Tuesday, October 09, 2007

On-Line Petition opposes Children's Museum Land Grab in Grant Park

A website called Save Grant Park has started an on-line petition drive to oppose the construction of a 100,000-square-foot home for the Chicago Children's Museum in Grant Park. The website includes links to mainstream media articles on the battle, a blog, and links to finding ways to contact your local alderman on the issue. You can view and add your name to the petition here. Its text is simple and direct:
We, the undersigned, oppose the construction of the Chicago Children's Museum on Grant Park.

Grant Park has remained uniquely protected open space for 171 years, and should remain "forever open, free and clear" for future generations of Chicagoans - from all corners of the city -- to enjoy.
In the first five days since the petition has been posted, over 200 signatures have been gathered, mostly from Chicago, but also representing a large number of suburbs, as well as Spain, Mexico and Canada. View and sign here.


Anonymous said...

It sure is a land grab.....and a money grab as well!

"Moving to Grant Park would allow it (The Chicago Children's Museum) to save $300,000 annual rent and, in addition, qualify for a $1 million museum grant. So THE MUSEUM WILL GAIN $1.3 MILLION PER YEAR with the move, PAID ENTIRELY BY CITY RESIDENTS, whose taxes fund Navy Pier as well as the Chicago Park District."


Anonymous said...

200 people?! Wow ... that isn't a lot. I thought these people had thousands and thousands of supporters. Maybe the museum folks were right when they said that Reilly wasn't being forthcoming with the reseach about how many supported the plan and how many didn't? I think this is a dead issue -- looks like it's going to be built. We should all go back to complaining about Soldier Field or something.

Lynn Becker said...

The petition, which hasn't been widely publicized, is just beginning. Remember that there have also been polls by WTTW and the Chicago Sun-Times that received thousands of responses expressing an overwhelming rejection both of the museum's race-baiting campaign and of the its proposed construction in Grant Park. The fact that the museum has never published the results of the phone survey that they commissioned leads me to think that maybe, even with the cleverly biased wording of the questions, it still wound up with most of the respondants opposing the museum's move.

And exactly who is supposed to be questioning Alderman Reilly's "research"? He conducted public meetings, and the response was overwhelmingly negative to the museum's land grab. Not even the CCM's Jim Law disputed that.

Isn't it interesting that museum supporters are always quick to label the fight against the museum a "dead issue?" that everyone should stop talking about so Gigi Pritzer can continue to lobby alderman unimpeded by any mention of the massive wave of public opinion against her?

Anonymous said...

Lynn -- I am BY NO MEANS a musuem supporter. Believe me. I am neighbor of Daley Bi just disillusioned by all this. The research I was referring to were the numbers Reilly stated at the meeting that changed two or three times. Unfortunately, I think we have a novice politician who doesn't have the staff to keep all this straight. If you were at the meeting and say what happened with everything, you'll understand what I mean. Just a totally mismanaged meeting -- and really a separate issue from the seats hijaked by the folks the museum brought in to hold them. It's not that I want this to be a dead issue, but let's get real. The people who have power (Pritzkers and Daleys) want this to happen. There is nothing we can do to win this one. Am I wrong? I hope I am.

Lynn Becker said...

yes, institutions with large pots of money to hire consultants, and lawyers, and polltakers and connected former city officials ARE (usually) very well organized, and individuals or an independent freshman alderman are at a severe disadvantage.

Real democracy is messy; it's the sham that runs like a well-oiled machine. Because Reilly can be a bit disorganized, are you saying he's making up the level of opposition? That's certainly not the sense I get from the meetings I've attended, as well from the objective public polls.

Yes, Daley and Pritzker are powerful. It's no different from the powers arrayed against A. Montgomery Ward, and he ultimately prevailed. If he had just looked at the odds and given up, Grant Park as we know it would no longer exist. It would have long since been filled up by the pet projects of connected interests.

This is a long haul battle. There is the political fight - going on currently - and a legal fight, which would follow next, and could go on for a very long time. (Decades, in the case of A. Montgomery Ward)

Believe me, Daley, Pritzker and their merry band are working overtime to convince everyone that "resistance is futile." But they are people, not fate. They triumph easily when their opponents are cowed and give up. They can be resisted, and they can be defeated.

Anonymous said...

Yeh, Lynn!

Anonymous said...

For Holly,

There was a written petition originally a number of months ago that 2000 people signed, so yes, there are thousands. It's a lot harder to gather written petitions than those on-line. The problem is power people (Pritzkers and Daleys and Tom ONeil who is in construction)keep coming back again and again. So we have to keep doing new petitions. Gayle

wrabbit said...

Just for hilarity's sake, why not put the darn thing in "The Park at Lake Shore East"; doing so would quench Daley's desire to spank the LSE NIMBY contingent and would also draw the public's attention to this nifty new park resource.

