"We urge the Obama Foundation to explore alternative sites on the South Side that could be developed with more economic benefits, better public transportation, and less cost to taxpayers", the professors wrote.
The Obamas hope that the center will be a new landmark and an economic engine for Chicago, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors, creating thousands of new jobs on the city's south side where they lived and worked for years.
Barack Obama may be the pride of University of Chicago, but a lot of heavy hitters there are strongly opposing current plans for his library.
"The people of Chicago were told they would get a presidential library administered by the National Archives, a federal facility, in exchange for the confiscation of historic parkland, listed in the National Register of Historic Places - instead, they're getting a privately-operated entertainment campus with a 235-foot-tall tower, a recording studio, auditorium and sports facility, and other amenities", Birnbaum said. Construction of a permanent architectural monument violates Olmsted's vision of a democratic urban park.
Critics of the project said the center will compromise the quiet, contemplative character of Jackson Park.
"At a time of increasing complexity and pressure in urban life, Chicago should be dedicated to preserving our public parks as open areas for relaxation and play for all its citizens", the letter states, criticizing the slated intrusion into the Midway Plaisance and Jackson parks. Ground on the Obama Presidential Center could be broken as soon as this year. New plans call for an underground parking garage at the Obama Center site. None of the funds will go back to the City to improve train lines and public transportation infrastructure. Again, this is a precious, historic urban park that ought to be preserved for future generations not given to a private entity for development into a parking lot. That's the most vital aspect of the Obama Presidential Center - creating spaces for people to connect and collaborate, to take home a piece of what you've learned together. The required widening of Lake Shore Drive alone is estimated to be over $100 million.
The letter closes with a blistering criticism of the project's estimated cost, which the professors argue will easily exceed $100 million and fall exclusively on the shoulders of the taxpayer.