The crowd was adamantly opposed to a harbor of any shape or form. Representative Harry Osterman took time away from the recent birth of his second child to come speak for his constituents and against a marina for 400 boaters. The chastisement was loud and clear, with standing ovations. His speech was one of his finest according to many in the audience.
Osterman demanded that the Park District work with both the Rogers Park and Edgewater communities to begin a comprehensive community planning process.
This resulted in both Rob Rejman and Chris Gent agreeing to work with the Conservancy in their effort next February to sponsor a series of forums in the community. These forums will be the next phase of taking ideas that have been gathered from hundreds of citizens over the past 18 months and begin conceptualizing the Plan of Rogers Park - a vision for our parks and beaches. Getting this process going not only insures that future marinas don't get proposed up north but also that projects- such as Gale - get prioritized and that Rogers Park gets its share of Park District funding.
A representative speaker for Representative Jan Schakowski was barely audible above the din. He claimed that none of the $800,000 in funding was spent on these marina studies. OK, next? Jennifer Clark, the Loyola PR spokeswoman (who sits on the RPCC board) claimed that the University did not endorse this proposal.
Another person asked the cost of the studies. An answer was finally emitted that the cost amounted to $358,000 for the whole lakefront harbor series. Granted, the harbors would be revenue producing…at some point, but in the interim…the monies could be spent on more pressing issues for this area. For example, some of my die- hard North of Howard Gale Field House fans came to the meeting with shovels and earth breakers hoping to garner attention to the on-going excuses. Gale Field House is allegedly $1.8 million over budget after nearly 10 years of gaffes and misinformation.
Several in the audience chose not to wait for their turn to speak and persistently interrupted the ‘planned drama’. The interruptions distracted and disturbed the presenters. The proposal of a marina aka harbor disturbed the audience…a balance was attained at any cost.
Don Gordon of the Rogers Park Conservancy gave an eloquent reading from Daniel Burnham’s ‘plan’ to a standing ovation. Burnham should be required reading for any planner in the City of Chicago.
There was little else for the ‘drama presenters’ to do at that point but to proclaim the harbor dead in the water. With that available funding, could they complete long ignored projects before jumping to the next profit maker for the higher economic classes who don’t live here?
Will they get the message and leave our beaches alone?