The time to renew our parks is now

Opinion

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I urge all citizens of Oak Park to vote "Yes" on April 5 for the referendum to renew our parks. Past park district boards have not asked for a tax rate increase in more than 35 years. We are now in a crisis mode with years of infrastructure work to address. Imagine what your home would look like if you kept patching the roof for 35 years instead of replacing it when needed. Now multiply that by 26 park facilities and you understand why we need this referendum. We have involved many citizens in a very open process. Two citizen committees and the park district board conclude that we cannot put off this decision any longer.

My family and I have lived in Oak Park for many years and we are proud of the village. In my years on the park district board, I learned how much our park district staff does with very little. The park district raises 46 percent of their budget from fees and serves 30,000 people a year. We need to address the failing infrastructure in our park facilities. Safety issues and standards on our playgrounds must be upgraded. Accessibility mandates under the American's with Disabilities Act should become a priority.

What is the cost? That depends on the value of your home, but for a home valued at $400,000, it is about $200 a year, or $17 a month. It costs about that much for my wife and me to go to the movies once a month. It is a small investment for such a huge return. As a Community Police Officer, I regularly observe the positive impact that our parks, pools, playgrounds, skate park and other facilities make in the lives of our youth. Please join with me and my family in supporting the Park District Referendum on April 5.

Jacques Conway
Oak Park Park Commissioner

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