Over 60 percent of Oak Park voters supported the Park District of Oak Park's request for a 25-cent property tax hike on Tuesday, a decision that will give the parks roughly $2.9 million more in tax dollars annually.
As of 9:15 p.m. Tuesday, the vote tallied in at 4,747 to 2,977 in favor of the referendum. The additional money is to be used for capital improvements to parks and recreation facilities, as well as general operations of the long cash-strapped district.
Park District Commissioner Mark Gartland said Tuesday he was excited about the win, and felt the referendum drew solid support from sports organizations that use local parks, including youth baseball and soccer, as well as Friends of the Oak Park Conservatory.
"This has been a wonderful [campaign] committee and a real community outreach effort," Gartland said.
Commissioner David Kindler said he wasn't surprised by the outcome, but was "very grateful."
"We were confident that folks in Oak Park saw solid evidence of need and that they would come out and do the right thing," he said.
Both commissioners also said they look forward to working with the newly elected village board. Relations between the park and village boards have been tense over the last several years, and the district has been hoping to resolve several outstanding issues between the two bodies.
"All the people who won have been very supportive of the referendum and we look forward to working with them," Gartland said.
The park board is slated to begin discussing future plans now that the tax hike has been approved at a board meeting Thursday. Kindler said he would expect that drafting master plans for specific parks may begin as early as the summer.