Some residents take legal action over possible Amundsen Park shelter for migrants in Chicago

As Chicago struggles to find space for asylum seekers, 2 new shelters opening in West Loop, alderman says

Wednesday, October 11, 2023
Chicagoans vow to camp out at park amid migrant shelter confusion
Several residents are taking legal action to block Amundsen Park from becoming a shelter for new arrivals.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Dozens of neighbors gathered at Amundsen Park in Galewood Tuesday night over confusion about whether the fieldhouse would be used as a migrant shelter.

A plan to use the fieldhouse as a shelter was put on hold Monday, but Tuesday night frustrated community members said park supervisors were told to turn their keys in, and youth athletes were asked to leave mid-practice.

The residents vowed to stay overnight to see if migrants were being moved in the fieldhouse. They said portable toilets were delivered to the field Wednesday morning, and that most programs inside the building have been suspended despite promises from the city.

"You are not going to come into our communities and tell us to move over for someone else, it's unacceptable," said Cata Truss, resident.

Several residents are also taking legal action to block the shelter, filing for an emergency temporary restraining order to stop any such use, claiming park land should be held for public use.

"Our voice will be heard one way or another," said resident Linda Johnson. "We are saying to you today we will not accept you snatching our park like you a gangster."

"We can't forget our communities," said attorney Deidre Baumann. "The children who depend on this park district, Amundsen Park everyday"

Donald Glover, president of the Amundsen Park Advisory Council, said this is the city just doing whatever it wants to do.

"We were told it was on-hold; the alderman had said this was all resolved, and it's not," Glover said.

Alderman Chris Taliaferro, who opposes the shelter plan, said Mayor Brandon Johnson told him there was a miscommunication.

"He told me that there was a misunderstanding, and that he did instruct his entire staff that this process would be put on hold," Ald. Taliaferro said.

SEE ALSO | Some Pilsen, Galewood residents frustrated over plans for migrant shelters in their neighborhoods

Taliaferro also said an industrial retail area north of the park is being inspected as a possible option to house migrants. The owner of that industrial area confirmed it is being considered for migrant housing.

In the meantime, the bigger issue remains with the ongoing influx of migrants and balancing resources as a sanctuary city.

For some, a legacy of disinvestment in some neighborhoods is clashing with the emerging needs of new arrivals.

The search for housing solutions is ongoing, and the demand for community input in that solution has grown louder.

Early Wednesday morning, it did not appear that any Galewood residents stayed overnight.

The fieldhouse was locked with no sign of any asylum seekers.

Earlier, residents in the Galewood community were credited for keeping programs at Amundsen Park, for now.

The city has delayed its planned Amundsen Park, Chicago fieldhouse closure as it looks for alternate site for migrants.

Also on Tuesday, the office of 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett Jr. said the city is planning to open two new migrant shelters at 30 N. Racine Ave. and 939 W. Lake St. in the West Loop.