other locations nearby that could work for the project.
As it stands right now, the group representing the Presidential Center is moving forward as much as possible with the assumption that they will be able to break ground at the Jackson Park location.
Meanwhile, the judge in the case has set a review date for later this month and has insisted that he does not want to keep this matter tied up in the courts for an unnecessarily long time.