A federal judge has rejected a request by activists to block construction of the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago’s Jackson Park, multiple media outlets are reporting.
WGN-TV reported the group, Protect Our Parks, had asked for an injunction in an attempt to bar preparation of the site for the $700 million project that includes a museum, library, and event space. The outlet reported the judge’s order essentially removes the last remaining roadblock for construction.
District Judge John Blakely wrote: "After considering the parties' briefs and oral argument, this court finds that plaintiffs have not met the standard for injunctive relief on their federal claims, and accordingly denies their motion for preliminary injunction."
A copy of the court document was posted by Politico. The outlet noted the park activists are considering an appeal.
Politico reported roadwork in the park is expected to begin by Aug. 16 with groundbreaking slated for September. The center is scheduled to open in 2025.
"We know many in the city and community are eager for us to continue our work to bring jobs and investment to the South Side and the ruling allows us to do just that," an Obama Foundation spokeswoman told Politico. "We have appreciated the voices of the many leaders who weighed in on this issue with the court to move the [Obama] center forward as the city focuses on its recovery efforts and steps to build a more inclusive economy."
It said the park activists maintain the center would cause "irreparable harm" by tearing up roads, cutting down trees, and diverting traffic into Hyde Park.
A separate lawsuit has been filed by the group, which claims the foundation did not conduct full federal reviews of alternative locations.
But legal experts said Thursday’s ruling by Judge Blakely will make it difficult for the parks group to win in court
In a statement, Protect Our Parks said: "While we are certainly disappointed in the court’s decision, we will review the full opinion and explore all available options, including immediately filing an appeal and seeking relief from the appellate court. In addition, we will continue to vigorously pursue and present our arguments in court in the coming weeks."
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