Mysteriously tucked away in the Real Estate Guide of this week's Hyde Park Herald is a muddled article about the Point entitled "Learning the Latest about Promontory Point's Rescue." I'm a little alarmed by its contents -- which imply that the future of the Point is being decided in private meetings between Jack Spicer, Don Lamb, members of Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s staff, and the "third-party" representative, Horace Foxall.
My consolation is that the author, Crystal Fencke, got so many facts wrong or out of order, perhaps she's also misinformed about the nature of the meetings. For an accurate timeline of the Point Controversy, read this.
The Herald article begins with a self-assured proclamation that Robert Mugabe might enjoy: "The preservation of Promontory Point is clearly in view."
Honestly, the word "preservation" is a Point Savers red herring. The Point must be completely rebuilt. This process is not about historic preservation. It's about rebuilding, using a design and materials that maintain the character and uses of the site.
It goes on to say, "The limestone revetment will be restored."
Huh? We've already established that the final plan must have a concrete and steel base to meet the Army Corps' engineering standards.
"In 2006, Promontory Point made Preservation Chicago's List of Most Endangered Places."
Preservation Chicago is a private organization with no state authority. It's not the same as the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA), which is an actual player in the Point controversy. Fencke may as well have told you that my private organization, Fama Family Swimmers, has placed Promontory Point on its list of Build the Frickin' Compromise Plan Already.
"The Chicago Park District, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the City of Chicago signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior's standards to ensure that the project would protect the historic value of the structure."
Here she perpetuates a classic Point Saver myth that some omniscient Preservation God duped the City into signing an agreement to protect the old revetment. The truth is that the City instigated the MOA way back in 1993 -- to block the Army Corps' first proposal of a rubble mound. Furthermore, the language of the MOA does not specify the building material, it merely says that the step design must be retained.
"The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency stopped the project."
The IHPA never stopped the Point project. And here's a little-known fact: the IHPA has actually approved the Compromise Plan which the Point Savers rejected out of hand. It's the Point Savers who have never stipulated any criteria that would make a proposal acceptable.
"Only Promontory Point and the area around Diversey Harbor have been left alone."
Construction along the Diversey Harbor stretch is proceeding, with something inferior to the Compromise Plan.
"[When the City unveiled its Compromise Plan] the community didn't accept this 'concreting over' of the sensitive historic site."
The Compromise Plan isn't a "concrete" plan -- it's a mixed use of concrete and the existing limestone blocks -- and the "community" didn't reject it, the Point Savers did it on our behalf, in a room that they stacked with a misinformed crowd, including children with picket signs. Even the Point Savers' own architectural proposal uses abundant concrete.
"The third-party review will be a three-day charette, or engineering planning meeting, with the community. "
An intensive engineering charette is going to include the "community?" I find this hard to believe, because until now Obama has been saying that the third-party review would be completely independent. Besides, two people do not a community make.
"The funds for the independent study have been authorized by the House and Senate, and now they're just waiting for approval."
Or the funds have already been appropriated, depending on which issue of the Herald you read. No one really understands this process, but the Herald likes to keep us updated anyway!
Don Lamb says that Horace Foxall (the head of the third-party review) is a "super, super guy."
I wonder how long Mr. Lamb's affection will last, given that Mr. Foxall is an Army Corps guy from Buffalo. Will Foxall overturn the Compromise Plan, which the Army Corps helped develop?
In the end there are only two outcomes from this charette: 1) more delays, and/or 2) approval of the Compromise Plan with tiny revisions, some of which may be bad (for example, the Point Savers have never been much interested in swimming access).
If #2 happens, you can bet the Point Savers will be claiming credit for a "preservation design"...and sweeping the eight years of unnecessary delay that they imposed on us under the rug.