Tag: David Parsons

Fred Hampton Pool Posted Profits Last Year, West Cook YMCA Officials Report as They Prep for Coming Summer

Maywood Children enjoy the water slide and water at the Fred Hampton Aquatic Center. The West Cook YMCA in Oak Park reopened and is managing the Maywood Pool and held an opening ceremony on Thursday, July 28th. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times MediaMonday, January 19, 2015 || By Michael Romain

Despite noticeably cooler weather, the Fred Hampton Aquatic Center posted a net profit last summer, according to a report (PDF: West Cook YMCA Pool Report) presented by West Cook Aquatic Director Kim Polk and Chief Operations Officer David Parsons at a Jan. 14 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting. The positive financial report complimented improved attendance numbers over 2013.

Last year, the pool posted a net profit of $4,374, as opposed to a $41,000 loss in 2013. Year-over-year attendance 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.

“This tremendous success is attributed to our partnership with the Village trustees, the investment made by the Village, West Cook staff and members as well as greater operational oversight to ensure we kept staff and operational expenses well within budget,” according to the report.

Last year, the West Cook YMCA and the Village of Maywood drafted an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) that entailed the village contributing half of the funds needed for the pool’s operation and splitting half of the profits.

The successful financial numbers were realized in spite of last season’s much cooler weather overall, “which resulted in 69 operating days, 41 of those days were below 80 degrees which in our estimation had an adverse effect on attendance,” the report read.

“The weather also meant the pool was closed for 18 days of the 69 or 26% of the time due to weather being below 73 degrees,” it stated.

Polk said that, when the weather was cool, leading to closures and/or low attendance, staff was consequently cut back.

At the Jan. 13 LLOC meeting, the West Cook officials requested that the village board direct staff to begin working on an IGA as soon as possible in order to ramp up preparations for the 2015 season.

But despite their request that a 2015 contract be drafted before the end of January, board members, in addition to Acting Village Manager David Myers, noted that this deadline would more than likely need to be extended.

West Cook officials listed the following priorities to be addressed before the pool opening:

Priority No. 1:

  • Critical and will save money in the long run complete before open in May Estimated Cost
  • Main pool pump needs rebuilding about $1300 vs purchasing a new pump which can costs $7,0001,300
  • Basement electrical room needs work new breaker panels ‐ all water damage, pretty sure that will be costly
  • Repair the crack/leak in the bottom of the pool
  • Roof issues Find and repair the leak in the pipes to the elephant in the Kiddie Pool so it works.
  • Water leaks behind the toilets

Priority No. 2:

  • These investments are low cost and will be appreciated by both visitors and staff
  • An  additional lifeguard chair in the shallow end
  • Replace or repair the turnstiles
  • Seal the pool office and put in an air conditioner
  • A shade structure or several umbrellas and tables

Priority No. 3:

  • Very important but very clostly and time consuming goal for 2016
  • Pool heater to take the chill off and can open earlier and during cool days
  • Lights in the pool

“A Great Day In Maywood:” Community Marks Official Start Of Fred Hampton Aquatic Center’s Summer Season With Ribbon-Cutting

Crowd at Pool Opening
A crowd of community leaders and elected officials gathered outside of the Fred Hampton Aquatic Center on Monday for the pool’s ribbon-cutting. (Photo by Michael Romain for The Village Free Press).

Monday,  June 9, 2014 || By Michael Romain 

MAYWOOD–Community leaders and local elected officials gathered in front of the Fred Hampton Family Aquatic Center on Fred Hampton Way to celebrate the official opening of the pool’s 2014 summer season.

Guests included Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins; Maywood Trustees Ron Rivers, Toni Dorris and Audrey Jaycox; State Representatives Emanuel “Chris” Welch and Kathleen Willis; Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley; District 209 Board Member Theresa Kelly; West Cook YMCA CEO Phillip Jimenez; West Cook YMCA COO David Parsons; West Cook Board members Roberto Sepulveda and Phil Gordon; West Cook YMCA Aquatics Director Kim Polk; Maywood Park District Commissioner and brother of Fred Hampton, Bill Hampton; Hampton’s mother Iberia Hampton; and Maywood Park District Interim Executive Director Lawrence Broughton.

“West Cook YMCA is thankful and delighted to be in partnership with the Village of Maywood, the Mayor and the Hampton family,” Jimenez said. He also thanked the West Cook YMCA staff, Acting Village Manager David Myers and Maywood’s Coordinator of Enforcement David Flowers for a job well done.

(From left to right: Mayor Edwenna Perkins; Mayor Perkin and Phillip; the Mayor and Rep. Welch (right) talk with a resident; Isiah Brandon, Executive Director of Youth on the Move, speaks with Rep. Willis. Photos by Michael Romain for The Village Free Press).

Mayor Perkins speakMayor Perkins and Philip JimenezMayor Perkins and State Rep. Welch chat with citizenIsiah Brandon speaks with Rep. Kathleen Willis

This marks the third year that the YMCA has maintained the pool, but it will be the first year that the Village shares the burden of the operating costs. Last month, the Village Board of Trustees voted unanimously to allocate $40,000 toward the approximately $80,000 it costs the West Cook YMCA to run the pool during the summer season, which officially kicked off after today’s ribbon-cutting and will end on August 17th.