Eric Frost said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric Frost said...

Or better yet, make it subterranean in the LSE Park.

Honestly though, maybe not in LSE Park but in one of the places where a high-rise has yet to be built - if the market cools the developer might be looking to unload a parcel or two :-).

Anonymous said...

Grant Park and only Grant Park is protected by convenants and several Illinois Supreme Court decisions. When challenged in court, several finished buildings have been torn down and even Marshal Field was not allowed to build the Field Museum within the confines of Grant Park.

The city or developers or charities are prohibited by long established case law from building any permanment structures within a legally defined area known as Grant Park.

Racisim or eliteism calims or Mrs. Pritzker - Puker's personal wishes, city council votes or planning commision votes are irrelevant.

As far as 'rent', they have a 99 year lease at $1 per year. They have approximately 80 years left on that lease.

Anonymous said...


It is so sad that you still clutch at the 'precendence' and 'they' who call rasicm straws.

Why do you refuse to address the pysical design of the museum?

How much green space does it actually displace vs. how much it introduces?

How much natural light did Ron Krueck actually get down into the musuem via the sculptural skylights (very arguably as least as aesthetically pleasing as the Harris Theater or the Peristyle) and how many floor-to-ceiling windows into the courtyard?

How will the children interact with Grant Park, The Art Institute, Millenium Park, the Lurie Garden and the Prizker Pavilion vs. public access and amenities at other sites?

Lynn Becker said...

It's pretty hard to discuss the physical design of proposed new 100,000 square foot building when the museum and the architects refuse to release their renderings of it. Would you offer up a design critique of a building you can only see in perspectives from thousands of feet away?

Bottom line, however, it wouldn't matter if it were another Robie House or Barcelona Pavilion: it doesn't belong in Grant Park.

Anonymous said...

Lynn, one more thing, you being such the gallant knight carrying on the singularly heroic effort of Mr. Ward:

Where were you when the following was built:

Harris Theater
Excelon Pavilions
That Restarant in Millenium Park
The Pritzker Pavilion
The Petrillo Bandshell
The Monroe Street Garage
The 4 Buckingham Fountain Pavilions
The CPD Maintenance Facility on Columbus
The Millenium Park Garage Pavilions

Do you have an excuse for not generating public outrage over each of these prior incidents of law violation? Or do you have some fuzzy excuse that now is the time to draw the line?

Anonymous said...

well, I'm not even an architectural blog critic, and I have a pretty good idea how the museum is designed...have you asked the architects or the CCM for an additional presentation because you are still unclear?

Lynn Becker said...

That's the difference between us, Jack.

You see everything that's been built in Grant Park as an argument for filling up the rest of it. I see it as a sign that we need to stop and reassert the historic Ward mandates to protect what we have left, especially that part closest to the lake, east of Columbus, where construction has been minimal.

Yes, my editors did request detailed renderings. Like everyone else, bird's eye views were all they got. And, as you know, I've repeatedly called on them to release them since. I'm not the museum's nanny. It is their responsibility to let people see what this building that they are assumably so proud of actually looks like, not hide it in a closet as if it were some embarrassing relation who becomes palatable only when seen from a distance.

Anonymous said...

Hey...I have a great idea...why not put the CCM in Lincoln Park right next to the zoo...this way it will be close to everything and Miss (I have more money than God) can be right there to oversee it....come on Mayor Daley...we have quite enough traffic, conjestion and mess on upper Randolph without adding another million people per year to our back yard......stop with the nonsense...don't you have a large city to run???

Anonymous said...

well, I have seen a roof plan, and detailed sections (I think what you refer to as wide-angled)...regardless, certainly enough to render a fairly legitimate critique (I have had extensive experience doing such for architectural studio and thesis projects)...

I think the 'anonymous' above has said it best....the issue isn't free, clear, etc. its 'congestion'...how absurd is that?

and as far as your totally arbitrary Columbus rule, I guess the Daley Bi Field House and the 4 Bunkingham pavilions don't count? Why didn't you start your crusade againt those buildings? and even more importantly, why don't you add those to the current crusade?

Please, lets start talking about what's best for the institution. Does everyone in the city get a vote? Of course not. It primarily should be decided by the board of the CCM and the mayor that was overwhelmingly elected by the citizens of the city.

In the meantime, we could discuss the items listed above, architecture, usable green space, proximity to public transportation, other amenities such as the Art Institute, the Pritzker Pavilion, and the Lurie Garden that would appear to serve the kids quite well.

Lynn Becker said...

Let's see - a 10,000 square foot fieldhouse and four small pavilions probably 500 - 1,000 square feet each, versus a 100,000 square foot museum and a 20,000 square foot fieldhouse. Same, same. Of course! I must have been blind to think there's a difference.

