The Chicago Park District on Wednesday announced details about a series of public meetings where top officials will discuss the agency’s new Office of Prevention and Accountability and the district’s efforts to create a better work environment.
The office was proposed last year after a sexual misconduct scandal involving female lifeguards at the city’s public beaches and pools, which led to the resignations of longtime Park District CEO Michael Kelly and parks board president Avis LaVelle.
Rosa Escareno – who was Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s pick to serve as interim parks chief – will lead the three “town hall” meetings later this month.
“Creating a safe and respectful work and recreation environment for our employees and patrons is vital to our success as an organization, and community input is vital to this process,” Escareno said in a statement.
She added, “The Office of Prevention and Accountability is an important part of our plan to rebuild trust, and I urge all interested residents to attend one of the Town Hall Meetings to make your voice heard and help us finalize this important new office.”
All three meetings are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. The first will be held Monday at Horner Park, at 2741 W. Montrose Ave.
The second meeting will be on March 24 at Fosco Park, 1312 S. Racine Ave.
And the third and final session, on March 29, will be a virtual meeting.
The office of the park district’s inspector general opened an investigation two years ago after former lifeguards leveled accusations in letters to Kelly and Lightfoot. But the investigation was kept out of public view for more than a year, until WBEZ broke the story last April.
In August, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx opened a criminal probe into allegations of sex crimes and public corruption in the park district’s handling of the matter.
Dan Mihalopoulos is an investigative reporter on WBEZ’s Government & Politics Team. Follow him on Twitter @dmihalopoulos.