Friday, January 22, 2016 || By Michael Romain
The Fred Hampton Aquatic Center, which has been operated by the West Cook YMCA since 2011, experienced its biggest year yet, according to West Cook President and CEO Phillip Jiménez.
Jiménez’s 2015 performance report, which he presented during a Jan. 13 board meeting, doubled as a request for the village to go into another intergovernmental agreement with the Oak Park-based nonprofit ahead of the 2016 season.
The village currently splits the center’s operating expenses with the YMCA. Last year, those expenses amounted to $53,000, or $26,500 spent by each entity. The center realized total revenues of $66,000, Jiménez said, for a total profit of $13,000.
That profit was split in half, but the YMCA allocated the surplus funds toward labor and material costs associated with maintaining and repairing the more than 40-year-old facility — costs that might would otherwise have gone to paying much more expensive unionized laborers, Jiménez said.
In 2013, the YMCA bore the full burden of the roughly $80,000 it cost to run the pool that year. The organization noted that it only recouped around half that amount, prompting it to request that the Village of Maywood contribute half the costs it took to operate and maintain the facility.
In 2014, the first year of the partnership, the pool netted a profit of more than $4,000, as opposed to a $41,000 loss in 2013. Year-over-year attendance that year improved by 43 percent, with 1,360 visitors checking into the pool in 2014 versus 950 visitors the previous year. The YMCA’s goal for 2014 was 950 visitors.
For 2015, Jiménez said, the YMCA’s goal for number of participants was upwards of 2,000. They reached 4,000, he said.
Jiménez also reported that the YMCA received a grant last year from USA Swimming administer swimming lessons at the center to children ages 6 to 12 years old.
“We really wanted to be known as a leader in water safety in Maywood,” he said.
Kim Polk, the YMCA’s aquatics director, said she’s looking to open up dialogue with school district 209 about recruiting students for life guard training.
“I’m really interested in collaborating with the high school to get not only swim lessons, but youth certified as life guards for employment at Fred Hampton Aquatic Center,” she said.
Jiménez noted that the intergovernmental agreement this year between the nonprofit and the village hasn’t changed much from the one last year, besides a minor date change.
He requested that the opening day party be changed from Memorial Day to June 13, instead.
“The Memorial Day session does not seem to work very well,” he said. “Mostly because kids are still in school. There’s not great attendance even though they get the day off. It’s also too cold for the pool to be open.”
Both YMCA officials praised the collaboration between the village and the nonprofit, with Jiménez noting the “night and day” difference that Maywood Village Manager Willie Norfleet’s impact has had on the collaboration.
“I can’t tell you how much the village manager has made a difference,” Jiménez said, while also lauding Assistant Village Manager David Myers.
Between 2013 and 2014, the facility underwent repairs on the roof, pumps and plumbing system. Both pools were patched and repainted. The decks, among other surfaces, were power-washed. The landscaping around the grounds was beautified.
Jiménez said the work of maintaining the center last year involved volunteers from around the village — from students to firefighters.
“I think this is really where a municipality and a nonprofit came together, worked together, solved problems together,” Jiménez. “When we were out of our assets the village came in, when the village needed support we came in. It was actually a lot of fun.”
For tentative information on pool hours and fees for the Aquatic Center’s 2016 season, click here. VFP