Sauganash Park now closes at 9 pm instead of 11 pm due to vandalism, rowdy teen behavior
by BRIAN NADIG
Sauganash Park, 5861 N. Kostner Ave., is now closing at 9 p.m. instead of 11 p.m. due to problems of rowdy teen behavior.
“They had been gaining access to the roof and drinking, (and) there’s damage to playground equipment,” said 17th (Albany Park) District commander Ronald Pontecore Jr. “We’ve subsequently increased our presence and patrols in that area.”
The new hours started Thursday, May 27, and will be in effect for the foreseeable future, said Erika Wozniak, chief of staff for Alderman Samantha Nugent (39th). Most of the problems at the park appeared to have been occurring during the late-night hours, she said.
The decision to change the hours was based on input from the Sauganash Park Advisory Council, the 17th District and the Chicago Park District, including the park supervisor, Wozniak said. The opening time for the park remains unchanged at 6 a.m.
Concerns have been raised about the condition of the field and the basketball court after the groups of teens leave, Pontecore said. “It’s a safety issue. There’s a lot of broken bottles,” he said.
On one occasion about 70 teenagers dispersed after the arrival of officers, Pontecore said. Notices are being sent out in the community in an effort to warn youngsters of a “zero tolerance” policy regarding inappropriate behavior at the park, he said.
There were no reported problems at the park over the Memorial Day weekend, according to police.
Issues of vandalism and teen drinking appear to be occurring “a little more than average” at parks throughout the city, Pontecore said. He added that “pent-up frustrations” due to teens being at home more than usual during the pandemic could be attributing to the problem.
Most area parks are open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.