Presidential Center meeting crowd met with surprise Obama appearance

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

On Tuesday in Chicago, former President Barack Obama surprised many at a public meeting after chatting on stage for close to an hour at the meeting that desired more input on the Obama Presidential Center planned for the city’s South Side.

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According to NBC5, it was not made public that Obama would attend the McCormick Place meeting, which started at about 6 p.m.

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Obama continued to pledge transparency “‘fairer than fair,’ to quote Harold Washington,” in regards to some debated issues on the center.

“At some point our intention is to get moving on this thing,” he informed the crowd.

In the spring, plans will go to the City Council.

Around the same time, pilot programming for young people will also be launching, Obama said.

The meeting included the current overview of plans for the center, followed by breakout meetings on topics such as: buildings and landscape design, programming, economic impact, plans for a new track and turf field, as well as Chicago Department of Transportation proposals surrounding the Jackson Park center.

Just hours before the meeting, the Chicago Park District announced that the Obama Foundation signed an agreement Tuesday to fund the new artificial turf field, replacing the Jackson Park Athletic Field.

The park district said in a statement The Obama Foundation will donate up to $3.5 million to the Chicago Park District to cover the construction of the field. The park district will also be responsible for design, construction, and maintenance.

The project is slated to be completed by Fall of 2018.

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The message Obama told Tuesday’s crowd of young people was short and to the point.

“This is a sign I can change the world,” he said. “This is more important than any legacy I could have.”

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