Neighborhood Activists Battle Children’s Museum Plan

Petitions distributed by network of volunteers yields thousands of signatures from area residents

The Chicago Children’s Museum (CCM) is considering a move from Navy Pier to Grant Park to accomodate expansion of the museum. The CCM drafted plans and studied the Daley Field House and the Daley Bicentennial Plaza location as the potential location for the new museum. As the plans were unveiled in Oct. 2005 and began to be discussed at community meetings, a strong opposition began to be formed by many New Eastside residents and users of the current facilities.

The Friends of Daley Bi (originally 4Kids) group was formed in Spring to help organize the opposition. Although the plan promises to replace the field house and skating rink for local use, the CCM would bring hundreds of thousands of additional visitors each year into the neighborhood which has already experienced a tremendous increase in both vehicular and pedestrian traffic with the ongoing Lakeshore East development and recent completion of Millenium Park including the Pritzker Pavilion and the Frank Gehry-designed BP Bridge which leads into the Daley Bicentennial Plaza.

The group helped to organize a neighborhood meeting with Alderman Natarus on May 10th to discuss the move. Flyers were passed out and delivered throughout the neighborhood and hundreds turned out for the meeting. At the conclusion of the meeting the Alderman promised to oppose to the plan. In recent weeks, the Alderman has appeared in interviews on both WBBM and Fox TV voicing the neighborhood’s opposition to the plan.

Petition Presented to Mayor Daley

The group’s next step was a petition drive to present to Mayor Daley. The drive netted almost 2,100 signatures by late June and was delivered to Natarus who said he would see that the Mayor would get them.

The CCM issue was originally on the agenda for the Chicago Plan Commission Meeting on Thursday, June 15. However, Natarus talked with Peter England, CEO of CCM, on June 6th and expressed that he would not like to see the CCM move to East Randolph. During the conversation, England mentioned that the CCM is also now considering a location just to the south along Monroe St. between Columbus Lake Shore Dr. This is the site of “The Green”, a mini-golf and restaurant open during summer months. England now plans to meet with Natarus to show new plans when they are ready and the issue will be brought before the Plan Commission at a later meeting. Opposition may come from boaters using Monroe Harbor who park close to LSD in the garage and might not be happy to lose those spaces to a museum.

Meta Brown, a local resident for over 20 years, started a blog entitled “Save Daley Bicentennial” ( ). She estimates that the proposed 100,000 sq. ft. underground structure is equivalent to three full floors of a large high-rise building. The architect’s plan to use as much natural lighting as possible in an underground structure could involve a significant above ground structure in either of the proposed locations.

The CCM hopes to open at a location by 2009 and keep the construction period brief to minimize disruption. Additional meetings are to be held with community groups and the Grant Park Advisory Council.cialis online deutschland buy cialis toronto cialis generic australia how can i buy cialis online
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