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City to Break Ground on Near South Side Community Center, Pool in 2014

By Erica Demarest | December 20, 2013 1:12pm
  Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the Oakland center would mimic Chinatown's Ping Tom Park Field House.
City to Break Ground on Near South Side Community Center, Pool in 2014
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DOUGLAS — Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced on Friday plans to break ground on a new Near South Side community center in 2014.

Emanuel offered few concrete details as he spoke about the tentatively titled Quad Community Arts Center, which he said is still in the planning stages.

The mayor did say residents in the Oakland area could expect something similar to the Ping Tom Park Field House in Chinatown, which will be used as a model for the new center.

Ping Tom Park, a 30,000-square-foot facility that debuted this fall, features a fitness center, basketball courts, swimming pool, community meeting spaces and a rooftop garden terrace.

"The biggest activity at the [Chicago] Park District, hands down, is swimming and swim lessons," Emanuel said Friday at a news conference at Doolittle Elementary School, 35 E. 35th St.

"But between Downtown and Hyde Park, there's no pool. ... The community on the South Side of the city of Chicago — in Bronzeville, Kenwood, Douglas — their kids are missing out while everybody else is participating."

Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd), who along with Ald. Will Burns (4th) campaigned for the community center, said it was "a long time coming."

"We have a lot of open-air parks in this community, but not many places where youth can go inside and swim and do other things," Dowell said.

According to Burns, construction will start in 2014. Exactly where the center will be built was not announced.

Emanuel said he's open to name suggestions from the community. Those who would like to name the center after a "local hero" or historical figure can reach out to their aldermen, he said.