On Wednesday, February 16, 2022, the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners held its February meeting in which the Gately Park Track and Field Center was named in honor of activist, educator and local track advocate Dr. Conrad Worrill and Myetie Hamilton was approved as the new Park District Board President.
A staunch supporter of the revitalization of track and field for Chicago Public School students, Dr. Worrill pushed for the development of a facility dedicated to cultivating Chicago youth’s interest and talent in track and field which helped steer the construction of the state-of-the-art facility at Gately Park, now named the Dr. Conrad Worrill Track and Field Center. The move to name the facility comes after the conclusion of the required 45-day public comment period during which the proposed naming received overwhelming support from Alderman Michele Harris (8th Ward), state legislators and community members.
“This Track and Field Center is a crown jewel of the Chicago Park District and we are proud to honor Dr. Worrill at this marquee facility,” said Interim Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Rosa Escareño. “Thanks to Dr. Worrill’s advocacy, Chicagoans of all ages have access to top-notch resources and world-class opportunities for competition and programming.”
Dr. Conrad Worrill, a lifelong activist and educator, passed away on June 3, 2020. He was a high school track star and steadfast believer in the relationship between athletic opportunities and academic achievement. Dr. Worrill understood that providing opportunities for Chicago youth to excel in track and field also increases their eligibility for athletic scholarships, paving the way for some students who would otherwise struggle to afford college. With this facility, his legacy of untiring and passionate advocacy will continue to inspire generations to come.
Completed in 2021, the newly-named Dr. Conrad Worrill Track and Field Center at Gately Park is a nearly 140,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility that offers the only hydraulically banked indoor track in Illinois and allows Chicago to compete with similar major markets, such as New York City and Boston, to host championship events. Additionally, the Indoor Track and Field Center includes a 4,000-square foot warm-up area, eight sprint lanes, two long and triple jump runways and pits, two pole-vault runways, a high jump area, throws cage, and a seating capacity of 3,500. Other features of the facility are a state-of-the-art fitness center, multi-purpose rooms, a meet management control room, concessions, and locker rooms. The facility also includes four basketball courts and six volleyball courts within the track and field center.
The facility features a state-of-the-art fitness center, family restrooms, and locker rooms. The multipurpose rooms house a variety of activities from arts and crafts and painting to workshops and lectures.
Also at the meeting, the District’s Board approved the nomination of Myetie Hamilton as Chicago Park District Board President. Hamilton is the Vice President and Executive Director of City Year Chicago and was recently appointed to the Board as Commissioner in September 2021.
“Over the past four months, my team and I have worked closely with the Board to ensure a seamless continuation of services that Chicago families depend on while doing the vital work to create a safe and respectful work and recreation environment for our employees and patrons,” said Interim Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Rosa Escareño. “I look forward to working closely with Commissioner Myetie Hamilton in her new role as Chicago Park District Board President as we continue the vital work to further strengthen our parks as well as our communities and city.”
Ms. Hamilton has over 25 years of experience in public service, previously working as Executive Director of EPIC Academy and in various positions at Chicago Public Schools. At City Year Chicago, she leads the largest site of AmeriCorps Members across the national organization.
“As a South Side native, I know firsthand how our parks serve as a safe haven for our youth living in our most marginalized communities,” said Myetie Hamilton. “I am honored to serve as Chicago Park District’s Board President and look forward to working alongside our talented staff, dedicated board, community members, Mayor Lightfoot, and other civic leaders to forge a path that advances equity, empowerment, and collaboration throughout our neighborhoods.”
The Board also authorized an agreement between the District and Cardno USA, Inc, for ecological restoration projects and the maintenance of native habitats on parkland, including lagoons and other bodies of water. This agreement will facilitate projects like Nature Play Spaces that encourage children to connect with their natural environments and wetland restoration at Hegewisch Marsh. Cardno also has a strong history of exceeding minority and women owned participation goals and working with the District to recruit Chicago residents for this work. During the previous contract period, Cardno hired 33 graduates of the Greencorps Chicago program, a City of Chicago job training program for environmental jobs.
Additionally, a resolution honoring the late State Senator and US Congressman Harris Fawell was read into record at today’s Board Meeting. Fawell was recognized for sponsoring legislation for the formation of Special Recreation Associations (SRAs) and authorization for a specific tax levy that provides services for children and adults with disabilities. The Chicago Park District and patrons with special needs continue to rely on these funds for vital and equitable programming – in typical years, over 20,000 Chicagoans benefit from our special recreation programs, which are offered in over 50 fieldhouses around the city.
The Chicago Park District urges the public to weigh in on the proposed changes to the District’s code that were introduced in January’s board meeting that will create the new Office Prevention and Accountability. This Office, the first-of-its-kind at the Park District, will be empowered to prevent misconduct and hold wrongdoers accountable through fair, independent and thorough investigations into allegations of misconduct. The proposed Code Amendments are available for public comment on the Park District’s Website through March 12, 2022.