Obama Foundation unveils plans for library parking garage with park on top

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Obama Library Foundation offered Wednesday to pay for an underground parking garage for the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park, ahead of an open house community meeting on proposed road closings and potential traffic problems.

Inside the South Shore Cultural Center, where the blueprints for the Presidential Center were first presented in May, carefully marked boards outline intricate changes to traffic flow, green space and parking lots.

"The information on the boards today presents our current projections for travel time impact for some of the most popular routes going through the park," said Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld.

A portion of Cornell Drive that current accommodates 27,000 cars a day will close. CDOT is proposing adding a southbound lane on Lake Shore Drive at 57th street, and two on Stony Island Avenue between 59th Street and 63rd Street to handle the traffic.

"If the idea is to add park land, which is what they claim, if you widen those roads you're taking away park land," said Margaret Schmidt, co-coordinator of Jackson Park Watch.

The Obama Foundation has a newly-unveiled solution for that.

"This parking garage is built to have a park on top of it," said Mark Strautmanis, vice president for civic engagement of the Obama Foundation. "It will be several stories in the air, covered with park land.

"People who live in the area came to the information session with lots of questions.

"Where is the cost information, where is the timeline? As taxpayers, how much are we going to be asked to pay for this?" Schmidt wondered.

The Wednesday afternoon session was the first of two.
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