Keeping retirement weird. The myth of the parking lot.

We joined some friends last night in Millennium Park on the City’s Lakefront to hear the Grant Park Symphony play Mahler’s 6th.

I read the program and it said the Mahler symphony was supposed to be tragic and had something to with with his daughter, nicknamed “Putzi,” who died at five years of age. Or maybe I read the program wrong. It was in a very small font and it was very hard for an old guy to read.

No matter. It was a beautiful night to celebrate the summer and Chicago parks. Even paying $35 to park in one of the privatized Grant Park parking lots seemed worth it to be with friends, drink some wine and hear allegedly tragic music.

I had posted the words, “a win” on Facebook earlier in the day in response to George Lucas’ decision to take his Star Wars museum back to California.

My friend Richard reacted on Facebook with concern for the construction jobs that would be lost now that Rahm couldn’t build this rich man’s bauble on our Lakefront.

When I mentioned Richard’s concern to Anne, she asked, “Doesn’t it take as many construction workers to build a building off the Lakefront as it does to build one on the Lakefront?”

Anne has the common sense of a woman who has figured out how  to live with someone like me for over 40 years. She understands the terms for compromise.

The rich just don’t think in terms of compromise. This morning’s Sun-Times explained Lucas’ position. 

We see no reason to blame George Lucas, we’d like to add. Friends of the Parks repeatedly accused Lucas of “holding the city hostage” to get a lakefront location for his museum, but there was no hostage. Lucas simply laid out his terms, take it or leave it. Fair enough.

Fair enough? “Take it or leave it” has never seemed to me to be a good bargaining position if you want to achieve an objective.

I explained to Richard that if we take the position that construction jobs trump everything else then what prevents the city from building anything they want on public space that was, in theory anyway, supposed to be “forever open, free and clear”? How about a 50 story condo on Montrose Beach?

Ulysses would hate that, by the way.

It is his favorite beach.

Then there is the Myth of the Parking Lot. 

The Sun-Times used it in their headline of their editorial this morning attacking Friends of the Park (Disclosure: I am a dues paying member of FOTP and have a mad crush on its leader, Juanita Irizarry).

Ugly Parking Lot Victorious over Lucas Museum.

Baloney. These were never the two choices.

Once again, the issue is much more than that. It is about who the city serves.

Who is our city for? Who are our schools for? Who are our parks for?

For those of us who use the parks, support the parks and defend the parks, these are not difficult questions.

Last summer we had to raise hell to keep the Park District from closing the historic and only in-city beach at Humboldt Park.

And we won.

A decade ago we had a sit-in at Unity Play Lot to keep the alderman from taking out a basketball court because she was afraid that playing basketball encouraged gang activity.

Aldermen often have strange thoughts like that.

Over ten years ago we began meetings for community input into the Bloomingdale Trail, now called The 606. There should be dozens more like it in neighborhoods all over the city. Having more parks in every neighborhood is a pretty good way to keep them from being used for gentrification.

A billion dollar rich man’s bauble or a parking lot? That’s a false choice. It doesn’t take a billion dollars to turn a parking lot into a baseball diamond, a soccer field. Or just a field of grass.

2 Replies to “Keeping retirement weird. The myth of the parking lot.”

  1. Gee whiz, can’t you give me this one building on the lake front and I promise no more building for at least 100 years . I Promise!!!

  2. I did wonder why Lucas absolutely refused to consider any other location. Why they didn’t choose a location closer to all those black and brown children his wife wanted to serve? Heck, then even black and brown parents would have access to all the jobs the museum was supposed to generate.

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