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What do you think of the park board candidates?

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The Sun recently posted its profiles of the candidates for park board. What do you think of them? This is your place to discuss.

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Our Park Board is dysfunctional and has tended to "drop the ball" on almost everything they touch!

Every issue becomes an emergency with them. They still have not re-looked their strategy to acknowledge the changing Naperville, which no longer consists of wide-open spaces with high-volume development resulting inlarge tracts of land being donated to the District.

The new & future Naperville is one made up of "in fill" lands. Such developments are/will be stealing PRIME real estate right out from under the Park District's nose because the Park District is STILL looking only for large parcels where they can put up soccer and other ball fields! A great example of this is the 3 acres on the west side of Seager Park. The PArk District stated clearly that they were not interested because they could not fit soccer & ball fields on it!

Our voting in this election should be simple: Vote out EVERY incumbant ----PERIOD!

Not many people know what is behind this issue. Certainly the majority of the School Board candidates at Monday evening's forum did not.

It started with the Martin-Mitchell Property Study that was initiated by School District 203, which wanted to build a new high school on the Knoch Park land. This study concluded that it would be okay to build ball fields on the Garden Plots area. It is very unlikely that the gardeners, nor the Park District, were the ones who put this commentary into the published Study.

For those who are unaware, the Garden Plots land is owned by the City of Naperville and leased to the Park Ddistrict, subject to changes of use needing approval of the City Council.

What had been proposed for a portion of the Garden Plots last year was soccer fields. Now, this was likely being done because School District 203 had planned on using the current soccer and practice fields located immediately west of Central High school for storage of construction equipment during the two-year renovation of the high school. Thus, there was a temporary need for additional space for the soccer program. Therefore, perhaps only a temporary solution was needed until the current soccer fields could be restored (and even upgraded).

School District 203 persuaded the Park District to consider giving up a portion of the Garden Plots area and Park District allowed School District 203 to host three public sessions to consider four options elaborated by School District 203. At the first sessions, the majority who attended were gardeners and others who were not in favor of Garden Plot land being used for soccer fields. The next two sessions had many more attendees. It appeared that the Naperville Central sports booster club was able to get people to attend to support providing Naperville Central with more athletic fields.

Anyone who now says that a permanent need for more fields on the Garden Plot area to accommodate sports use now on the Cemetery land that is being taken back by the Cemetery when the lease for that land expires in 2009 is misinformed. School District 203 emphasized in the last referendum that as part of the Central High school renovation, funds were going to be expended on an artificial surface in the football stadium to accommodate the lost of the sports activities on the Cemetery land. That is, the Cemetery land is not currently used for soccer. The land is used for football practice and physical education classes, both of which will be done in the newly surfaced football stadium in the future. At least that's what the public was told why there was a need for expending funds for an artificial surface in the stadium.

Latest word is that during the construction renovation period, the construction equipment will now be stored on the school's parking lot. If that is the case, then there is not even a temporary need for soccer fields on the Garden Plots land as the current soccer fields would be left intact.

School District 203 and its sports booster club have had the wrong focus. They should have been going after permanently having the use of the Cemetery land now being leased. School District 203 could buy land elsewhere in the Naperville area (larger than the current Cemetery land under lease) and trading it in kind to the Cemetery for the land next to the school.

Another possibility would be to continue a lease on the Cemetery property during the construction period and use this land for the storage of the construction equipment.

However, the Cemetery Board seems to be secretive. Just who they are and when they meet is not well known. The Mayor is one of the Cemetery Board members. These members should have pressure put on them by the community (especially those who want additional space for Naperville Central’s sports activities) to let School District 203 buy the Cemetery land now under lease. You know, we need to do this for the kids! Also, then this area could easily accommodate Lacrosse and Rugby teams should these sports become sanctioned sports in the next three-to-five years.

Also, since School District 203 dominates the usage of the northern portion of Knoch Park, they should purchase that land from the Park District. This land includes the baseball field used by the school's varsity baseball team, the tennis courts dominated by the school's tennis team, the field used by the school's girls softball team, the area used by the freshman football team, and the ball field used by the other school's baseball team.

Because School district 203 has not explained to the public why they were after the Garden Plots land (and not have to put many funds to get its use, this issue has become a very divisive one. It was totally unnecessary for this to happen.

Other alternatives were provided to the School District during the three public sessions. These alternatives were never discussed in public afterwards. For example, Option 2 submitted for discussion at these sessions called for Knock Park usage being changed so that Naperville Central High School's spots needs could be accommodated on the Knock Park land. This would mean displacing such current users of the Knock Park fields as the youth football teams. Since there has not been an adequate study of the current usage of other park land and fields, it is not known whether these other youth activities could be moved elsewhere (knowing that even these activities will need more field space for there growing programs). This study needs to be conducted.

The Park District does need to purchase more open space for both passive and sports activities. A group called the Naperville Save Open Space organization has been lobbying the Park District to hold a referendum to ask the taxpayers to provide (through bonds so that the future users also contribute to the purchase price of lands acquired) the monies needed to buy more open space. One example of land that could be purchased for a sports complex on the north side of Naperville is the Meijers property just west of Illinois Benedictine and south of Steeple Run elementary School. There are other properties available. The Park District could approach the Forest Preserve District to lease a portion of the land that the Forest Preserve is acquiring at County Lakes Golf Course for use as sports fields.

In summary, it appears that School District 203 wants to solve its sports activity space problem related to the renovation of Central High School on someone else’s dime. They want two soccer fields available to them for only $500,000. The full cost of converting the southern portion of the Garden Plots into two soccer fields has not been provided to the public. They cost would include the cost of turning the Garden plots into grassy fields, the cost of turning Garden Plot land into an additional 120 parking spaces, the possible cost of having a turning lane added to West Street next to the southern portion of the Garden Plots, the possible costs of putting red light at Osler and West Street, so that an entrance/exit can be provided across from Osler to allow access to the southern portion of the Garden plots, and the probable costs that will be incurred to build up the mushy land (one should have seen the standing water on the southern portion of the Garden Plots after the recent rain storm) that is the southern portion of the Garden plots).

The Park District only wants to spend up to $250,000 (at the Royce Road site to make garden plots there) and School District 203 to pay a maximum of $500,000. If the actual costs is more like $1,500,000 to $2,000,000 who is going to incur these expenses. I do not believe the City of Naperville is going to chip in any money.

The entire town should be embarassed by the Garden plot issues, the way it has been handled by the Park Board, and the disdainful and disrespectful attitude the entire Board and Board President has shown to the one side of the argument (the gardners).

There were many other good areas for the sports fields. However, the Board fixated on the only ones that create what I see as a breakdown in governmental separation: They recommended the solutions that result in basically free land for only one of our school districts (D203), and which allows the religious group (St Raphael's) to continue to use our land for their football program.

All in all, it has been a good lesson in civics, specifically how NOT to run a Park Board!

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This page contains a single entry by Naperville Sun editors published on March 25, 2009 12:16 PM.

Furstenau must undergo mental evaluation was the previous entry in this blog.

What do you think of the D203 school board candidates is the next entry in this blog.

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