Event summary provided by Jeanne Tubman, GoodSmith, Gregg & Unruh LLP
CREW CHICAGO hosted its monthly luncheon May 18 at the East Bank Club, featuring a timely panel discussion of the Chicago parkland in “A Tragedy of the Commons or a Breath of Fresh Air?” in front of an audience of over 100 attendees.
CREW CHICAGO member Danielle Meltzer Cassels of Vedder Price moderated the panel which featured Marshall Brown, Principal Architect and Urban Designer, Marshall Brown Projects, Bill Inman, Senior Vice President of Hitchcock Design Group, Juanita Irizarry, Executive Director, Friends of the Park, Bob O’Neill, President of Grant Park Conservancy and the Grant Park Advisory Council and Carol Summerfield, Chief Strategy Officer, Museum Revolution, part of Team Works Media Network.
In the face of the current controversy surrounding the proposed Lucas Museum, the panel engaged in a spirited discussion about the proper use and development of the Chicago parks: should the parks be an amenity focused on the needs and desires of the surrounding residents? Or, should the parks provide attractions which generate revenue and contribute to the City of Chicago’s reputation as a world class tourist destination?
Irizarry noted that the Lucas Museum could be located close to the proposed lakeside site near the present Museum Campus, without using lakefront Chicago park space, and argued that planning for the lakefront parks is currently driven by the desire to generate revenue and draw tourists, rather than addressing the needs and concerns of Chicago residents. O’Neill pointed to the success of Grant Park, both as green space and as an attraction offering a music venue, skating park and an outdoor art display which has generated millions of dollars in revenue for Chicago. O’Neill further asked how the City could say yes to the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium and then say no to the proposed Lucas Museum.
Inman concluded the discussion by noting that there will be a constant search for park funding, but that Chicago can certainly boast of a world class park system.