July 23, 2008

Gale Park Budget Requests

Good Evening,

I am Eva McCann. I am here to represent the Gale Park Advisory Council and the Rogers Park Community on the issue of the Boys and Girls Club taking over the management of programs at the new Gale Park Community Center Facility. I will also present a list of programming items and Park Improvements that should be included in the budget for Gale Park and the Gale Park Community Center.

Community members and Rogers Park organizations over the years have worked with the Chicago Park District in good faith to help raise funds, design and bring to fruition the Gale Park Community Center. In good faith these same community members and organizations expect the Chicago Park District to uphold its commitment to the community to run programs as in other parks and their facilities throughout the city of Chicago, using Park District Staff that have already been hired to work at Gale Park Community Center.

The Gale Park Advisory Council has passed out surveys throughout the neighborhood asking people of all ages how they feel about the new Park building being run by the B&G Club and overwhelmingly they say it should be run by the Chicago Park District

If the Boys and Girls Club runs programs, Park District employees who have been hired to work at the Gale Park Community Center will be displaced.

If such an agreement goes through with Gale Park how many other agreements with other Park facilities will take place and how many more Park District Union Employees will find themselves without a park to call home.

The Gale Park Community Center is a public facility paid for by tax payers money. We insist that this Park Facility be run by the public agency for which our tax dollars have been designated. Our park taxes are not intended to be invested in a private organization to run the Gale Park Community Center.

The B&G Club is a private organization. The B&G Club is not accountable to the public nor can the public hold them accountable for running programs that meet the needs of the entire community, young and old alike.

An agreement such as this short changes the neighborhood for which it is meant to serve and allows the Park District to continue to be an absentee landlord to the three parks North of Howard. We need the Park District to be accountable to the taxpayers and to be present to take responsibility for what goes on in the Gale Park Community Center and its sister parks. We have worked too long and too hard to get to this point to have this facility dropped into the hands of an outside private organization. The B&G Club should not take over this public facility.

Improvements we are asking to be included in the Gale Park and Building Budget are:

1. A spray pool.

Kiwanis Park, the original park that the Park District tore down to build the Gale Park, had a small kiddy sprinkler area for the children to play in on hot summer days. The community asked the Park District to leave it or modernize the sprinkler area because parents do not allow their children to go to the lake by themselves to cool off in the summer. The Park District removed it down despite the community’s request.

We want to have the replacement of that kiddy sprinkler with a spray pool included in the budget for Gale Park improvements for 2009.

2. Other items we are requesting to be included in next years budget are:

Outdoor basketball hoops be installed
Park Kids Program
Neighbor Sports
Mighty Fit Kids
Cubs Care
Go Go Girls
Volleyball, youth and adults
Basketball, youth and adults
Wheel chair basketball
Cultural Arts Camp
Teen Club
Teen Leadership Club one for males, one for females
Family Night Out
Chess, youth and adults

3. Gallery 37, so that young people can provide art for our three parks, artistic benches, sculptures, mosaics, textiles etc.. Young people will learn artistic appreciation, help beautify the parks and earn some money while doing so.

4. Gymnastics

Not just tumbling but artistic and rhythmic gymnastics with a fully trained instructor. Parents in this neighborhood are not likely to take their children out of the area to participate in training activities. Parents have not done so, thus far, therefore the physical talents of these youth go unrecognized. There are also so many talented young people in this neighborhood who are unsupervised who pull dirty mattresses out of alleys to use for tumbling. Kids destroy trees trying to climb and swing and circle & flip over limbs. The children need to learn the real discipline of gymnastics. Real gymnastics that will discipline their minds and bodies while building strength and a sense of team work and personal best.

We request that you include in the Gale Park budget real gymnastics equipment like the balance beam, vaulting horses, uneven bars and parallel bars, high bars, rings and pommel horse.

5. We need Programming for special needs population in the budget
Special Olympics for the physically challenged
Arts & Crafts
Creative Expression

6. Other forms of fitness and conditioning that should be included in the budget are:

Low impact aerobics
Weight training

Young Parents Programs
Stroller Fitness
Toddlers Tunes & Turtles
Mommy & Me Ballet/Creative Movement & fitness

Youth & Young Adults

7. Have designated time for an Adult social club where people can gather to play bid whist, chess, scrabble or bingo.

8. Intergeneration programs and Family Nights Out

9. Young people need to learn about the environment through programs like:
Outdoor Explorers,
Team Adventure
Urban Campers.

10. The Park District needs to put into the budget various Arts Partnerships to provide:

African or Caribbean dance for both youth and adults
Some form of traditional Latin Dance to accommodate the Hispanic population
Hip Hop Dance
Steppers Dance
Theatre classes for all ages
Creative writing
Drumming Circles
Arts & Crafts
Cooking Classes

These programs are not asking too much for a community that has been deprived for decades of productive supervised activities. There are artists and instructors ready and willing to partner with the Park District to help bring many of these programs to the Community Center. The Community agrees to continue to work with the Park District to help provide the types of programming needed. We just need the Park District staff to be there and to work with and to partner with us to bring the highest quality possible to a desperate needy neighborhood.

The Boys & Girls Club can bring additional programming by moving into the Gale Annex 1/2 block north on Marshfield. They do not have to nor should they take over the Gale Park Community Center. We can have the best of both programming options by utilizing both facilities, one run by the Chicago Park District in the Gale Park Community Center, the other run by the B&G Club in the Gale Annex. Gale Academy wants the B&G Club in the Annex. Let them continue to work with the CPS system and let the Park District do its job where it will benefit people the most.

Thank you


Hugh said...


Karen Hoover said...

What a thoughtful, comprehensive and creative list of programming - a credit to the communit the developed it.