Last Friday, George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, announced he would not be building the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Chicago, saying that a brought by the advocacy group Friends of the Parks created too many delays.
We spoke with Friends of the Parks Executive Director Juanita Irizarry about the groups’ response to the news.
On the group’s response to those who argue they’re fighting to protect a parking lot
The reality is that in 1990 the city of Chicago made commitments to convert that space into a wonderful park called Burnham Park as part of the support for the expansion of McCormick space. The reason it’s a parking lot is because the city hasn’t lived up to its commitments to put fewer parking spaces and create more parkland in that area.
That site is located on public trust land which is protected by a more than 100-year-old law which says that that site belongs to every Illinoisan … so Friends of the Parks and our co-plaintiffs took advantage of that law to make sure that we keep our lakefront open, clear and free as much as possible.
On Chicagoans who blame Friends of the Parks for the museum leaving
We have many times invited the Lucas Museum to consider other, alternative sites in Chicago, so ultimately we believe that it is on Mr. Lucas for not being committed enough to Chicago to find a non-lakefront site.
On Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s handling of the situation
I think he created expectations for Chicagoans that were not realistic … he and Mr. Lucas are blaming us, as is Arne Duncan, for delays that actually came about because of their process. There actually was a March trial date on the books but because of all the delays created by the city’s motions this never went to trial.