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South Chicago residents rally to save shuttered YMCA

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One of the longest operating YMCA branches in the city, the South Chicago facility officially closed today

3039 E. 91st Street.
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After 90 years, South Chicago’s YMCA on 91st Street will permanently close its doors today. The move to shutter the Far South Side location was announced last month, citing declining membership and $3 million in needed renovations. In a recent letter to members, YMCA leadership said the closure will not effect the adjoining 101-unit senior housing complex. The statement also encouraged South Chicago’s roughly 700 members to join the South Side Y located more than four miles north in Woodlawn.

A community group dubbed the “Concerned Citizens to Keep the South Chicago YMCA” issued a statement of its own today, claiming that inadequate notice was given ahead of the closure. It also claims that residents of the 91st Street senior apartments were informed that the building would be sold without any kind of prior community engagement.

The group staged a protest this morning in front of the Metro Chicago YMCA’s West Loop office at 1030 W. Van Buren. Brandishing the slogan “Trick or Treat, we want to meet,” the activists were hoping to speak with YMCA CEO Richard Malone regarding the closure. The organization also collected more than 1,200 signatures supporting a call to keep the South Chicago location open.

Despite grassroots efforts to revitalize the community, the South Chicago neighborhood has struggled in recent years with shifting demographics. Between 2000 and 2014 the neighborhood experienced a 26 percent population decrease, reported the Sun-Times.