Tuesday, March 20, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
During a regular meeting on Feb. 20, the Maywood Board of Trustees voted unanimously in favor of a resolution to authorize an agreement between the village and the West Cook YMCA to jointly operate the Fred Hampton Family Aquatic Center, 300 Oak St. in Maywood, during the summer.
As with last season, the village will pay $60,000 to the West Cook YMCA to operate and maintain the pool. Any money it costs beyond the village’s fee comes out of the YMCA’s budget.
The new pool season will run from June 12 through Sept. 4, according to the agreement. Kyle Sandine, the West Cook YMCA’s director of aquatic programs and quality assurance, will replace Kim Polk as aquatic director at Fred Hampton pool.
During last month’s meeting to discuss the new season, board members and West Cook YMCA President and CEO Phillip Jimenez were also focused on longer term ambitions.
“Our number one goal is to make this a destination location in Maywood,” Jimenez told board members, adding that the YMCA sees “a lot of opportunity to provide our youth with alternative options.”
Jimenez said that the YMCA would use the upcoming swim season to study what additional summer programs local young people and families want to see inside, or near, the pool.
After assessing local needs, which “will take a lot of listening and understanding,” they’d then “put together a proposal for summer programming in 2019,” he said.
Maywood Trustee Antonio Sanchez recommended that the village and YMCA possibly leverage some of the recreational space surrounding the aquatic facility, which include basketball courts and baseball diamonds, for additional programs.
Jimenez said that he would happily consider that avenue as long as the programming “is within our core field.”
The YMCA already offers swim instruction to community members, but Jimenez said that YMCA staff members have observed the need for additional programs that appeal to area youth, some of whom may “come to the pool unsupervised and will stay there all day.”
Those future ambitions notwithstanding, though, the West Cook YMCA has already transformed the pool since taking over its management and operation in 2011.
Jimenez said that since 2014, his first year as president and CEO, there’s been a nearly 600 percent increase in the number of “guest experiences” at the pool, from 1,360 to 9,192 last summer.
“We want to get 11,000 participants in 2018,” he said.
The number of season passes sold have also increased noticeably, from 25 sold in 2016 to 68 sold last summer.
“That’s about a $50 investment for a family of six for the entire summer,” Jimenez said. “It’s very affordable. This, to us, is a very big indicator that people are starting to feel very proud about the pool.”
And last spring, in partnership with Proviso Township High Schools District 209, the West Cook YMCA has provided lifeguard training certified by the American Red Cross to at least around three dozen D209 students, nearly half of whom went on to work as lifeguards. Three of those trainees are still working with the YMCA, Jimenez said.
Jimenez also requested that the village board consider allocating additional funds for season passes that would be distributed “to families who will most benefit from” them.
“I visit the pool now,” Sanchez said. “I visited often this past summer. If we can [also] associate the YMCA with [the fields around the pool as well] it would be just another outlet for our youth. It’s important that we continue to aid [the YMCA] to make this bigger and to make it a destination.” VFP
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