Protecting the Garden and the Ancient Oaks

Below, we list some of the documentation of the most recent battle to protect the garden.  In the end, the oaks were saved, but we lost the northeast garden, created by students by hand so many years ago.

The 2018 threat to the garden was not the only time the garden has been threatened with destruction, defended, and part of it destroyed in violation of promises.  The city also vowed not to destroy any of the garden when the first annex was built, but broke that promise and bulldozed the “classroom garden”, including two young oaks dedicated by the school community to two young Waters students who had died.  Many volunteers and community members felt very angry and hurt by this.


Nov 21, 2018 Waters Garden Newsletter with updates from Pete Leki and Julie Peterson about the garden and how the siting of the new building will affect it.

Oct 25th, 2018: Letter to CPS board from Waters Local School Council Chair, Erica Smith.  That letter is available for download here.   intro: “Friends, I attended today’s Board of Education meeting downtown and made a statement in support of building a new annex that does not affect our native garden. I just want to make sure we stay on their radar. I believe we can be thankful and vigilant at the same time.”

Oct 22, 2018 Alderman Pawar has spoken with the ecology staff (Mr Leki and Ms. Peterson) and invited us to be at this initial stakeholders meeting.  We have shared with Ald. Pawar and the community this map and key to the school gardens. 

Oct 19, 2018  Letter from Alderman Pawar, LSC Chairperson Erica Smith, and  Principal Kipp    download letter here

"the south end of the school grounds — where the Bur Oaks and native plant garden is located — will no longer be considered as a potential site for the new annex. This option is considered “off the table.”"  

In addition, we will meet with key stakeholders to discuss other site options, space and programmatic needs. Following that, a public meeting will be announced.

Oct 19, 2018 WBBM update: CPS Backs off plan to build annex atop school garden

Oct 19, 2018 Waters Garden newsletter

Oct 19, 2018  From Erica Smith, our Local School Council Chairperson:  Good news: “Friends, I am happy to report that the prospect of building in the garden is off the table! Huge thanks to Alderman Pawar for his steadfast support, and Principal Kipp for her unwavering support of the Ecology program.”

Oct 18, 2018  NBC5 Chicago School Outcry Might Save Popular Community Garden From Demolition  (interview with Pete Leki)

and the later NBC update  School Garden Controversy Draws Protests  (interview with Julie Peterson and others)  Here’s the link to the combined piece, which has additional text and both videos.

This links to a compilation of news video pieces from the websites below. 

 Oct 18, 2018 Lincoln Square Parents Fought For New School Annex, But Now It Could Destroy A Beloved Garden 

Oct 17, 2018 CBS: CPS plans to demolish an old urban garden in Lincoln Square as part of its capital project.

Oct 17, 2018 WBBM: Chicago School’s Garden May Be In Jeopardy

note: We are aware that the two last links no longer work. CBS and WBBM deleted the pages. We’ve sent a request for the media file for our records.

ONE MORE THING: Here’s one more video showing the many many times CPS contractors promised to protect the garden, 10 years earlier, in 2008, and then the destruction of parts of the garden, including memorial trees planted for two children who died, their mothers attended the planting and school ceremony and then feeling the disrespect and hurt as the trees were killed with no notice, no apology.