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Emma Royko of Naperville is still one of the guys. She's just not part of their team.
Since kindergarten, she has played soccer, basketball and baseball with a group of neighborhood boys she has grown up with.
But, at age of 8, the tow-headed tomboy's being told "no girls allowed." It's not the boys who are banning her, though, it's the adults.
Wheatland Athletic Association no longer will allow her to play alongside her male teammates in recreational basketball and baseball leagues. Also, Heritage Family YMCA wouldn't allow her to play basketball with the team this winter after allowing her to do so the previous season. And the Naperville Park District already has accepted her team into its "premiere" soccer league this fall, but indicated it can play only if Emma doesn't.
Why is this happening?
"Probably because I'm a girl, and they have girls' leagues," Emma said. "But most of my friends are on that (boys) team."
"They say, 'Eventually, she's going to have to play with the girls. She can't always play with the boys,'" said her mother, Cindy Royko.
Do you agree with these organizations' decisions? Is age 8 too early to start seperating boys from girls when it comes to sports teams? Why should it matter anyway - if Emma is at the same skill level as her male buddies, shouldn't she be allowed to play sports with and against them?

Calling it a good compromise and a reasonable solution, the City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve School District 203 and the Naperville Park District's request to convert a portion of the West Street garden plots into athletic fields.

The plan calls for the development of two multi-purpose athletic fields, parking, landscaping and trail areas in the southern portion of the West Street garden plots; development of support amenities such as water spigots and accessible plots in the new northern plots; relocation of approximately 216 garden plots from the southern portion to locations in the northern garden plots area and expansion to DuPage River Park and grading in the northern plots to improve drainage and increase usable areas for gardening.

This has been a contentious issue since it was proposed, with gardeners claiming they have spent years developing their plots and starting in a new location will set them back years. But athletic teams claim they need the space to allow all the children who want to, to participate in youth sports.

Now that the decision is final, what do you think? Is it a fair compromise? Did the gardeners receive a fair hearing?

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

Here is a link to the story:
http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/napervillesun/news/election/1490157,naperville-park-board-candidates-qanda_na032209.article

Update: On Thursday, the Park District offered a new proposal as a compromise option. The newest proposal would relocate 115 of the 216 plots at the southern portion of the West Street location to the northern part. The remaining 101 plots would be relocated to DuPage River Park or Southwest Community Park, where additional plots would also be created to accommodate interest in the program that has been expressed by potential gardeners who live in south Naperville. Two athletic fields would be built in the southern portion of the garden plots.

Is this really a solution everyone can live with, or do you still object to the revised proposal?

Below is the original blog entry:

Today's Sun features the latest on the ongoing saga regarding the garden plots in central Naperville, and how officials from the Park District and Naperville School District 203 are kicking around the idea of kicking out the gardeners and using the land for athletic fields instead.

The area now accommodates 590 garden plots, all of which were rented this past summer - 55 percent to residents who lived north of 75th Street, 37 percent to residents who lived south of 75th Street, and 8 percent to nonresidents.

After the creation of three "soccer-sized fields" there, the area would still provide 364 plots. And, with the creation of 322 new plots in either DuPage River Park or Southwest Community Park, the program would actually grow in size by nearly 100 plots.

Meanwhile, the plan, which is estimated to cost District 203 $500,000 and the Park District $250,000, also would meet the growing demand for athletic fields in the area. District 203 and the Naperville Park District cataloged those demands, which will be even more difficult to meet once the lease on Naperville Cemetery land now used for practice fields expires in 2009. They will present that lengthy list of uses, as well as options to continue accommodating them in the Knoch Park area, in a report that will be presented over the next few weeks during community engagement meetings to be held on this issue.

Let's hear from you. Do you agree that geographically, it makes sense to create additional garden plots at other locations? Or does that detract from the sense of community that gardeners experience working together? What do you think of this latest proposal?

Residents in the neighborhoods near Seager Park are concerned that a proposed development next to the park along Old Plank Road will destroy the feel of the neighborhood and the park by removing old-growth trees and replacing them with buildings.

On the other hand, Russ Whitaker, attorney for the developer, said, "What we are putting next to the park is no different than what exists next to the park right now. There are resident subdivisions on all sides of the park, and to add another residential subdivision is not going to change any character of the (area)."

Do you think the residents have a point, or is this just the price we have to pay for progress. Are you in favor of continued development in Naperville? Is there a compromise that both sides can work with?

