Park Stories: Ellis PAC
This week we sat down with Robert Nichols, President of Ellis Park Advisory Council (PAC), to discuss best practices and working with others to get projects done. Read on to learn more about Ellis PAC and their hopes for the future.
Robert Nichols got involved with Ellis Park Advisory Council about 6 years ago. He started because he was interested commemorating the “Queen of Gospel Music” Albertina Walker, who grew up in the Bronzeville neighborhood. Now 6 years later Robert is President of the Park Advisory Council and deeply dedicated to supporting his park.
Robert stresses the importance of collaborating with others in the community to achieve success as a Park Advisory Council. First, he says that it’s essential to welcome a core group of members that selflessly care about the advancement of the park.
Second, working with the park supervisor is extremely important. Robert says he is constantly helping Ellis Park Supervisor Monique Scott, because he knows he needs her input and assistance when working to get projects done. Robert invites Monique to every meeting and ensures she is in the loop with all PAC activities.
Robert also always invites local Aldermen and police to the PAC meetings. The PAC puts a spot for each community leader on the agenda so they are really a part of the meeting, not just observing. This way the community is on the same page and are all working towards the same goals.
Robert describes a recent situation when the Alderman was hesitant to approve an event in the park. However, since Robert and the PAC already had a good relationship with the Alderman, he was able to set up a meeting and convince the Alderman that the event would be a success – which it was. Without these relationships, it would be next to impossible for the PAC to hold events and organize programs.
Robert’s next project is to create a “Walk of Fame” on the sidewalk in front of the newly constructed Ellis Park Fieldhouse. He wants to commemorate all of the important and notable people who come from the Bronzeville neighborhood. These people may include the aforementioned Albertina Walker, Sam Cooke, Nat King Cole, or Tony Preckwinkel. The next step in this project is to form a committee of interested community members and to scope out the logistics of construction. Robert says, “I want to make sure there’s a community group to make decisions together”. It’s this team mentality that has been so successful for Ellis PAC.