By Terry Dean
Dec. 11 is the deadline for finalists vying for the Obama Presidential Library to submit their proposals to the Barack Obama Foundation for consideration.
Paul Norrington, a founding member of the North Lawndale group, whose site is among the four finalists, said he's confident his group will be chosen by the President and First Lady when they make their decision early next year.
The 12-person North Lawndale Presidential Library Committee partnered with the University of Illinois Chicago on the proposal. The other three finalists are the University of Chicago, Columbia University in New York, and the University of Hawaii. The finalists were announced in September. The North Lawndale group hosted a community meeting Nov. 22, in their West Side neighborhood concerning their proposal.
The Lawndale site covers 32 acres along Kostner Avenue between Roosevelt Road and West 5th Avenue. It's a sprawling, vacant piece of land in the section of North Lawndale known as "K-Town." The location is not far from downtown and is directly accessible to public transportation and the Eisenhower Expressway. The site is also surrounded by multi-ethnic communities — black and Hispanic in Little Village — unlike the other three finalists, Norrington told our sister publication, Austin Weekly News.
The site, he added, is also in close proximity to suburban communities, like Oak Park, which the library could benefit. North Lawndale, he said, has historic connections to the Jewish community, which comprised the neighborhood's population before African Americans moved in.
"I fully expect us to get the library; this is about not just developing the neighborhood, but the community," Norrington said.
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