Just what exactly did the park district board do to prepare the many park users at Ridgeland Common for the abrupt detrimental changes that affect so many Oak Park residents? The answer is: nothing.
For example, the park district has easy access to the addresses and emails of those who use the dog park. Yet no efforts were made to reach out directly to this significant group prior to making drastic changes. Instead, the park district made the following disastrous decisions without securing adequate public comments from all "stakeholders":
- closing the dog park;
- removing the sled and exercise hill;
- killing the lovely trees and wildlife on the hill;
- replacing grass fields with plastic;
- revoking the dog park permits prior to expirations and
- destroying a place for daily social gatherings for the sled hill users, dog owners and their pets.
The dog park offers much-needed exercise for our pets and an irreplaceable daily "meeting place" after work and on weekends. It is financially self-sufficient, supported by dog park users. It is at the dog park, where many of us meet with old friends and greet new Oak Parkers who bring their dogs to the park for the first time. We enjoy the conversation, the lovely grass fields, the birds and the hill with its awesome trees. We love watching hundreds of joyful children and their parents sledding on the hill.
Are we to give all this up for the sake of more organized sports on plastic fields? What are the tax implications for the constant upkeep of the new fields and the recurring need for replacement of the plastic fields?
Could it be that many Oak Parkers were kept deliberately in the dark by a few special interest sports coaches sitting on the park board? Or could they still be stopped to prevent imposing their will on all Oak Parkers?
Oak Park resident for more than 25 years
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