Jan. 16, 2008 – Residents made it clear during a Lincoln Park Advisory Council community forum Wednesday, they are still unsure hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics will be a great experience for their neighborhood.
Guest speakers both for and against the Olympic games addressed the crowd at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Gyata Kimmons and Patrick Sandusky spoke on behalf of Chicago 2016 and Dr. Allen Sanderson from the University of Chicago offered an opposing viewpoint.
Residents, in turn, voiced their own concerns.
Kimmons and Sandusky emphasized the legacy that the summer Olympics would leave in Chicago and in Lincoln Park. Currently, the Northside neighborhood is the proposed site of the triathlon and tennis events. Existing tennis courts would be upgraded and improved, leaving Lincoln Park with better facilities after the games are over.
"Any place that we're going, we want to make sure it's better after we leave," said Kimmons, Director of Community Relations with the Chicago 2016 Olympics bid committee.
Sanderson countered that the bid committee and their attempts to get the games in Chicago were nothing more than "auto salesmen trying to sell you a car." He has written two articles on the negative economic impact the games would have on the city, and stated that their economic impact report was "totally without merit."
Charlotte Newfeld has worked at the migratory bird sanctuary located at Addison St. and Lake Shore Dr. in Lincoln Park for the past 12 years. As of right now, construction on the Olympics tennis venue would interfere with the wooded area she has lovingly tended to for over a decade.
"Who did your environmental impact study? Who went and looked at the situation of the migratory bird sanctuary?" questioned Newfeld. "Who is going to tell the birds, ‘Sorry, not these years, we're having Olympics tennis. Wait, come back when we're done.'"
Steve Quinn, a longtime member of the Lincoln Park Boat Club, worries that new facilities constructed for the summer games will render the 100-year-old historic building useless in the eyes of the park district.
"What happens when state of the art amenities compete with existing facilities?" asked Quinn. "The days of seeing boats coming up and down the lagoon will be gone."
Additional topics addressed by residents as potential issues included access to North Avenue Beach and the tennis centers in Lincoln Park during construction, as well as public transportation to accommodate the large crowds associated with the games.
Kimmons agreed to reach out to as many park district personnel and other officials as possible to resolve all of the neighborhood's concerns as quickly as possible.
Representing No Games: Chicago, Bob Quells encouraged more people to speak out against the bid and to "reject this BS project." No Games: Chicago has looked at past host cities and their poor economic state after the games to dissuade people from supporting the 2016 Olympics in Chicago.
"The day after the Olympics are done, these thieves will be gone," said Quells.
While it seemed that most people attended the meeting to express their uncertainties about hosting the games, there were some who support the bid committee and their efforts to bring the Summer Olympics to Chicago.
"People throughout the world think of Chicago as Al Capone's thing, that and Michael Jordan," said Vince Daley, a resident of Lincoln Park. "It'll be a positive thing for the city."
Kimmons encouraged the crowd to continue submitting any feedback about the proposed plans so all of the neighborhood's worries can be addressed. Members from the bid committee also plan on attending more community meetings in Lincoln Park and around the city to discuss as many resident concerns as possible.
"Don't feel that this is our last touch point," said Kimmons.
The Chicago 2016 Olympic bid committee will release their official bid book containing the city's plan for the games on Feb. 13. It will be available for review by the public on their website.
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