By Kierra Gray
Last week’s approval by the City Council to sanction the lakefront site for the Lucas Museum is not stopping Friends of the Parks from pursuing the group’s lawsuit against the Chicago Park District and the city.
So controversy over the site continues even after the city and the Chicago Bears franchise negotiated an arrangement that gives avid Bears fans tailgating spaces that would have been lost to the museum.
Terms of the ground lease would allow the nonprofit Lucas Museum to build its museum on the lakefront with a 99-year land lease at the cost of $10, according to the Chicago Tribune. Construction could begin as early as spring, the Tribune reported.
“We now have an agreement where the Chicago Bears and their fans will get to do the tailgating that they would like and I think that’s a good thing. We also now have open space replacing a parking lot and we have a museum and all the cultural enrichment and economic benefit that comes with it replacing a parking lot. And so we worked out something that I would refer to as a win, win, win,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
But Friends of the Parks will go back to federal court on November 10, challenging the right of the city and park district to site the museum on the lakefront park district land.
“The museum we would imagine brings jobs and economic development and contributes to tourism in Chicago. We think that actually might be better served in a neighborhood that could really benefit from those jobs and opportunities even more than the lakefront location could,” said Juanita Irizarry, executive director of Friends of the Parks.
The organization suggested the museum be built on the Michael Reese campus, site of the demolished landmark hospital founded in 1881 and closed in 2009 on the Near South Side.
Dave Golden, a tourist in Chicago, sees both sides.
“I’m really mixed about the whole thing. Museum’s good, I just came from a museum. They’re great. I’m a huge George Lucas fan I mean it’s been tremendous and stuff, but do you want to give up more green space?” said Golden.