New fieldhouse may come to Skinner Park
June 3, 2017

Skinner Park, located at 1331 W. Adams St., is in the design phase for a new fieldhouse after community residents have spent years without having full access to one. In the 1970s, the Chicago Park District paid for and built a fieldhouse that is now the Whitney Young Magnet High School physical education building. Whitney Young students used it during the day, and the park district would open it to community use after school and on weekends. The fieldhouse holds a pool, three gyms, two clubrooms, and a weight room.

In 1995, the park district transferred the fieldhouse to Whitney Young, and community programs ceased there. Since 1995, Skinner Park users have had access only to a one-room fieldhouse built in the 1950s. In 2001, local residents formed the Skinner Park Advisory Council and worked with Alderman Walter Burnett Jr. of the 27th Ward to reopen the building to the community.

Although the park district obtained use of the pool for the community on a part-time basis as well as use of the small gym, officials have reduced the time open to the community due to Whitney Young’s increased privatization of the building, according to Skinner Park Advisory Council president May Toy.

“The community has really grown to the point that we need a fieldhouse that can serve all the community’s needs,” Toy said. She said the council has set a goal for a state-of-the-art facility serving the community’s variety of ages that is “sustainable, multipurpose, beautiful, and functional.” The council has been working not only with Alderman Burnett but Aldermen Jason C. Ervin of the 28th Ward and Danny Solis of the 25th Ward as both wards are near Skinner Park.

Alderman Burnett “has really been very supportive in getting the City of Chicago and the Park District to address the community’s needs,” Toy said. The council is seeking space to accommodate daytime programs, as it currently receives many requests for activities. As both age groups require daytime schedules, the Whitney Young fieldhouse is unavailable at their desired times. The council remains in the beginning stages of design and funding. According to Chicago Park District director of communications Jessica Maxey-Faulkner, no funding source “has been identified at this time,” but the council hopes to secure funding from the Chicago Park District.

The council wants to see fieldhouse construction begin in 2018. Alderman Burnett did not respond to requests for comment. For more about the Skinner Park Advisory Council, log on to www.skinnerpark.org. The park can be reached at (312) 746-5560.

— Gina Catalano