CHICAGO — After 52 years in business on the Far North Side of Chicago, the High Ridge YMCA is closing its doors.
“It was a total shock. There was no notification, it was right before Christmas,” member Mitchell Milner said.
The Metropolitan YMCA of Chicago made the announcement about a month ago, saying the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the site hard. The YMCA cited declining membership and program enrollment, while adding the location has been operating at a loss for several years.
“That was surprising, it always seemed very busy. My son goes down for open basketball, there’s all kinds of neighborhood kids that do that,” member Sally Burns said.
Some members believe they were left in the dark on the condition High Ridge YMCA was in financially.
“We never had any word membership was down or we should try to raise membership, so I feel like they’re using COVID as an excuse,” member Molly Burns said.
Michell Milner also said the YMCA never reached out to the community with any issues of decline in membership.
“The pandemic has been hard for everybody, but the Y claims there’s been a decline in memberships. They never came to the community and said anything,” Milner said.
Members have banded together to try to save the building, and have two investors interested in the property, hoping to utilize the building as an independent community center.
The need for the resources on Chicago’s Far North Side is exaggerated with
“They don’t believe in this community being able to revitalize this Y and make it into something great for the future and we will,” Milner said.