LONG-AWAITED LAKE­FRONT PARK COM­ING CLOSER TO RE­AL­ITY

Lake­front project that would honor city founder takes big strides with soil cleanup, ten­ta­tive fund­ing ap­proval

Chicago Sun-Times - - CHICAGO SUN TIMES - BY MITCH DUDEK,

Coun­cil com­mit­tee OKs $5 mil­lion to fund plan­ning, de­sign of project that would honor DuSable and has been plagued by prob­lems, in­clud­ing ra­dioac­tive soil

A decades-long ef­fort to take a pre­miere patch of the lake­front and build a park to honor Jean Bap­tiste Point DuSable, the Black man who founded the city of Chicago, inched closer to the fin­ish line this week.

On Thurs­day, a City Coun­cil com­mit­tee OK’d $5 mil­lion for the plan­ning and de­sign of DuSable Park, with a full Coun­cil vote as early as next month.

The land, at the mouth of the Chicago River near Navy Pier, was des­ig­nated for use as a park in 1987 by Mayor Harold Wash­ing­ton, but the project has run into a num­ber of prob­lems over the years, not the least of which was pol­luted soil.

In July, the city fin­ished an en­vi­ron­men­tal cleanup of the 3.25-acre plot.

It had been con­tam­i­nated with tho­rium, a ra­dioac­tive ma­te­rial used by a Streeter­ville gas lamp com­pany nearly 100 years ago to en­sure a brighter glow.

This sum­mer, the site has been made level and seeded, fur­ther fu­el­ing the cu­rios­ity of in­nu­mer­able Lake­front Trail users who for years have glanced east and won­dered: Why the heck isn’t that land put to use?

One rea­son: The park’s fate is tied to the fate of an­other build­ing project not far away, on the other side of Lake Shore Drive, where plans for the once-her­alded 2,000-foot-tall Chicago Spire fa­mously fell apart, leav­ing a gi­ant hole, 76 feet deep, in the ground.

Since 2014, the Spire site has been in the hands of Re­lated Mid­west, a New York-based de­vel­op­ment firm that plans to build two smaller apart­ment tow­ers there. Re­lated Mid­west also has pledged $10 mil­lion to build the park.

Re­lated Mid­west plans to break ground in 2021; the first tower is slated for com­ple­tion in 2024 or 2025, ac­cord­ing to a com­pany spokes­woman.

The city is re­quir­ing con­struc­tion on DuSable Park be com­pleted be­fore any res­i­dents would be al­lowed to move into the build­ing.

“It fi­nally feels real, to be hon­est,” said Heather Glea­son, di­rec­tor of plan­ning and con­struc­tion for the Chicago Park District. “I think the most ex­cit­ing part is hon­or­ing

DuSable’s his­tory and his con­tri­bu­tions to the city.”

City of­fi­cials ex­pect a wide range of in­put on how to best honor DuSable at the park.

“There’s never been a ques­tion that there shouldn’t be a park or memo­ri­als to him. I think this is some­thing that I’m hop­ing we can all rally around. I think if any­thing, we might de­bate on what the proper rep­re­sen­ta­tion is,” Glea­son said.

There are no plans to in­clude a play­ground at the park. It’s en­vi­sioned as more of a pas­sive space with benches, light­ing and path­ways.

Later this year or early next year, the park district plans to be­gin seek­ing com­mu­nity feed­back on the de­sign, Glea­son said.

A lo­cal rap­per al­legedly told de­tec­tives he thought mem­bers of his own gang were go­ing to kill him, so he fired his gun off to scare them.

But 25-year-old Jermy Terry ended up shoot­ing and killing an in­no­cent by­stander in­stead on May

16, Cook County prose­cu­tors said Fri­day.

Terry, who goes by the name of “Tiga Sane” and is seen in nu­mer­ous YouTube videos hold­ing guns, said he only wanted to send out “pop shots” in the air and didn’t mean to shoot 32-year-old Jerry Mont­gomery, prose­cu­tors said.

Terry al­legedly said there was a hit out on him and he thought his fel­low In­sane Vice Lords were go­ing to “snake him,” prose­cu­tors said.

But video footage of the shoot­ing in Austin paints a dif­fer­ent pic­ture, prose­cu­tors said.

Terry was cap­tured on video that night on the cor­ner of Leam­ing­ton Street and Mon­roe

Av­enue, peer­ing down the street at two fel­low gang mem­bers stand­ing near the en­trance to a lot, prose­cu­tors said.

Terry waited at the cor­ner for a few mo­ments be­fore al­legedly pulling out a gun with an ex­tended magazine. He then hid the weapon be­hind his back and ad­justed his hood be­fore pop­ping out from the cor­ner and fir­ing sev­eral rounds down the street to­ward the two men, prose­cu­tors said.

Mont­gomery, who hap­pened to be walk­ing down the side­walk to­ward Terry, was di­rectly in the path of the bul­lets and was struck in the chest in the first block of South Leam­ing­ton Av­enue, prose­cu­tors said.

Video footage clearly shows Terry’s face — which de­tec­tives rec­og­nized — as he ran with the gun through an al­ley, prose­cu­tors said.

Mont­gomery was pro­nounced dead at Stroger Hospi­tal.

Terry was or­dered held with­out bail for Mont­gomery’s mur­der.

DuSable Park, near Navy Pier. Com­ple­tion of the project has been slow — it was des­ig­nated as a park site in 1987. PAT NABONG/SUN-TIMES

SUN-TIMES FILES

Jean Bap­tiste Point DuSable

Jermy Terry

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