Environmental Review of Jackson Park Improvements

Updated June 20, 2018


The City of Chicago, through the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), is working on several roadway improvement projects in Jackson Park that will support the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) and the South Lakefront Plan update.

When these projects are completed, they will support a revitalized Jackson Park. Since it was originally designed by renowned landscape architects Olmsted & Vaux in 1871, Jackson Park has undergone multiple transformations in the last one hundred years which have altered the original design, including as the site of the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893.

The Chicago Park District’s South Lakefront Framework Plan (1999) outlined many of the proposed improvements now under consideration. The Park District is engaged in a planning process to update the South Lakefront Framework Plan, specifically for Jackson Park and South Shore Cultural Center. The 2018 Framework Plan update will create a plan for the next several years to respond to neighborhood needs and historic context, provide a vision for improvements, serve as a planning tool and outline priorities to deliver improvements in a coordinated manner.

Various proposed park projects and accompanying roadway changes within Jackson Park require a federal-level environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) as well as consultation under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. For these purposes, the city will prepare a document known as an “Environmental Assessment” (EA), which will be formally titled “Obama Presidential Center Mobility Improvements to Support the South Lakefront Framework Plan”.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and National Historic Preservation Act (Section 106)

NEPA and Section 106 are separate – but related – processes. When both are required, they must be completed concurrently, under the direction of a lead federal agency. In this case, the lead agency is the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The City will conduct the review process in conjunction with the Federal agencies.

Purpose of Environmental Review

The purpose of this review is to provide a process for FHWA and NPS to work closely with the City of Chicago, the State Historic Preservation Office, other federal and state agencies, and the public to evaluate and, if necessary, mitigate the effects of the projects

For more information on the NEPA process, please visit the FHWA website.

For more information on Section 4(f) which only applies to FHWA, visit the 4(f) Tutorial on the FHWA's website or download the summary.

Both NEPA and Section106 require that federal agencies study the impacts of proposed plans on historic sites, buildings, and other cultural resources. Jackson Park is listed on the National Register as part of the Jackson Park and Midway Plaisance Historic Landscape District. The evaluation of potential impacts to historic resources, including Jackson Park, will be an important component of the review process.

Jackson Park

Public Participation

Community input will aid the City and Federal agencies in the identification of important cultural landscape features, architectural and ecological resources, and impacts to these resources.

To facilitate these discussions, the City will host community events as we move through the process during 2017 and 2018. All members of the public are invited to attend.

Certain parties, such as the State Historical Preservation Officer and local government representatives, are designated “consulting parties” in the Section 106 process. Other individuals or organizations may be invited to become consulting parties as well, or they may request consulting party status. More information on the role and designation of a consulting party can be found in the Citizen’s Guide to the Section 106 Process.

More information on the Section 106 process can be found at the following link: www.achp.gov/106summary.html.

Key Federal Review Milestones

(Past dates in gray; anticipated dates subject to change)

December 1, 2017

Section 106 Consulting Parties Meeting #1

(presentation of Section 106 process, draft Area of Potential Effect (APE) maps, and draft list of historic resources)

Materials: Presentationhandoutposter-boardsmeeting summarycomment letters

March 19, 2018

Section 106 Historic Properties Inventory Report and Archaeology Reports issued for review by consulting parties and the general public

(includes any changes to the Area of Potential Effect (APE) for architecture or the list of historic resources within the APE boundary)

Public comment on these reports will be accepted for 30 days, until April 19, 2018.

March 29, 2018

Section 106 Consulting Parties Meeting #2 

(presentation of Historic Properties Inventory and Archeology Reports and process for evaluation of potential effects)

View a webinar of the event.

 July 2018

Section 106 Consulting Parties Meeting #3 

(presentation of effects assessment and initial discussion of mitigation measures)

August 2018

Section 106 Consulting Parties Meeting #4

(presentation of draft mitigation measures and draft Memorandum of Agreement)

August to December 2018

Federal process continues (NEPA and Section 106)       

(more information will be added to this table as it becomes available) 

Public comment will be accepted throughout this process at dpd@cityofchicago.org. Information about other planning activities in Jackson Park is available at this link.

Additional Resources

Section 106 Informational Materials

Area of Potential Effects – Archaeology Map

This draft map depicts the areas of Jackson Park where historic artifacts may be found underground and will guide the excavation process to confirm.

Area of Potential Effects – Architecture/Landscape Map

This draft map depicts the boundary around Jackson Park where environmental impacts will be evaluated. The boundary is larger than the park itself to consider any impacts to adjacent properties or properties within the viewshed of the proposed development.

Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Act (UPARR) Grant Documentation

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Documents

Federal Highway Administration

National Park Service

National Register Nominations

Proposed Improvements to Jackson Park

City of Chicago Zoning Applications

 Supporting Information Facts

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