07 March 2007

Dear USOC: Go away.

I'm not the only person around here who does not support Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics, specifically the plan to build a stadium in Washington Park. But sometimes it feels that way. Or maybe it just feels like no one higher up is listening to the concerns of everyone who's lower down. Maybe it's time for me to get more involved in the community. I live, work, vote, and bike here, but not terribly much else. And yet I grumble about such things.

Yes, this is pertinent to the subject matter of my blog:

1. Are you a bicycle commuter? Think about your commute between home and work. Now imagine that the main Olympic stadium is less than a mile away from both. Of course, this assumes that I'll still be living and working here in 2016, but still--the traffic! the traffic! It's bad enough crossing the Midway Plaisance already!

2. The Friends of the Parks (see "reciprocal membership") raise a very good point:

"Washington Park, on the other hand, is not an abandoned site in need of redevelopment. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Washington Park is on the National Register of Historic Places. The open area currently proposed for the Olympic Stadium is now heavily used for baseball, soccer and cricket. These fields will be lost for years during construction and demolition, and the ballfields would be lost permanently if a 10,000 person sunken bowl remained at this location after the Games."

Not all open space is created equal. A designated park is not the same as a vacant lot, regardless of either's history or location. But in its Olympic plans the city is essentially treating open parkland like unused space, which I think sets a very, very bad precedent.


At 08 March, 2007 19:34, Blogger David Johnsen said...

Unfortunately, Mayor Daley probably considers his recent landslide victory as tacit support for his Olympic dreams. He's been schmoozing corporate backers to make it happen, and he really doesn't care what you or I think. If we lived in a democracy (as opposed to Richard II's kingdom), we would have had a referendum on the November or February ballot about whether to pursue the Olympics.

I agree that the whole "temporary stadium" plan is a monumental waste that painfully illustrates how misguided Daley's Soldier Field makeover was. And surely there are many plots of land better suited than an Olmsted-designed park (such as countless former industrial sites to the southeast). But as for your commute, come on, it's only two weeks. Forget the traffic and behold the spectacle of people from 200 countries coming to your little corner of the world. It's pretty cool when you think about it like that.

At 09 March, 2007 10:49, Blogger Jennifer said...

Well, before the spectacle there will be construction, but I suppose it wouldn't be any worse than the dozen or so different projects the University of Chicago has going on at any given time. Hey, I guess you're right.


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