Olympic protesters take their concerns to chairman

On Wednesday, about 100 protesters made up of community and labor groups marched outside the downtown office of Chicago 2016 Chairman Patrick Ryan to voice their concerns about the city bidding for the Olympics.

On Wednesday, about 100 protesters made up of community and labor groups marched outside the downtown office of Chicago 2016 Chairman Patrick Ryan to voice their concerns about the city bidding for the Olympics. The protest was organized by the Coalition for an Equitable Olympics 2016, a Chicago non-profit organization, whose main concern is to ensure residents living around proposed Olympic sites, like the 37-acre Michael Reese Hospital & Medical Center campus at 2929 S. Ellis Ave., will not be displaced. “We have sent two letters to Mr. Ryan as much as a month ago. To this day, we have not even had the courtesy of a formal response,” said James Long, a Coalition for Equitable Olympics 2016 member.  “We have expressed that we are not against bringing the Olympics to Chicago. We are concerned, however, that residents of the impacted communities benefit and residents not be displaced.” But some residents have said they are now breathing a sigh of relief over the latest development surrounding the proposed $1.1 billion Olympic Village project in Bronzeville. Mayor Richard M. Daley said while he still favors building the Olympic Village on the Michael Reese Hospital site after it closes this year, he is open to alternative locations. “In negotiations, you have to play hardball. You cannot be weak in regards to any negotiations. You can’t give up on it,” Daley said. “You keep working at it. If that doesn’t (work), you look at other sites as well. We have a lot of options.” But the city may not have a choice but to look elsewhere if it cannot negotiate cleanup costs with the property’s owner St. Louis-based Medline Industries. Originally, the city estimated the cost at $20 million, but that has since ballooned to $32 million and could end up being higher. Developers said other possible Olympic Village locations include building near the McCormick Place or south of 31st Street on land owned by Draper & Kramer Inc. Chicago is competing against Tokyo, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro for the summer games. A decision on where the 2016 Olympics will be held is expected by fall 2009.

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