Help save Navy Pier’s Crystal Garden
Update 10/16/21: Navy Pier no doubt rushed through the closing before they could be stopped by taxpayers. It’s not too late yet!!! Please contact people below!
If you’re a regular reader of this website (Thank you!!!) you may have noticed that I steer clear of politics. In this case I’ve decided to get involved because what Navy Pier is doing is a travesty to the Taxpayers of this city!
Navy Pier is closing the Crystal Garden to the Public
Navy Pier is going to close the lovely, free-to-all tropical garden, the Crystal Garden. They are going to turn it into a $50 per person exhibit that only rich people will be able to afford. It’s going to become “the next generation in immersive entertainment” Illuminarium. The tickets for the existing Illuminarium in Atlanta are $30-$50. That is, Navy Pier Inc is closing a lovely, free, publicly funded asset and turning it into an exhibit for rich people!
Visit Navy Pier
If you haven’t been to the Navy Pier lately I suggest you take a trip out there. I’m that rarity of Chicagoan who LOVES Navy Pier. It’s really somewhat converted from a “cheesy mall-by-the-sea” into something that should attract residents to visit on occasions other than taking their out-of-town guests there.
Yes it’s jam packed with tourists on a warm summer weekend days but at other times it’s empty and a lovely place to hang out. Take the bus there and walk along the south side and sit on a bench and watch to boats got by. Or grab a cocktail at Lirica (excellent new restaurant in The Sable hotel) or Maragritaville or Harry Caray’s. Bring your own food and beverages (non-booze) and have a picnic. There are tables and chairs along the south dock anyone can use. And take a stroll through the Crystal Garden. It’s a hidden gem. On cold and/or rainy days (pre-Covid) I sit in the Crystal Garden and read.
Background on the secret Navy Pier finances
Navy Pier is part of the MPEA (Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority) and it is funded by Chicago taxpayers. About a decade ago the MPEA spun Navy Pier off into a 501(c)(3) (not-for-profit organization) called Navy Pier Inc. When they did this they took the stance that because they are no longer a government entity they do not have to respond to FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests. So Navy Pier, Inc. hides their finances from the public. The Better Government Association (BGA) has been suing Navy Pier, Inc. for 7 years !!! to get access to their financial information. The BGA keeps winning in court and the Pier keeps fighting. The Pier is using taxpayer dollars to fund their legal expenses to hide their finances from the taxpayers. On top of that, according to the BGA, the taxpayers have contributed over $230 million dollars to Navy Pier, Inc. Read more about it here
Now the Pier says they need more money
Now they say that they need more money due to Covid. Okay so if that’s the case produce your audited financial statements! If the Pier is in trouble guess who bails it out? Taxpayers.
According to Block Club, Navy Pier, Inc.’s other excuse is that they already provide free green space – Polk Bros Park. Um that’s outside!
What you can do (Even if you never go to the Pier!)
Sign the petition I didn’t donate any money. The money goes toward change.org remaining ad-free.
Email Mayor Lightfoot at firstname.lastname@example.org
Email your Alderman and also Alderman Reilly 42nd Ward where the Pier is located. email@example.com. Find your Alderman
Email Ald. Gilbert Villegas 36th Ward According to Block Club Alderman Villegas is calling for City Council hearings on the Pier’s finances. firstname.lastname@example.org
This is what I’m saying in my emails:
Hello. As a taxpayer and voter I’m against the closing, to the public, of the taxpayer funded Crystal Garden at Navy Pier. I’m against it’s conversion to an exhibit that only rich people can afford.
Time is of the essence
I’m sure the Pier is racing to push this through so please if you can spend a few minutes and protest! It’s free!!!
- Navy Pier, Inc. is taxpayer funded.
- Navy Pier, Inc. says it needs more money due to Covid.
- Navy Pier, Inc. refuses to disclose their finances to the public.
- Navy Pier, Inc. wants to close the Crystal Garden to the public and convert it into a $50 per person exhibit.
- The Crystal Garden is a beautiful, free, taxpayer funded public asset.
- They need to cancel this or find an alternate location for the exhibit.
- Please take a few minutes and email everyone to help and try and save the Crystal Garden.
- Thank you.