(1) the final plan for the Point that the City offered was genuinely good, but very few people have seen it (YOU probably haven't seen it, for instance, dear Reader),
(2) most people innocently believe the “Save the Point” group did a service for the community by putting the kibosh on the City's plan.
I now have anecdotal evidence of both (1) and (2), and his name is Alec Brandon. Alec is a student in the College who wrote an interesting online Maroon Op-Ed piece about how the activists in Hyde Park messed up by interfering with the Doctor’s Hospital deal.
But in that otherwise dead-on piece he dropped this one, disturbing line:
While the Point revetment was a fairly open-and-shut case -- the
city wanted to change public land for the worse -- tearing down the Doctors Hospital and putting in two hotels is far more complex.
This is how most people understand the Point controversy:
(a) On January 17th, 2001 the City proposed a revetment like the one we now have between 51st and 54th Street, which is inappropriate for the Point and relatively unattractive, to boot,
(b) a community task force succeeded in stopping that bad design through “activism,” and (apparently) with overwhelming public support.
That’s not even half the story.
What’s missing you ask? Well, exactly 6 years of wrangling between multiple parties: the City, the Park District, the Army Corps of Engineers, a couple of historic agencies, an original Task Force that worked hard to secure multiple concessions from the City, and a second Task Force (the "Save the Point" group).
Here's what you really don't know:
All of this wrangling culminated in a great design that the "Save the Point" group stubbornly (and somewhat hysterically) rejected out of hand -- a design that very few people have actually seen.
Over the next couple of weeks I'll tell you more about the history of the Promontory Point controversy. The story is big and cumbersome and messy -- it's far from Alec's "open-and-shut" case -- so you’re going to have to slog through a lot of details and get your hands dirty.
But before I do that, you really ought to familiarize yourself with the Compromise Plan that your neighborhood “activists” threw away, supposedly on your behalf.
Go forth. Read it now. Skedaddle.
Come back when you think you can accurately describe the Compromise Plan to the next well-meaning but misguided person you see with a Save the Point bumper sticker.