Leaning Tower YMCA in Niles closing
by BRIAN NADIG
The Leaning Tower YMCA in Niles is closing its doors due to declining revenues which have gotten worse during the pandemic.
For many users of the Niles facility, the closest other YMCA is located at 4251 W. Irving Park Road. The Irving Park YMCA, which includes two pools and two basketball courts, is remaining open.
Meanwhile, the closing of the YMCA in Niles is not expected to affect the status of the famous tower next to the facility. About five years ago the Village of Niles purchased the land around the 86-year-old tower, which is a replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and had it restored.
The YMCA released the following statement on the decision to close the Leaning Tower location:
“The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago regrets to inform all Leaning Tower YMCA members and program participants that it has made the difficult decision to close the building at 6300 W. Touhy Ave. permanently starting June 1, 2020. This decision will not affect residents at the Leaning Tower Housing complex.
“The overwhelming stress that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has put on our global economy has also 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.
“Even before COVID-19, the Leaning Tower YMCA has been operating at a loss for many years, mainly due to the rising costs of maintaining an aging building, and declining membership and program enrollment. Still, we knew how much the community values its programs and services and we did everything possible to keep the center going — even at a loss.
“Unfortunately, due to the impact of COVID-19, we have abruptly reached the tipping point and no longer have the ability to cover the center’s losses. The organization has considered fundraising for the facility, but our study has concluded that forecasted funds would not be enough to cover future losses.
“YMCA understands that this decision of last resort may have an impact on you and your family. We are currently vigorously exploring alternative ways to serve local families through creative community partnerships and hope to have an exciting collaboration to announce this summer.”