Jackson Park Gates
August 25, 2021: CPD Installs Gates
New JPAC proposal would heighten voting membership requirements (Hyde Park Herald, December 25, 2021)
After Obama Center Brings Extra Attention, Jackson Park Council Could Make It Harder To Vote On Critical Issues (Block Club Chicago, December 2, 2021)
JPAC elections draw interest after Wooded Island gate controversy (Hyde Park Herald, November 2, 2021)
Park District takes the wrong path to protect Jackson Park’s Wooded Island (Chicago Sun Times, September 12, 2021)
Installation of Gates at Wooded Island Gets Mixed Reaction (Hyde Park Herald, August 27, 2021. Updated September 3, 2021)
Jackson Park’s Wooded Island To Be Gated, Locked At Dusk To Stop ‘Criminal Activity,’ Park District Says (Block Club, August 27, 2021)
Mourning Lost Sunsets (Letter to the Editor, Hyde Park Herald, August 30, 2021)
What are the Priorities in Jackson Park? (Letter to the Editor, Hyde Park Herald, August 30, 2021)
An Exclusionary Trend (Letter to the Editor, Hyde Park Herald, September 2, 2021)
The Importance of Public Park Access (Letter to the Editor, Hyde Park Herald, September 2, 2021)
Our Letter to the Park District
Dear Chicago Park District,
We are writing to ask that you immediately remove the gates recently installed on the north and south bridges to Wooded Island in Jackson Park, as described in the 8/25/21 Jackson Park Improvement Update (https://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/about-us/news/jackson-park-improvement-update). Restricting access to Wooded Island will not improve community safety; in fact, public spaces are safer when more people are around. Closing off the island only further restricts the limited number of safe walking routes through the park, which is both directly counter to the purpose of the park and will actually decrease public safety in the area.
Sunrise and sunset are some of the most beautiful times to enjoy the park’s nature areas and to observe its wildlife. For decades, the Wooded Island has been a destination for birdwatchers (https://www.chicagoaudubon.org/new-events/2020/3/14/wooded-island-bird-walk), who often visit near dawn or dusk because those are the most active times for many birds. Additionally, many people walk in Wooded Island after dusk or before dawn because of work schedules. Locking the park at these times prevents people who work second and third shift from enjoying one of the island’s primary purposes.
As users of Jackson Park, we are deeply concerned about the Park District’s focus on and financial investment in restricting access to a popular location rather than making the park more enjoyable by repairing historic Clarence Darrow Memorial bridge, the two underpasses to the lakefront that are nearly always flooded, and several buildings in serious disrepair. The Park District needs to gather input from the broader local community, not just the small number of people who are able to attend monthly Jackson Park Advisory Council meetings, to understand how we use the park, what public safety issues are most pressing to us, and how we believe they should be addressed.
We love Jackson Park, the Wooded Island, and the Japanese Garden, and many of us spend time there every day. Please remove the gates so we can continue enjoying one of Chicago's most beloved public spaces.