Reilly: Grant Park Should Remain Forever Open, Clear and Free
Allowing Children's Museum to Build in Grant Park
Would Set Dangerous Precedent
Chicago - Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward) today announced his opposition to a proposal by the Chicago Children's Museum to build a new 100,000 square-foot facility in Grant Park. Reilly made his announcement following a three-month public process structured to allow the Children's Museum to present their plans and to facilitate public input. Recognizing that Grant Park belongs to the residents of the city of Chicago, Alderman Reilly acknowledged that his decision impacts the entire city of Chicago and not just neighborhood residents or his downtown constituents.
According to Reilly:
"Grant Park belongs to all residents of Chicago and, thanks to Montgomery Ward's vigilance, Grant Park has remained protected open-space for 171 years and is now one of our city's most precious public assets. There is only one Grant Park and it should remain forever open, clear and free for future generations, from every corner of Chicago, to enjoy for many years to come."
"Grant Park has been one of Chicago's most precious resources for 171 years. The Chicago Children's Museum is not the first private tourist attraction to try to build on Grant Park. Over the past 150 years, dozens of private buildings have been proposed for Grant Park. If exceptions had been allowed for those private developments, there would be no open space left on Grant Park today and we wouldn't even be having this debate."
"This debate is about the future of Grant Park and whether we should abandon our 171 year commitment to preserving this park as an open space for all residents of the city of Chicago to enjoy. Allowing the Children's Museum to build on Grant Park would set a dangerous precedent and open the flood-gates for other private developers to lobby for their own locations on Grant Park. I agreed with the Chicago Tribune's recent editorial against new building in Grant Park when they opined 'saying no to a Children's Museum today empowers Chicago to keep saying no for eons of tomorrows.'"
Reilly says he is prepared take whatever steps are necessary to preserve and protect Grant Park from the Children's Museum proposal and any future building proposals.
"Just as previous generations fought to protect Grant Park for our generation, I believe it is our generation's responsibility to protect Grant Park for the benefit of future generations - for all Chicagoans from every corner of the city. I will not bow to political pressure in this effort, because I refuse to ignore Grant Park's 171 years of history as a specially protected open space."
"Back in his day, Montgomery Ward incurred the wrath of an angry Chicago City Council that claimed his fight to preserve public open space and to protect Grant Park was impeding 'economic progress' for the city of Chicago. In fact, one alderman went so far as to say the 'downtown lakefront is no place for a park - it should be used to bring revenue to the city.' Thankfully, the Illinois Supreme Court disagreed and now more than a century later, the people of Chicago are still able to enjoy the beautiful open space that is our beloved Grant Park."
Daniel Burnham, 1909:
"The lakefront by right belongs to the people. It affords their one great unobstructed view, stretching away to the horizon, where water and clouds seem to meet Not a foot of its shores should be appropriated by individuals to the exclusion of the people. On the contrary, everything possible should be done to enhance its natural beauties, thus fitting it for the part it has to play in the life of the whole city. It should be made so alluring that it will become the fixed habit of the people to seek its restful presence at every opportunity."
Related Phone Numbers
Children's Museum Supporters:
Chicago Children's Museum, Peter England, 312-527-1000
Mayor Richard Daley, 312-744-3300
Grant Park Conservancy, Bob O'Neill, 312-829-8015
Grant Park Supporters:
Alderman Brendan Reilly, 312-642-4242
Friends of Daley-Bi, John & Peggy Feigel, THE2Figs@aol.com
Friends of Downtown, 312-548-9454
NEAR (New Eastside Association of Residents), Richard Ward, email@example.com