Public works projects around the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago could cost Illinois taxpayers nearly $200 million, The Washington Examiner reported Saturday.
Illinois approved a $224 million legislature budget earlier this month that included $174 million for road work near the presidential center and $50 million for the Garfield Gateway rail project two miles away, the report said.
About $200 million of that total budget would come from state taxpayers. Half of the $50 million is funded through a 2016 Transportation Department grant.
The presidential center would sit in Chicago’s South Side neighborhood.
Some residents are worried about getting pushed out of their lower-income community because of the gentrification that could result from the center’s presence, The Examiner reported.
“Our streets run red with blood from gun violence even as nonprofits dedicated to violence prevention are woefully underfunded,” Rev. B. Herbert Martin, Sr. wrote in a letter to the Chicago Tribune last month. “Community members face eviction and displacement from their homes because of gentrification across our city.”
Martin, Sr. said there was “no justice” in asking taxpayers to fund the center.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, on the other hand, called the Obama Presidential Center a “transformational project” in a statement on the breaking ground ceremony for the metro stop Friday.
“Bringing the Obama Presidential Center to Chicago took leadership and vision, and we are gratified that our partners in Springfield also saw the potential for what this means for all of Illinois,” Emanuel said. “The state’s $174 million investment in infrastructure improvements near the Obama Center on the South Side of Chicago is money well spent.”
Part of the $25 million Transportation Department grant would also rehabilitate the original Garfield station house built in 1892 to serve a public purpose, such as a community space, Emanuel said.