The controversial Obama Presidential Center in Chicago will benefit from almost $200 million in taxpayer funding for work on infrastructure projects near the center on Chicago’s South Side, Fox News reports.
“Bringing the Obama Presidential Center to Chicago took leadership and vision, and we are gratified that our partners in Springfield also saw the potential for what this means for all of Illinois. The state’s $174 million investment in infrastructure improvements near the Obama Center on the South Side of Chicago is money well spent,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Illinois taxpayers will also shoulder half of a $50 million project to overhaul an above-ground rail stop two miles from the center. The other half will be funded via a Transportation Department grant.
Opponents have been skeptical that the center will yield such benefits to the local community and have decried the lack of a formal agreement with residents. Others have challenged the use of local parkland for the project.
“For all the talk of transparency, the Obama Foundation has never answered one essential question: Why MUST National Register-designated public parkland be taken for [the Obama center] when other options exist?”
A lawsuit was recently filed from Protect Our Parks alleging the city was engaging in a “short con shell game” to get the 12-story museum and library built on parkland.
The lawsuit argued that while the purpose of transferring the land was to house the official Obama presidential library, the center will not include his presidential papers, only a digital copy.
“Defendants have chosen to deal with it in a classic Chicago political way, known as a short con shell game, a corrupt scheme to deceive and seemingly legitimize an illegal land grab, one that will endure for centuries to come, regardless of future changing public park needs and increasingly consequential environmental conditions,” the lawsuit said.
Chris “Badger” Thomas is a Veteran who served our country as an Army Combat Medic.