In the journalism business you’re always, always supposed to give every side in every story an opportunity to tell its point of view.
I agree with this principle. I really do. I’ve been practicing it for what seems like forever, enabling me to have many joyous conversations with various city spokespeople through the years.
Which leads me to today’s article in the Tribune about the impact the Olympics would have on our parks. With example after example, the story shows how the games will limit the access of ordinary citizens to public space as Mayor Daley turns the parks into construction zones. It’s one of my favorite themes; I’m glad to see the Tribune take it up.
In its effort to be fair, the Trib gives the Olympic planners an opportunity to explain how the public could benefit in the long run.
I’ll just parse one example that’s near and dear to my heart–one that the Trib apparently didn’t have the space to explore in detail.
Mayor Daley’s planning to install an enclosed cycling track over in Douglas Park. To do so, he and his planners will have to tear down the existing Collins High School basketball court and swimming pool, which taxpayers just spent $30 million in property taxes rebuilding.
Not to worry, say the planners. When the games are over they’ll convert the velodrome into a multisport facility that will include a swimming pool, a basketball court, and an indoor running track. So the public won’t be losing anything–there will actually be a net gain.
That’s the official version, at least. So let’s break it down. First of all, the public will be losing something–use of the existing pool and gym, which we we just spent the aforementioned $30 million fixing up, for at least three years while the city builds the velodrome and uses it in the games.
Second of all, the multiuse facility is not exactly a slam dunk. The plan is to take a swimming pool out of the Olympic aquatics center they’re building in Washington Park, load the pool onto a truck, drive the truck to Douglas Park, take the pool off of the truck, and install it in the field house.
Then they’re going to build a running track and a basketball court–you know, to make up for the pool and court they’re destroying in the first place.
And whatever it will cost to pay for all of this will come from money generated by the games.
I’ll be fair and say I’m sure it’s possible that all of this can happen.