Village should respect park district independence

Opinion

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Dear Carl [Swenson],
I wanted to drop you a quick response to your comments that were printed in the Jan. 26 Wednesday Journal ("Swenson questions referendum timing"). It had a headline and your picture, so it was hard to miss.

I am assuming that you were quoted out of a larger context during a regular press briefing that included many other topics. As you know I am keenly interested in park business.

I have no doubt that you could manage a park district. When I am in a thankful mood, I am grateful that I don't have the village board's agenda, budget and snow removal burden. However, our governments were separated in 1921 and there is little we should do about it now. We have to play the hand we were dealt.

The cards in our 2005 hand include an infrastructure study and a comprehensive study. Your board has been a partner in the planning and execution of both studies since 2001. There is little to compare with the feeling of security one gets from having a partner. Your board helped us pay for the outside consultant, the village was there for us when we put together the citizen committees and I am grateful every year when the village transfers the tax dollars across Madison Street to us.

Four years of planning led us to the decision to ask the citizens for permission to stop the transfer from your side of the street and get it directly from them. In fact, the citizens on the Infrastructure Committee recommended it to the park board over 2 years ago. At this moment, we are in the midst of making our case to the citizens on this very subject. I have total confidence in our neighbors to make the right decision. I hope that we can Renew Our Parks by completing the combination of parks and recreation services that began in 1955. The trustees in 1990 believed it was best to let the park professionals manage the district and I agree. I'll be voting yes on the park district question on April 5th. I hope you will too.

Tim Kelly
President, Park District of Oak Park

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