Judge Nixes Construction Lawsuit Against $500M Obama Presidential Center
Former President Barack Obama speaks at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Obama Presidential Center on Sept. 28, 2021, at Jackson Park in Chicago. The center is scheduled to open in 2025. Seated are Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, left, and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. (Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP via Getty Images)
By Jason Clemons | Wednesday, 30 March 2022 09:02 PM
The Obama Presidential Center has seemingly cleared a major logistical hurdle after a federal judge tossed a lawsuit that sought to block construction of the $500 million project in Chicago.
On Tuesday, District Judge John Robert Blakey rejected a suit from Protect Our Parks and other individuals, which sought to preclude a portion of historic Jackson Park from being transformed into the Obama presidential building.
According to the lawsuit, Protect Our Parks believes there were "faults" in the federal reviews of the Obama center plans, along with environmental concerns.
The lawsuit also argued that regulators did not consider other locations for the expansive presidential project, alternative sites that were "much less harmful to protected resources."
Jackson Park is along the Lake Michigan waterfront and adjacent to the University of Chicago campus — just south of downtown. The Obama Presidential Center, honoring the legacy of former President Barack Obama, broke ground last September.
According to The Hill, Blakey ruled that the city of Chicago did not abdicate control or ownership of the Obama center to the Obama Foundation. He asserted that the Museums Act "manifests clear legislative intent" for the Obama center.
Upon completion of the project, the city will own the Obama Presidential Center under the terms of a 2018 ordinance approved by the Chicago City Council, according to WTTW-TV.
Blakey also said the Obama Presidential Center would "confer a public benefit because they 'serve valuable public purposes, including, but not limited to, furthering human knowledge and understanding, educating and inspiring the public, and expanding recreational and cultural resources and opportunities.'"
Eleven months ago, the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of a previous Obama building lawsuit, brought on by Protect Our Parks; and once construction began last fall, The group subsequently failed to secure a temporary injunction against the presidential center, while other appeals were still pending.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote the lead dissenting opinion when asked to reverse Blakey's original ruling of allowing construction to begin.
According to WTTW, Protect Our Parks intends to appeal this week's ruling.
"This is not the end of the road," Herb Caplan, POP president and founder, told WTTW. "Our many available paths of legal recourse are actually beginning, not ending, and with a few unexpected surprises to come for the defendants."
The Obama Presidential Center venue plans includ a world-class museum, presidential , winter garden, women's garden and wetland walk area, children's play area, and a luxurious Sky Room offering views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline.
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