There's nothing like a long bicycle ride on a beautiful summer weekend day. And the Naperville Park District wants to make sure that routes for that long ride or run easily lead from the city to other surrounding cities. Officials even are developing a master plan and want residents to offer input in the process. The Sun talked to some residents like Tim Ward who uses the trails frequently for biking and walking. "To get out of the town and into the woods - the peace and serenity of it all," he said.

How do you think the district should improve Naperville's trails? How safe are the intersections and roads that connect to the trails? What routes would you like created or made safer? What are the best trails now or your favorite route?

The Naperville Park District board meets tonight and has a short but significant agenda to tackle. Fresh from hiring Ray McGury to be executive director, the board will conduct a special meeting behind closed doors to consider an invitation to buy the Ponds of Hobson West property. Then the board is set to discuss the Ponds offer in -- gasp -- open session. Then maybe it will act on this latest offer to buy 6 acres for $2.5 million and we can all finally see the matter put to rest for good, or until there's another scheme to unload the land.

Then the park board is expected to hear from people who use the community garden plots on West Street, part of the 300-acre Martin-Mitchell bequest in the heart of Naperville that includes Central high school, Naper Settlement, Edward Hospital, Knoch Park, Naperville Cemetery and Sportsman's Park. Some powerbrokers feel strongly that those garden plots are an underutilization of prime property. They can't stand to see that land used so passively, and every day that the land sits unimproved without some sort of ballfield or recreation center on it just brings them more pain.

Some gardeners and their dirty hoes have caught wind of this, and like freshly spread manure they don't like what they smell in the air. So, in typical Naperville deliberative fashion, the board is expected to hear from gardeners about initiating a process to gather public input about the fate of the garden plots.

Let's cut to the chase. Forget all the other components of the Martin-Mitchell property. Let's just talk about the garden plots. Should they stay there on West Street? There are some who are drooling over that land, and want to set up the green thumbs elsewhere. What say you? Do you agree the property is underutilized? Is it right to relocate the garden plots for the benefit of more active recreational pursuits?

Things are really tough in the housing market. New home sales, especially. Why, some builders are actually offering buy one, get one free deals. For new homes! Builders are facing a glut of new construction in the residential market. Of course, this is a general trend, and you're likely to find pockets of healthy demand if you go looking.

Amid this backdrop, Crestview Builders is making a new pitch to sell its 6-acre Ponds of Hobson West property to the Naperville Park District for $2.5 million, no strings attached. You may recall, the Park District passed on the opportunity previously. Crestview hasn't dropped its price, but it has removed a number of conditions it had attached to the sale. Yep. The Park District can have the land, free and clear. For $2.5 million, or about $416,000 an acre.

Yikes. That's a lot for park space. Heck, Indian Prairie didn't want to pay anything close to that figure per acre to acquire land for a high school. To us, that still seems steep. We'd all love to see that land remain open. But in today's depressed real estate market, we think the park board was smart to pass on the prior offer, and it should be able to negotiate a steep reduction in price if it seriously wants to acquire the Ponds of Hobson West land.

Do you agree? What do you think would be a fair price to pay for the 6 acres? What's the most the Park District should pay, in your opinion?

Ray McGury -- Bolingbrook police chief and a 20-year veteran of the Naperville Police Department -- met with the Naperville Park District board Tuesday night behind closed doors to discuss the vacant executive director position.

He says he could remove the revolving door that has characterized the top administrative post in the Park District for much of the past decade.

On the heels of the Daniel Betts' ridiculously short tenure as parks chief, could McGury be the one to return stability to the Park District? Why did the park board pass over McGury a few months ago when it hired Betts? How do you think Ray McGury would do as Park District executive director?

UPDATE 8/28: The park board has hired Ray McGury to be executive director.

There are just too many good stories in the paper today, I couldn't decide on a topic for this thread. We have the wonderful, charming story about Naperville's world-famous paleontologist, Paul Sereno, thanking his fifth-grade teacher for influencing him. Daniel Betts has resigned as director of the Naperville Park District. Then there is the tragic story we have exclusively today about two troops, a Marine and a soldier, from Naperville who have been killed while fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So feel free to comment on those stories, or any other story in the paper, or take this opportunity to comment about any Naperville-related topic at all. Or, you can suggest a topic that you think the editors should start a thread about.

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