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Friends of the Parks wins early court victory in battle against Lucas museum

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Friends of the Parks – the campaign group attempting to halt development of George Lucas’ museum project – has scored an early victory in the legal proceedings after a federal judge ruled that a lawsuit against the project could go forward and that the state of Illinois might have to change the law for the museum to be realised.

Following the ruling by US district judge, John Darrah, museum officials released a statement saying they remained “committed to and focused on building the Lucas Museum in Chicago.” Darrah ruled that the nonprofit Friends of the Parks has standing to sue and that he issue required judicial intervention, adding that “case law suggests action by the Illinois General Assembly is required to initiate the transfer of public land held in trust for all the citizens of Illinois,” meaning that the city and park district would transfer the public land to the private museum.

Commenting following the ruling, Cassandra Francis, president of Friends of the Parks, said: “While we are very supportive of the Lucas Museum coming to Chicago, we oppose its siting on lakefront public open space.

“We believe the siting of the Lucas Museum in this lakefront location contradicts the public trust doctrine and its central principle that the general public is the beneficiary of this public lakefront parkland. The Lucas Museum is not a public use.”

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, was unveiled in November last year after Star Wars and Indiana Jones creator, George Lucas selected Chicago to be the museum’s home. The park district signed a preliminary agreement with Lucas last September, proposing the 17-acre site, now a parking lot, to house the museum.

Beijing-based MAD has been selected as principal designer for the project, while Chicago-based Studio Gang will work on the landscape. In addition, VOA Associates, based in Chicago, will serve as the executive architect and lead the implementation of MAD’s design.

The museum will house a collection that includes examples of the special effects pioneered by Lucas and memorabilia such as the original Darth Vader costume. Lucas’ has said he would be open to a move to Los Angeles should the Chicago plans fall through.

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Friends of the Parks – the campaign group attempting to halt development of George Lucas’ museum project – has scored an early victory in the legal proceedings after a federal judge ruled that a lawsuit against the project could go forward and that the state of Illinois might have to change the law for the museum to be realised.
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