Monday, June 23, 2008

NOTIFICATION (NOT CONSULTATION) TO THE NoH NEIGHBORHOOD FROM THE ALDERMAN


Dear Neighbor,
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 (ward49@cityofchicago.org) or calling my office at 773-338-5796.
Sincerely,
Joe Moore

2 comments:

mcl said...

Before anything like this is finalized why not present it to the residents of the area at a community meeting for their input? It looks to me like this is a done deal, once again, the decision having been made by 'carpetbaggers' and others from outside the NOH neighborhood. As I understand, not even the local NOH Parks Advisory Council was counsulted and brought into this discussion.

tom who has lived here too long said...

If Starbucks or Borders or a Whole Foods wanted to move to Howard Street I am sure there would be a community meeting to gather input and make the proposer capitulate to the community and jump through a series of so many hoops they would move on to a neighborhood that actually wanted some jobs and places to shop.

But hijack a Chicago Park District Field house that had been promised to the community and it's a back room deal similar to out Mayor's preemptive strikes. How ironic that Joe was against the Children�s Museum in Grant Park. Maybe they should move that to the Gale Field house?

Seriously, why not have the Boy's and Girl's Clubs be a user of the facility like any other offering at the field house... Or better yet, why not have them invest their money and private funds in the community rather than using public funds to subsidize yet another non-profit in the neighborhood?

Don't get me wrong, I have said we needed a Boy's and Girl's Club in the neighborhood for the past 20 years. I taught middle school in Uptown in the early 70s and I know the kids used the center on Sheridan Road all the time. They are a great organization and lord knows we need all the help we can get given the lack of good urban planning north of Howard.

I would think Hartigan Park and Beach across the street from Dick Gregory would be an excellent location for the Boy's and Girl's Club... The kids would have a beach and a very nice, relatively gang and crime free environment. I'd contribute money to the building of that facility!

But I will be realistic. The powers that get decisions made North of Howard don't live there. Given that a new club wouldn't happen on that particular street of mansions, we should seriously question, in my opinion, this private public partnership. If it has my tax dollars supporting it, I would like to see the Park District controlling the management of the new center and allowing the Boy's and Girl's Club to have some of their programs run there for a fee; just like all the rest of the programs at the Park District.