Amundsen Park

Plan to move migrants into Amundsen Park faces fresh legal battle

NBC Universal, Inc.

Residents in the Austin neighborhood are continuing to voice their opposition to a plan to move migrants into the fieldhouse at Amundsen Park, with a new legal strategy playing out.

Residents gathered Monday to express their disappointment that programs are being moved or canceled at the park, while the facility’s usage as a migrant shelter remains in the air.

“The Park District and the City of Chicago is not being very transparent to us,” Donald Glover, president of the Amundsen Park Advisory Council, said.

While the mayor’s office says the plan to use the fieldhouse as a shelter remains on hold, residents say that they are being adversely affected by the delays, with programs either moved, canceled entirely or forced to be held outdoors.

“Our seniors shouldn’t have to go miles away for the senior programs. Our kids shouldn’t have to go to another school for the programs. Our park is right here. And not just the park, our community is affected by this,” Glover said.

Cata Truss was one of dozens of residents demanding a resolution to the matter, and she had strong words for Mayor Brandon Johnson.

“You’ve been absent. You have not shown up for us,” she said. “You’re asking us as taxpayers to step aside and to allow this to happen. We say no.”

Truss said that she’s been disappointed that Johnson, an Austin resident himself, hasn’t engaged the community.

“He hasn’t even made his way over here to Austin and he lives here! He has not one time called any of us to sit down and have a conversation to ask us how we felt,” she said. “To ask us if we had any suggestions. To ask us are there any alternatives.”

A hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, as the group is planning to ask a judge to issue a temporary restraining order against the mayor’s office in an effort to reopen park facilities.

Gerald Harris says that a planned practice Tuesday for the football team he coaches will see hundreds of children and parents, and they’ll be forced to use limited outdoor portable toilets instead of the facility’s restrooms.

“We can’t use the bathrooms at all. They’re putting porta potties. We got 200 people at practice tomorrow. I have 155 kids and parents. We have over 200 people there. How are they going to use two porta potties? That is horrible. That is disgusting,” he said.

The mayor’s office did not respond to a request for comment from NBC Chicago on the pending legal action.

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