“This is the proper place, the proper setting, the proper pool for people to do the proper things in this community,” said Bill Hampton. “Fred gave his life, not just for people to swim, but to build cooperation and unity. This was a great day in Maywood.”

“Since it opened in 1970, this pool has been a center of good, wholesome fun and hope for thousands of families,” Mayor Perkins said. “It has provided past and present residents of this Village with lifetimes of memories; and it has been a place where Maywoodians have bonded and formed lasting relationships.”

The Mayor lauded the Board of Trustees for voting to share the cost of operating the pool. She also thanked the administrative staff and board members of the YMCA for a fruitful collaboration. The Mayor noted that keeping the pool open year after year would require a constant struggle, but one she’s optimism about.

“In order for this pool to stay open another 40 plus years, it will take a struggle,” she said. “But the recent actions taken by the Village, in partnership with the West Cook YMCA, should give residents a lot of hope that this pool will be in good shape for years to come.”

(From left to right: Roberto Sepulveda; Iberia Hampton and local author Mary Morris; a crowd heads into the pool complex; Chief Talley converses with Trustee Jaycox; two boys plotting poolside; a YMCA lifeguard standing watch; a woman reading poolside; children wading the pool; Theresa Kelly, Mary Morris and Mrs. Hampton; Trustee Jaycox and Mrs. Hampton; Kim Polk, Mrs. Hampton and Bill Hampton cutting the ribbon; a poolside attendant waits for a patron to go down the slide. Photos by Michael Romain for The Village Free Press).

Roberto SepulvedaIberia Hampton and Mary MorrisPeople going into poolMaywood Police Chief Talley converses with Trustee JaycoxBoys poolsideYMCA LifeguardWoman reads poolsideChildren play in poolTheresa Kelly, Hampton,Trustee Jaycox and Iberia HamptonIberia Hampton, Bill Hampton and Kim PolkSlide Attendant

“It’s a joy and a hard-fought battle, but it’s something we have to do for our kids,” said Trustee Rivers, riffing on the Mayor’s martial metaphor. “It would’ve been a terrible mistake for this pool not to be open and for it not to be open on time. We did what we set out to do. Now, I just hope that it’s a safe and hot summer.”

West Cook YMCA board member Roberto Sepulveda, who is also a member of the Maywood Rotary Club, said that the partnership between the YMCA and the Village has never been stronger.

“We are glad to see a full partnership that includes greater engagement and financial support from Mayor Perkins, the Maywood Trustees and the Village of Maywood as a whole,” he said. “Today, you could really feel the sense of community.”

Iberia Hampton gathered with local leaders in front of a Univision television camera to cut the ribbon. The pool opening wouldn’t be official without her. VFP

Villegas Monuments



Some Residents Welcome YMCA With Chilly Caution Amid Confusion, Misinformation

By Michael Romain

At Wednesday’s Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting, David Parsons, the chief operating officer for the West Cook YMCA, hobbled to the podium on crutches. He was here to present an update on his organization’s progress in operating the Fred Hampton Aquatic Center since last speaking with the Board. Flanking him were Philip Gordon and Stacey Saunders, both YMCA board members with deep Maywood ties.

Ms. Saunders, a former Maywoodian who grew up here, expressed her appreciation for the collaboration between the YMCA and the Village of her upbringing. The partnership would further the international organization’s mission of building community spirit and pride.

David Parsons notified the board that, per its request for longer hours and more programming, the YMCA extended the pool’s hours of operations and had added programming such as morning lap swimming and lessons for toddlers, youth and adults. “In order to keep those hours all summer long,” Parsons said, “we do need everyone to come out to the pool.”

Trustee Ron Rivers, apparently unfazed by the group’s progress report, responded in a tone of disappointment.

“We spoke in April this year,” he said, “and it was vivid in my mind that we [the Board] asked you to look at the hours…I asked for swimming lessons and expanding your programming, period.” Mr. Rivers said that he and Trustee Audrey Jaycox (who wasn’t present due to bereavement) had concerns back in April that Parsons had failed to address before tonight’s LLOC meeting.

“I really feel kind of slighted that you guys didn’t see fit to get back to us to deal with some of our concerns and you’ve moved ahead and put your programs into a flyer and none of our concerns were ever addressed and we never even talked about it, but the pool is already opened,” Rivers said. “I’m perplexed why you didn’t get back to us.”

Mr. Parsons responded that he wasn’t aware that he had to report to each trustee individually and that, moreover, he believed the YMCA was working hard to meet the demands that the Board made in April, such as extending the pool’s hours, beefing up the programming and making the costs more affordable.

