Desperate to keep Hollywood movie director George Lucas from building his museum on the west coast, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has come up with another offer he hopes Friends of the Parks won’t refuse: Enough new parkland to complete Chicago’s lakefront green belt from Evanston to Indiana.
It has long been the goal of Friends of the Parks and other organizations to have a continuous greenway running along the Lake Michigan shoreline for the entire length of the city of Chicago. That hasn’t been possible to date because the southern portion is brownfields and industrial parks, and the northern part is owned be entrenched condominium buildings.
But Rahm, apparently, thinks he has a way to solve those problems, and according to the Chicago Sun-Times, is willing to make it happen in exchange for FotP dropping its lawsuit blocking the construction of the Lucas Museum on a parking lot south of Soldier Field.
The fact that a small group of non-elected people can hold a $700 million project hostage has been a source of frustration for many. But as Chicago Magazine so diligently documented earlier this week — that’s the law. It doesn’t even have to be a special interest group like Friends of the Parks. It could be one kook with a map to the courthouse and a lot of time on his hands. The courts have ruled that any citizen has this power over Chicago’s lakefront.
Kooks aside, it remains to be seen where Hizzonor will find the money to make the FotP dream come true. Estimates from decades ago put the lakefront completion project at half a billion dollars. Obviously, it’s much more than that now. And with the city lacking tuppence to rub together, it remains to be seen if the Lucas blockers will grab at this carrot, or continue to stand there an admire the stick.