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Lawsuit to block construction of Obama Presidential Center tossed out

By Calley Hair
A judge tossed out a lawsuit attempting to block construction of the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago’s historic Jackson Park on Tuesday.&nbsp;File Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/d77b7ea17202bce2bf7b7a4804fb66fa/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
A judge tossed out a lawsuit attempting to block construction of the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago’s historic Jackson Park on Tuesday. File Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

March 30 (UPI) -- A judge tossed out an attempt to block construction of the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago's historic Jackson Park over concerns it would adversely impact the environment.

Local non-profit Protect Our Parks led the lawsuit filed against the City of Chicago, the Obama Foundation, and other organizations and individuals last year, claiming that the environmental study linked to the project was flawed. U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey dismissed that suit on Tuesday, stating that the city "did not abdicate control or ownership" of the center's site.

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Blakey continued that the presidential center would provide public benefits like "furthering human knowledge and understanding, educating and inspiring the public, and expanding recreational and cultural resources and opportunities," CBS News reported.

Protect Our Parks attorney Richard Epstein said they plan to appeal the case in the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. He added that the organization was "deeply disappointed" by Blakey's ruling.

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"There remain ongoing challenges, and we will continue to defend our position vigorously by fully presenting our evidence and arguments in court," Epstein said in a statement reported by the Chicago Tribune.

A previous Protect the Parks lawsuit was dismissed in 2019; a federal appeals court later upheld that ruling.

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The latest lawsuit claims that federal agencies should have weighed alternative locations for the Obama center in order to avoid damage to the surrounding natural world. Chicago municipal officials and Obama Foundation leaders say that construction wouldn't have a significant impact on the environment, a claim that Protect the Parks disputes.

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Crews broke ground on the project in September. During the groundbreaking ceremony, former President Barack Obama said the city was where he "found a home," The Chicago Tribune reported.

"It feels natural for Michelle and me to want to give back to Chicago and to the South Side in particular, the place where she grew up and I came into my own," Obama said. "And the Obama Presidential Center is our way of repaying some of what this amazing city has given us."

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