Thursday, August 28, 2008


History of the Gale Park Community Center: How it all began....setting the record straight!

Initially, the idea of a Community Center North of Howard did not begin with Alderman Moore. It began when the results of a survey done in Feb.-Mar. 1997 by the Howard Area Community Center’s Security Patrollers, were presented to the Neighborhood Safety Committee (NSC) on Mar. 18. The community decided that safety issues could not be resolved with short term solutions, but needed intervention and programming on a much larger scale. The concept of a youth center that could be used by current youth programs and others was born.

Initially, it was the community that invited Alderman Moore, developer Paul Gougen, and other selected persons in a letter of Apr. 7, 1997 to a meeting to discuss possibility for the community to partner with a developer as a way to build and operate such a Center.

Initially, the NSC brought up the idea of a youth center at every meeting by a developer, and researched other funding possibilities, including our legislators.

Initially, the NSC visited 5 other youth centers, three being the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, and Marillac House, to find out how they designed, paid for, and operated their centers, and how the community was involved in running the programs or serving on their boards. The NSC, with the assistance of Loyola CURL program surveyed the community on types of programming needed, and got space estimates on building size. It looked at the Rogers Park Movers 6 story building on Paulina as a site, and Loyola architects drew up plans as to how it would look if utilized for such a purpose.

On May 20, 1997, Alderman Moore talked about the need for a youth center in his state of the ward address and hinted that it could resemble a park field house. He formed a youth center subcommittee, and on Sept. 22, the NSC received a memorandum from him to come to a meeting at which Rudy Mulder, first developer of the Gateway Plaza pledged $500,000 toward the project. No further youth subcommittee meetings were held, yet on Dec. 10, 1997 the Alderman, without any acknowledgement of the NSC or its work, unveiled the Gale-Kiwanis Park Plan. There was no real discussion or way to negotiate divergent points of view and over the next months groups were forced to vote for the plan up or down.

From then on, it was the Alderman’s plan, his project. The rest is history that everyone knows, and how the community has had to fight for information and for meaningful involvement in the project they conceived and initiated.

Sr. Cecilia Fandel OSM
Former Organizer for NSC

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