West Humboldt Park pool should be reopened to the public to protect neighbors from heat and violence, residents say

WEST HUMBOLDT PARK — Residents are asking authorities to reopen a swimming pool at West Humboldt Park to the public so neighbors have a safe space to gather this summer.

The indoor pool is in a Park District lodge at 744 N. Pulaski Road — but the pool has been closed for years and the lodge is occupied by KIPP One Academy, a private charter school, said Corey Braddock, a West of long time. Resident of Humboldt Park. Braddock and other neighbors gathered near the country home on Wednesday to call on Park District and school officials to reopen the pool.

“It’s a Chicago Park District sports complex with a swimming pool and a gymnasium, and you can’t even get in there because it’s occupied by a private organization,” Braddock, 51, said during an interview. press conference with neighbors.

The appeal from residents comes as Chicago faces near-record heat, with the city expected to feel as hot as 105 degrees on Wednesday. The city is struggling to staff the pools it already operates due to a shortage of national lifeguards as city residents fear their public pools will be closed this summer.

RELATED: Without easy access to the lake, the West Siders hope the pools will stay open despite the shortage of lifeguards

But Braddock said the city needs to find a way to reopen the pool at West Humboldt Park because Chicago taxpayers are paying for the land since it’s part of the Park District.

“Anyone who owns real estate is paying taxes for that facility,” Braddock said. “However, this resource for this community cannot be used by the community.”

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

LaSean Braddock, brother of Corey Braddock, said opening the country home to the community would have a positive impact on the neighborhood by providing residents with the opportunity to stay safe and engaged.

“It would give kids and people, taxpayers, something to do and a place to go other than corners and hanging around and doing bad things,” he said. “They can have 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 belonged to the Park District.

“I have grandkids, and when they come, I have to put an inflatable pool in my yard, and they’re still not safe,” Hodges said. “But if they were inside [the pool owned by the Park District] …then they could go and be safe.

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

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

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

RELATED: Despite city’s shortage of lifeguards, young hopefuls are turned away by disorganized Park District staff, parents say

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