The contractors are putting the finishing touches on our new Gale Community Center at Howard and Marshfield, and the Chicago Park District has set a goal of opening the center by July 1st!
This is exciting news indeed. What makes this news even more exciting is that the center may be home to Rogers Park's first Boys and Girls Club. While a formal agreement hasn't been reached, I have hosted several discussions with the Park District and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago about the possibility of locating a club at the center. If an agreement can be reached, it would provide our community with significantly more programs and services than those provided by a traditional Park District fieldhouse.
This potential partnership between the Park District and the Boys and Girls Clubs would be a first of its kind and would combine the financial resources of the Park District with the strong and proven track record of the Boys and Girls Clubs of servicing at risk youth. Under the proposal, the Park District would continue to own the community center, but the Boys and Girls Clubs would manage the center on a day-to-day basis and provide a wide range of programming.
While the Boys and Girls Clubs specialize in providing programing for children and teens, they will also provide adult programs and make the center available for non-club-related activities, as well. The success of this partnership hinges on an agreement that results in a net gain for the community, over and above what the Chicago Park District alone would be able to provide.
Representatives from the Boys and Girls Clubs have also met with the principal of Gale Academy, Richard Glass, who is excited about hosting some Boys and Girls Club activities at the school.
Discussions with the Boys and Girls Clubs started last April after Rogers Park resident Dick Gregory, a board member of the Cotter Boys and Girls Club , informed me that the Cotter Club was looking for a new home. The Cotter Club is one of the most successful and financially sound Boys and Girls Clubs and has been operating at the Chicago Housing Authority's Lathrop Homes for many years. The Lathrop Homes will likely be closing in the next few years, and the Cotter Club had begun the process of looking for a new neighborhood.
We contacted Jim Ginderske of Neighbors for a Healthy Rogers Park, who has been working for several years to bring a Boys and Girls Club to Rogers Park, and State Senator Heather Steans, who secured state money to fund a summer camp at Gale Park. Together we brought the idea to Park District Superintendent Tim Mitchell, who embraced it.
As I indicated above, a final agreement has yet to be reached, and it's possible that some unforeseen issues may arise that will prevent the Boys and Girls Club from moving to Gale Park. But the discussions have progressed to the point where it appears that an agreement is likely. I am interested in hearing your thoughts and comments about a Boys and Girls Club in our neighborhood. Please feel free to share them with me by replying to this e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or calling my office at 773-338-5796.