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A Chicago nonprofit filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday to block construction of the Obama Presidential Center, claiming the organizers diverted the center’s purpose away from operating as a presidential library.
Protect Our Parks filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court Monday, seeking to prohibit Chicago city agencies from approving construction on the project in Jackson Park and bar the city from awarding control of the Obama center’s proposed location to the Obama Foundation, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The lawsuit states that the Obama Foundation strayed from its original plan to house a federally controlled Obama Presidential Library and is using public parkland for private use.
The Obama Foundation announced several months ago that the proposed site on designated historic parkland would not be administered by the National Archives and Records Administration and would not function as a presidential library to house records, manuscripts, and papers from the Obama White House.
The suit claims that it is against the law and park district code for a “non-governmental private entity” to use public parkland for a private facility and accuses the city of transferring public land to a private entity for “virtually no compensatory return.”
The lawsuit comes before the Chicago Plan Commission’s meeting on Thursday to consider zoning applications and other materials submitted by the Obama Foundation for the project’s approval, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Former President Barack Obama’s presidential center has had its fair share of opposition from critics who say the proposed center—which would include a 450-space parking lot, a recording studio, basketball courts, and a children’s play garden—would not provide benefits to the local community.
In January, more than 100 University of Chicago professors and neighborhood activists signed a letter stating the center would take away land available to develop new restaurants or businesses because the remaining land around the proposed center is taken up by the University of Chicago and an existing museum.
The proposed center would also cost taxpayers a pretty penny. City officials announced in February the center would cost taxpayers $175 million.