“We were asking for the courtesy of knowing what you were going to offer our residents ahead of time,” Rivers said. “As you stated, you’re here today, the pool’s already opened. [But] if we had any concerns can we ask you to retract that? No, the pool’s already opened…”

AD-DOES YOUR CHILD NEED MENTORING?Although Mr. Rivers’s indignation was apparent, what was less apparent was whether his indignation represented the sentiment of the board as a whole, let alone that of a significant population of Maywoodians. This ambiguity, however, was immediately cleared when Rivers expressed his frustration over a minor detail on one of the flyers the YMCA disseminated about the pool.

“What we ended up seeing,” Rivers said, “was the flyer and it upset a lot of people when it said at the bottom of the flyer that, ‘YMCA members would swim free.’ Why would you have our residents pay when members could swim free?” A loud wave of applause in agreement with Rivers washed over the half-full chamber.

But as anyone with even passing knowledge of health clubs understands, memberships aren’t free. Rivers’s assumption was clearly incorrect, which made his indignation seem contrived and acutely irresponsible. And by this point, one wondered whether or not Mr. Parsons’s crutches were due to his bending over backwards to appease Mr. Rivers’s seemingly persnickety demands.

Instead of clarifying an obvious misconception regarding what Mr. Parsons later said was a minor mistake made in haste, Mr. Rivers instead perpetuated the misinformation. And what’s more, he made it the premise of an inquisition-style public lashing of YMCA officials who seemed genuinely concerned with nothing more than satisfying the very demands that Mr. Rivers claimed went unaddressed.

Mr. Gordon, who lives in Maywood, apologized for what he said was a “slight discourtesy” before apologetically emphasizing the YMCA’s responsiveness to the Trustee’s concerns. “Immediately after you asked for extended hours and lessons…we did get to work on those concerns, but we didn’t communicate properly.”

Gordon also addressed what seemed from the applause to be a widely held assumption. “It’s a misconception when you say that YMCA members swim free, because they’re currently paying for the subsidies that the YMCA is paying out to start and maintain the pool for Maywood,” he said. “Many Maywoodians are YMCA members, I’m one of them, but many of them pay a monthly fee.” The chart below, taken from the West Cook YMCA’s website, details those membership fees.

West Cook County Membership Rates“Our wording,” Mr. Parsons mentioned, “should have said ‘including membership,’ instead of ‘free.’ We did it in haste. It was a mistake.” But he qualified his contrition. “I don’t understand how there was a misconception. There are about 91 families in Maywood who are currently members of the YMCA.”

According to Mr. Parsons, the West Cook YMCA is operating the Fred Hampton Aquatic Center at a deficit of about $15,000, which is why he and his staff have stressed the importance of attracting both Maywood residents and non-Maywood residents to the pool.

Although there are worries among some Maywoodianas about outside visitors potentially crowding out residential access to the pool, the fact remains that the volume of visitors is essential to the pool’s financial viability. The more outside visitors the pool can attract, the more likely it is to remain open for Maywood residents over the longer term.

When I later talked with Mr. Parsons about Mr. Rivers’s claims, he attributed most of the confusion to procedure. “There’s no problem, it’s just that I’m kind of a detail person, so after the first meeting, when they told us to come back and give us the information, I was waiting for them to give me a detailed date and someone to say, ‘You can come back on this date’” he said.

“It wasn’t a purposeful delay, it took some time to get the schedule and the wording right, so we wanted to make sure we were presenting it well. And we also had to think about how we could get people from outside of Maywood to come and utilize this pool…we apologized and right now, I’m working on an email to send to the Village because I want to consistently update them no what’s going on,” Parsons said.

Aside from the confusion at the LLOC meeting, it appears that the collaboration between Village management, staff and the YMCA has gone rather smoothly. West Cook YMCA President and CEO Jan Pate expressed that her organization’s working relationship with Village Manager William Barlow has been satisfactory. In addition, she said the organization has been in constant communication with Maywood Park District director Al McKinnor.

This doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t residents who aren’t concerned about the West Cook YMCA’s presence in Maywood. At the LLOC Meeting, Trustee Michael Rogers said, “Hopefully the lessons are learned, because there is a public perception problem. You need to make sure that you address the fact that you are partnering with us….The public perception is the reality….[you] have to make sure that West Cook means all of those communities and you have to make sure that Maywood is first in that partnership.”

Mr. Rogers’s observations are ironic considering both how hard the YMCA appears to have worked to gain the Village’s trust and the fact that the organization was first invited here by Maywood itself. “The Village approached David [Parsons] and said we have this pool that’s difficult to operate and would the ‘Y’ be interested in doing it,” said Ms. Pate.

On the other hand, however, the current public perception challenge that Trustee Rogers pointed out is one that the West Cook YMCA must have anticipated. “About 15 years ago, we intentionally changed our name from the Oak Park YMCA to the West Cook YMCA,” Ms. Pate said. “We haven’t always done a good job of servicing those areas, but that’s changed.”

Ms. Pate said that the organization has been careful to emphasize its supportive role in the partnership. “Anytime communities see something new and changing, people will have questions. We wanted to make sure people understand that we’re not coming in and taking over. [This is] Maywood’s pool.” (See more of my in-depth interview with Ms. Pate here).VFP