"It primarily should be decided by the board of the CCM and the mayor . . . " What a quaint, Daley-centric view of government - no aldermen, no planning commission, no courts - just the whims of a mayor elected by a steadily declining share of Chicago residents and his immediate family of favored, connected friends. Utopia.

Anonymous said...

Lynn, your intellectual laziness is astonishing....if we are talking precedence, what difference does it make what size it is? the Monroe Garage must be over half a million sqaure feet!

what makes a difference is how it impacts the park, for better or worse, and how it benefits the citizens of Chicago.

Of course the alderman will vote on this, but to so easily dismiss the mayor as some how not really supported by the average Chicagoan reveals your and your reader's elitism streak.

Meanwhile, you continue to ignore the pertinent issues:

How exactly will this improve, or as you put it, destroy Grant Park?

Will it provide more or less usable park space?

Oh, and would you please offer an addendum to the 'Ward Mandates' that spells out what size building, whether it is above grade, below grade, above the grade of the street, but below the 'visual grade', or somehow in between and when the sqaure footage counts in your opinion (all 100k of the CCM) and when it doesn't (none of the half a million or more of garage space or the 1000sf pavilions at Bunkingham Fountain or the approx 10k Petrillo Band Shell - maybe it's ok to pave over the park 1000k at a time ;-) ).

Anonymous said...

What I've never been able to understand in this whole debate is......why Grant Park only? The museum has expressed a "critical" need for proximity to parking, public transportation, other cultural institutions, etc. All these "needs" can be fulfilled in other locations.

Given the contentious nature of this debate, why won't they consider other locations?


Anonymous said...

Julie, let me address that...

Your presumtion is not accurate. No other ocation would provide the mix of cultural intstitutions, with a CENTRAL location with as many public transportation options, and bus parking drop-off options (and, indeed, with as many tourists and revenue generation possibilities) as this location. I heard the head of the Art Institute speculating about how much their attendance would increase due to Piano's new bridge...the figures are staggering.

All you folks you are so afraid of the congestion (i.e. kids trappling 'our' park) or paving over of Grant Park (Lynn, who somehow thinks a glass skylight is worst then a dozen air intake vents for the Monroe 'Underground') should know what they are really up against with this site....

it just makes too much sense...

Anonymous said...

Jack, so then what you are saying is it is really about the MONEY the Chicago Children's Museum will generate for themselves at this location?


Anonymous said...

well, the success of any museum is based upon attendance, which is directly connected to....money!

Anonymous said...

Lynn, I have to thank you for sponsering this blog.....like many, the truth eventually comes out....

Yes, the truth is, it is about the money. But, as I just pointed out, that is directly connected to attendance - and who wouldn't want the CCM to be the most heavily attended museum in the city?

Oh, that's right! WE don't want 'those' kids running around 'our' park...that IS it. Lynn is helping to generate the hugest red herring in the recent history of this city. It's not about a couple of skylights, it's about the kids and traffic.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, Jack. If what you are saying is the debate is now over the money that the Children's Museum can generate for themselves vs. the legacy of an open, clear and free Grant Park .....I don't know how I could possibly argue for the Children's Museum.

Unless I worked for the Chicago Children's Museum, of course!


Eric Frost said...

"the singularly heroic effort of Mr. Ward"

hey -- that's my role! just kidding. But I remember being the first to bring up that impediment to the plan when the CCM presented to a New Eastside Association of Residents meeting in 2006, the first meeting I ever attended..

I asked how they could put a museum like this in Grant Park with the long-standing legal restrictions..

I understand this is prime real estate and has been prime real estate for more than a century, that's why the people who set it did it as they did.

Anonymous said...

Why does everyone in Chicago still vote for Daley then? It seems that the puppets in the government bend over backwards for anything the developer wants! Why dn''t they just build condos on the old Merc VACANT LOT before demolishing the Dunham Building!! I'm beginning to question my reasons for wanting to live in Chicago now... I might just go to New York, where they have innovation AND a respect for the past. I hope someone can convince me otherwise...

Eric Frost said...

"No other ocation would provide the mix of cultural intstitutions, with a CENTRAL location with as many public transportation options" blah. congrats for you.

The Indianapolis Children's Museum is I believe the most visited Learning / Activity Center of its kind with 1.2M annual visitors ( http://www.windychat.com/chicago-has-three-841.html ) and it is several miles outside of the downtown.


Anonymous said...

I've attended the CCM meetings since the very first one. Every series has a different architect with a new design. Thus, I think Lynn's comments are appropriate.

Given the environmental damage that comes from clear glass in a park, it seems unlikely the City will approve anything like that sticking up to Randolph Street.

And FYI: I'm an AIC volunteer. The executives there are delusional about the impact of the bridge over Monroe in terms of paid attendees. It will be a huge hit with tourists but won't bring in enough additional visitors to pay for having staff sell tickets at the new Monroe door.