[BCNnet] FYI - Sun Times article on planning for Northerly Island
Randi Doeker - Chicago
rbdoeker at yahoo.com
Tue Nov 10 07:32:31 CST 2009
FYI - Randi Doeker
Plans take new look at Northerly island
With 2016 dreams dashed, what should become of Meigs site?
November 10, 2009
BY LISA DONOVAN Staff Reporter ldonovan at suntimes.com
A month after Mayor Daley's Olympic team washed out in the race for the 2016
Games, the tide has shifted as planners focus on Northerly Island's
long-term place in the lakefront landscape.
Before Chicago lost to Rio de Janeiro in the Olympic contest, the Park
District was eyeing how to develop the 91-acre man-made island east of
Soldier Field, while making the former site of Meigs Field a temporary home
for Olympic venues for beach volleyball, the canoe and kayak slalom courses
and even an observation point for sailing contests.
Today, Chicago Park District officials are holding a public meeting downtown
to unveil a series of sketches for the site, pen-to-paper ideas that will
serve as a conversation starter, says Gia Biagi, director of planning and
development for the Chicago Park District. "We're not holding up a
particular concept," she said. "But looking at what are the components of a
The Park District hired a design team that includes Studio Gang Architects,
best known for the Aqua Building at the Lakeshore East site near downtown,
to sketch out ideas -- though officials did not release the cost of the
One thought is to extend the swimming and beach areas on the eastern edge of
the island. Another is to carve out portions of the "island" -- really a
peninsula -- creating bays or coves or even inland waterways.
A migratory bird sanctuary is likely, because the lakeshore is a favorite
resting and dining space as the animals move north and south, with walking
and exercise paths nearby so that city-dwellers and tourists alike could
take it in.
Planners are considering how to use the old airport's terminal and there is
even talk about re-calibrating Charter One Pavilion -- or creating another
venue -- to blend with the area's surroundings, a move that could set the
stage for controversy.
Erma Tranter, head of watchdog group Friends of the Parks, reiterated the
group's position that the temporary pavilion should be removed, allowing the
peninsula to retain its natural aesthetic.
Asked about Tranter's concerns, Biagi said: "We want to talk about all those
The Park District's focus is in step with Daley, who has said he'd like the
area to be an oasis filled with wildflowers, prairie grasses and trees.
"Now that the Olympics aren't coming here in 2016, the plan still needs to
move forward," said Bob O'Neill, who helped organize Tuesday's meeting and
is the president of the non-profit Grant Park Advisory Council.
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