Valerie Leonard.

I still don’t get the sense that the Mayor is putting equal weight on the West Side bid as he is the South Side bid for the Obama Presidential Library (OPL).

If the mayor wanted, he could have publicly announced that he would hold public hearings on the matter of the conveyance of the land to the Obama Foundation in the event the West Side site is the successful bidder.

He made a big deal out of announcing over several days that he would have the Park District to host hearings on the conveyance of its land to the city for OPL construction in the event the U of C is the successful bidder. There was a City Council resolution crafted for the conveyance of the park land that included language to the effect that the City Council supported both of the Chicago bids, but it is clear the resolution was more advantageous for U of C than UIC.

The article from UIC News indicated the mayor came to the West Side and met with elected officials and community leaders in front of the proposed West Side site for a photo-op. There were no quotes from our elected officials or community leaders. This event was clearly driven by the mayor and not our community.

After the photo-op, the mayor and our community leaders made a presentation at Sumner School during school hours. To the best of my knowledge, the general public was not allowed into this tightly controlled setting. At what point will the mayor and UIC hold a public hearing so the public can weigh in on the West Side proposal as we did for the South Side proposal?

As a result of the give-and-take and public discourse on the South Side, the city did develop a more reasonable proposal to acquire the park land in the event U of C is the successful bidder. On the UIC side, residents still have a number of questions that have not been answered.

Confrontation and negotiation are natural parts of the community development process and cannot be avoided. Residents’ questions should be answered sooner rather than later.