Chicago City Council votes to transfer parkland for Obama library

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 18, 2015 2:11 PM

By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Chicago City Council, hoping to boost the chances of landing President Barack Obama's presidential library for his hometown, on Wednesday unanimously approved the use of land in two parks near the president's home.

The land is near the University of Chicago and would be transferred if the school's bid for the presidential library is accepted. Obama was a law professor at the university before his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004.

The University of Illinois at Chicago also has a proposal for the library that did not require a land transfer. The Barack Obama Foundation also is considering proposals from New York's Columbia University and the University of Hawaii.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who served as Obama's chief of staff during his first term as president. "This cannot slip through our fingers."

Emanuel proposed the transfer plan, which was previously approved by the Chicago Park District.

"It will bring a lot of prominence to the city," added Alderman Walter Burnett Jr. "It will be a great inspiration."

Burnett said they could build another park, but not another Obama presidential library.

The foundation will make a final recommendation to the president and first lady. The Obamas plan to wait until after an April 7 mayoral election to announce their decision, according to local media reports.

Emanuel is running for a second term as mayor against challenger Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, a Cook County commissioner.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Will Dunham)