Environmental Review of Jackson Park Improvements

Updated Dec. 12, 2017


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 and the Midway Plaisance 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 2017 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 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 FHWA’s NEPA process, please visit their website at: www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/projdev/index.asp

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.

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.

Meeting dates will be posted on this webpage as the project advances. 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. Public comment will be accepted throughout this process at dpd@cityofchicago.org.

Jackson Park

Schedule of Events

This schedule will be updated to include public meetings for the South Lakefront Planning process, the Obama Presidential Center and the Federal Review process for Jackson Park as they are announced.

To complete Section 106, the City will host the following meetings for consulting parties.

Meeting 1: Kick-off Meeting/Overview of Historic Resources

10 a.m. to noon, Friday Dec.1, 2017
South Side YMCA
6330 S. Stony Island Ave.
Meeting materials: Presentation, handout, poster-boards

Meeting 2: Results of Historic Resources Identification in the Study Area and Potential Effects

Meeting 3: Effects Assessment and Mitigation Measures

Meeting 4: Effects Assessment and Mitigation Measures

Section 106 meetings are intended to be working meetings for cooperating agencies and consulting parties.

Parallel to the Section 106 consutling parties meetings, the project team will host public meetings to discuss additional topics under NEPA and to provide updates on Section 106 Task Force progress. The NEPA process will culminate in a formal public hearing.

The proposed OPC project and proposed roadway improvements will also be vetted by the Chicago Plan Commission and City Council through the required public hearing process.

Separate from the Section 106 process, the Chicago Park District plans to host two public meetings in December to collect feedback that will shape the future of Jackson and South Shore Parks. The meetings are scheduled to take place at the following times.

South Lakefront Plan Community Meetings
6-9 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 and Monday, Dec. 11, 2017
South Shore Cultural Center
7059 S. South Shore Drive

Additional Resources

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 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.

Proposed Improvements to Jackson Park

 Supporting Information Facts

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