Federal Actions In and Adjacent to Jackson Park: UPARR Amendment and Transportation Improvements Jackson Park, City of Chicago, Illinois
The City of Chicago (City) intends to make changes in and adjacent to Jackson Park that are a result of its approval of the construction of the privately funded Obama Presidential Center (OPC) and the adoption by the Chicago Park District (CPD) of the 2018 South Lakefront Framework Plan (SLFP). The City plans to allow for the closure of roadways and the construction of the privately funded OPC in Jackson Park and to make improvements to the roadway network in and around Jackson Park. These changes trigger the need for federal action and this Environmental Assessment pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) prepared for the National Park Service (NPS) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
The proposed OPC project would impact lands currently managed consistent with the Urban Park and Recreation Recovery (UPARR) (Title 54 U.S.C. Chapter 2005) program, under which federal funds were provided by grants for improvements to Jackson Park. Any property improved or developed with UPARR grant funds may not be converted to non-recreation uses without the approval of the NPS. NPS will review and consider whether to approve a partial conversion of use at Jackson Park pursuant to UPARR program requirements. Under the UPARR Act, NPS shall approve a partial conversion when it is in accord with the current Jackson Park recovery action plan or similar plan and only if recreation properties and opportunities of reasonably equivalent location and usefulness are provided (54 U.S.C. §200507).
Before approving the partial conversion by amending the UPARR grant agreements and adjusting the UPARR boundary, the NPS must evaluate the City's proposed UPARR partial conversion including the proposed replacement property and planned development of recreation opportunities to compensate for property lost because of the conversion in Jackson Park. NPS has no legal authority over the presence or physical aspects of the OPC in Jackson Park, such as the design, configuration, materials, or workmanship of those projects. NPS has a statutory obligation to review the recreational impacts of local decisions affecting UPARR-assisted parks, and to approve conversion proposals if the local government meets the conditions outlined in the Act.
Under Title 23 U.S.C., the FHWA administers the Federal-Aid Highway Program, which makes available federal funding to state departments of transportation and local agencies for roadway projects. As a result of planned road closures related in part to the development of the OPC, the City proposes to make certain roadway improvements in Jackson Park using Federal-Aid Highway Program funds and to make bicycle and pedestrian improvements for better access to Jackson Park.
Authorizations required by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) arise principally from the proposed transportation improvements by the City. The USACE is a cooperating agency in this Environmental Assessment.