The ongoing, seemingly never-ending, legal battle over the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art could be coming to an unfortunate conclusion. The proposed museum was to be built on lakefront property in Chicago — on land that is currently a parking lot — but plans were halted due to a lawsuit by a small environmental group, Friends of the Parks. They maintain the land is protected and an alternate location should be considered.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel did exactly that — proposed a new location, still on the lakefront. The new proposal involved replacing outdated convention space with the Lucas Museum. Friends of the Parks has raised objections to that site as well.
In response, Lucas’ wife, Mellody Hobson, has issued the following statement:
“My husband and I have worked in earnest for two years, side-by-side with every relevant city agency, community leader, and policy maker, to give what would be the largest philanthropic gift to an American city in the 21st century. From the beginning, this process has been co-opted and hijacked by a small special interest group. When the Friends of the Parks sued the city in order to preserve a parking lot, we were offered a different and feasible solution—the replacement of an underutilized and outdated convention space that would also add more than 12 acres of new parkland. Yet, even with this additional park space, an organization that claims to ‘preserve, protect, improve and promote the use of parks and open space’ now opposes this as well. While they claim to be a ‘strong steward of Chicago and a partner to its progress,’ their actions and decision rob our state of more than $2 billion in economic benefits, thousands of jobs and countless educational opportunities for children and adults alike.
As an African-American who has spent my entire life in this city I love, it saddens me that young black and brown children will be denied the chance to benefit from what this museum will offer. As Chair of the Board of After School Matters, which serves 15,000 public high school students in Chicago and has more demand than can ever be met, I have seen firsthand what art can do to spur imagination and creativity, heal the soul and advance society—something so needed right now. This is a city of big shoulders and a metropolis that is second to none. In refusing to accept the extraordinary public benefits of the museum, the Friends of the Parks has proven itself to be no friend of Chicago. We are now seriously pursuing locations outside of Chicago. If the museum is forced to leave, it will be because of the Friends of the Parks and that is no victory for anyone.”
It appears frustration over this whole debacle is taking its toll, and you can’t fault George Lucas and Mellody Hobson for wanting a resolution — even if it means leaving Chicago behind. If that happens, it will be a sad day indeed….Powered by Sidelines