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Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale

West Humboldt Park Pool Should Be Reopened To Public To Protect Neighbors From Heat, Violence, Residents Say

"It would give the kids and the people, the taxpayers, something to do and somewhere to go other than the corners and hanging out and doing bad stuff," one neighbor said.

West Humboldt Park resident and activist Corey Braddock and neighbors called for a local pool to be opened to the public during a Wednesday news conference.
Leen Yassine/Block Club Chicago
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WEST HUMBOLDT PARK — Residents are calling on officials to reopen a West Humboldt Park pool to the public so neighbors have a safe space to gather this summer.

The indoor pool is in a Park District field house at 744 N. Pulaski Road — but the pool has been closed for years, and the field house is occupied by KIPP One Academy, a privately owned charter school, said Corey Braddock, a longtime West Humboldt Park resident. Braddock and other neighbors gathered Wednesday near the field house to ask the Park District and school officials to reopen the pool.

“This is a Chicago Park District field house with a swimming pool and gymnasium in it, and you can’t even get in it because it’s occupied by a private organization,” Braddock, 51, said during a news conference with neighbors.

The residents’ call is coming as Chicago faces near-record heat, with the city expected to feel as warm as 105 degrees Wednesday. The city is struggling to staff the pools it already operates due to a national lifeguard shortage, with residents around the city concerned their public pools will be closed this summer.

RELATED: Without Easy Access To The Lake, West Siders Hope Pools Will Remain Open Despite Lifeguard Shortage

But Braddock said the city needs to find a way to reopen the West Humboldt Park pool because Chicago taxpayers pay for the field house since it’s part of the Park District.

“Anybody that owns a piece of real estate pays taxes for this facility,” Braddock said. “However, this resource for this community is not able to be used by the community.”

Park District representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Representatives of KIPP One Academy declined to comment.

LaSean Braddock, Corey Braddock’s brother, said opening the field house to the community would have a positive impact on the neighborhood by providing opportunities to stay safe and engaged to locals.

“It would give the kids and the people, the taxpayers, something to do and somewhere to go other than the corners and hanging out and doing bad stuff,” he said. “They can have some fun, cool off and play ball.”

Glenda Hodges, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 40 years, said she didn’t know the pool was owned by the Park District.

“I do have grandchildren, and when they come over I have to put a blow-up pool in my yard, and then they’re still not safe,” Hodges said. “But if they were inside [the pool owned by the Park District] … then they could go there and be safe.

Hodges, who is in hers 60s and said she was a lifeguard in high school, suggested the Park District teach youth and residents to be lifeguards.

The Park District has opened its beaches, but it’s released few details about its plans for public pools. Officials have said they don’t have the lifeguard staff needed to reopen all the pools — but the city is offering a $500 incentive to people who become lifeguards to make up for the shortage.

The nearest outdoor pools for West Humboldt Park residents are at Humboldt Park, Garfield Park and Clark Park.

RELATED: Despite City Lifeguard Shortage, Young Hopefuls Turned Away By Disorganized Park District Staffers, Parents Say

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