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Park District Procrastinates West Side Gym Repairs

By Sean Stillmaker in News on May 22, 2011 7:00PM

Last week, we wrote about the Chicago Park District's top honchos lavishing in fancy hotels and dining on expensive meals while lobbying on business trips across the country. Perhaps their priorities have gone awry because instead they could be working on fixing a much needed west side gymnasium that flooded last summer.

Youths on the West Side rely on the Garfield Park Fieldhouse and Gymnasium as a safe haven. When the temperatures start rising, so does crime in Chicago. But a flood last year from the Garfield Park lagoon and the park's swimming pool poured into the gym destroying the floor.

This is actually the fifth time the gym has flooded since the 1980s, and plans for repairs haven't even started this time. The park district is kicking around the idea of a rubberized floor, but even if it goes through it won't be ready until fall, the Better Government Association reports.

Garfield Park is in the Harrison Police District, which currently ranks second highest in murders this year and third highest for violent crime, according to the latest index crime report. The Garfield Park Conservatory was also the meeting place last year between head gang members and Former Superintendent of Police Jody Weis.

Perhaps instead of using taxpayer money to pay $1,000 for rent-a-cars and valet, the money would be better used keeping West Side youths safe.