UPTOWN — Ald. James Cappleman (46th) announced Thursday that security staff at Clarendon Park would return next month after the Chicago Park District in February cut security, a decision that some residents said emboldened area gang members.
In February, two off-duty police officers typically stationed at the park at 4501 N. Clarendon Ave. on weekday evenings were removed.
Uptown resident and president of the Clarendon Park Advisory Council, Katharine Boyda, said park staff reported gang members gathering in the park and field house, and that the smell of marijuana had wafted from the gymnasium.
Cappleman's office said in an email that they helped initiate the reinstatement of security after neighbors complained that the "Clarendon Park Community Center had no security staff available to address criminal activity in and around" the field house.
The Chicago Park District has not responded to multiple requests for comment about the security cuts.
But Cappleman's email said "the budgeted money saved will allow for more park security during the summer months when the need is more critical."
Officials also will work on a plan "to review current security measures at the park and create an action plan," to address issues, according to the email, which also said that police have increased patrols in the area.