WEST RIDGE — The High Ridge YMCA in West Ridge will close at the end of January, with officials citing financial problems that were exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement came from Cherese Ledet, senior vice president of operations for the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago. It was emailed to YMCA members and posted on the group’s website. Ledet wrote the local YMCA had been operating at a loss for years, and the pandemic was the last straw for the almost 70-year-old location.
“Even before the current health care crisis, the High Ridge YMCA had been operating at a loss for a number of years, mainly due to declining membership and program enrollment, limited space that has restricted program offerings, increased competition in the area, and rising costs,” Ledet wrote in the announcement.
“Knowing how much the community valued the High Ridge YMCA’s programs and services, we sought to keep the center going despite its losses. Unfortunately, we have reached the point where we cannot identify a path to sustainability for the High Ridge YMCA, so we have made the difficult decision to close the center.”
Neighbor Stephanie Kuenn, whose 10-year-old daughter Hannah has attended summer camps at the High Ridge location, said the closure is a huge loss.
“We’ve been members for about five years. They have a lot of good programming for kids,” Kuenn said.
Ledet wrote the closing may impact families and urged members to consider going to the Lake View YMCA at 3333 N. Marshfield Ave. and the Irving Park YMCA at 4251 N. Irving Park Road.
However, Kuenn said that will be hard on some, especially people with lower incomes.
“That’s quite a way and if you don’t have a car. It’s not realistic,” she said.
“One of the things we really liked about it is that it was a very diverse place, and that’s one of the things I find really troubling about [the closure]. It’s going to disproportionately affect a neighborhood that relies on it for child care [and whose community is] made up of immigrants, people who are Black and people who are Brown,” Kuenn said.