U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey threw out a lawsuit that attempted to block the Obama Presidential Center from being built in Jackson Park.
The lawsuit was brought by Protect Our Parks that alleged Chicago and its park district couldn’t legally transfer 20 acres of public land in Jackson Park to a private entity.
Lawyers for the city, however, said that there wasn’t anything illegal about using the Jackson Park lands.
“There can be no question that there are direct benefits,” Lawyer Michael Scordro said. “This is a museum that we should be grateful it is open.”
The Obama Foundation decided to house the center in Chicago in a nod to the former President and first lady’s ties to the city. The center will serve as a presidential library and include a lantern-shaped museum, public meeting space and an athletic center.
The center “surely provides a multitude of benefits to the public. It will offer a range of cultural, artistic, and recreational opportunities … as well as provide increased access to other areas of Jackson Park and the Museum of Science and Industry,” Blakey said.
“Everyone’s had their day in court. … There’s been no rush to judgment,” Blakey said before declaring there should be “no delay in construction. This case is dismissed.”
Those who have supported the construction of the center celebrated after the judge’s ruling.
“This library will be located where it is accessible to all Americans and the world,” longtime backer Leon Finney said. “This is a major victory for all people, regardless of race, color, or creed.”
Opponents of the center, however, said that they’re not giving up yet. They said they will appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
“It’s probably the most damaging decision we could possibly have,” Attorney Herbert Caplan told reporters. “This is probably the biggest land theft since the Indians were persuaded to turn over title of Manhattan to the Dutch for a handful of beads.”