By CBS 2 Chicago Staff

CHICAGO (CBS) — The High Ridge YMCA in West Rogers Park will be closing in January after nearly 70 years in operation, amid the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago announced this week that the High Ridge YMCA, 2424 W. Touhy Ave., will close effective Friday, Jan. 22, at 7 p.m.

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“The overwhelming economic stress caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) has put an enormous strain on our organization to the point where we are no longer able to sustain the center during and after the pandemic,” the YMCA said on its website.

The YMCA said even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the High Ridge Y had been operating at a loss for several years. Declining membership and program enrollment, limited space, increased competition in the area, and rising costs are to blame, the YMCA said.

“Knowing how much the community valued the High Ridge YMCA’s programs and services, we sought to keep the center going despite its losses,” the YMCA said. “Unfortunately, we have reached the point where we cannot identify a path to sustainability for the High Ridge YMCA, so we have made the difficult decision to close the center.”

This announcement comes several months after the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago closed three longstanding suburban locations. The Leaning Tower YMCA in Niles, the Lattof YMCA in Des Plaines, and the Kroehler Family YMCA in Naperville all closed permanently on June 1.

The High Ridge YMCA is located in the 50th Ward. Ald. Debra Silverstein released a statement on Facebook Tuesday lamenting the loss of an “essential service for many neighborhood residents.

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“I am in talks with YMCA and they have assured me that they are exploring ways to continue to serve the needs of our area in the future. I am also working with the City of Chicago to find a use for the property that will benefit our community,” Silverstein wrote in part. “In the meantime, I encourage you all to reach out to YMCA of Metro Chicago at 312-932-1200 and let them know how much the High Ridge YMCA means to you and your family.”

Ald. Maria Hadden of the neighboring 49th Ward also lamented the loss of the facility in a Facebook post Tuesday.

“The High Ridge YMCA will be closing in January. It is really hard to see an institution like this close, which has been a part of so many neighbors’ lives,’ Hadden wrote. “While it is not in our ward, the High Ridge YMCA has served the community for 70 years and has been a crucial community hub. They will be sorely missed.”

The YMCA advised that High Ridge members may consider using any of the other 13 YMCAs in the Chicago area, including the Lake View YMCA at 3333 N. Marshfield Ave. and the Irving Park YMCA at 4251 W. Irving Park Rd. Both of those facilities have swimming pools, large workout areas, basketball courts, and aquatics and fitness programs, the YMCA said.

The High Ridge YMCA has been in operation since 1952.

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