WEB EXTRA!
Park District of Oak Park board Vice President Tom Philion announced Thursday that he would not be running for a second term as park commissioner. Philion made the announcement to fellow commissioners at the end of the board’s regular monthly meeting. Meanwhile fellow commissioner Mark Gartland said Friday that he will stand for another term on the board in next April’s election.

Park Board President David Kindler, who has his own decision to make soon regarding whether to run for another term on the board, praised Philion’s “clear vision for the park district,” said his presence would be missed.

“I guess you don’t know a guy’s value until you spend three years on a board with him,” said Kindler.

Philion, who served on several park board committees during his term, spent most of 2006 chairing the park district’s Recreation Center Historical Stewardship Committee. The park board formally accepted that committee’s final report Thursday night.

Gartland called Philion a “facilitator.”

“He has the knack of listening to all sides and summing it up well,” said Gartland.

Philion said Friday that his decision to not seek a second term was not easy.

“I went back and forth on this over the last couple of months,” he said. Praising both his park board colleagues and the district’s staff, he said there were numerous reasons for him to continue serving, including the ongoing comprehensive planning for each of the individual parks within the system.

However, personal and family considerations eventually won out.

“The challenge you have is to balance (the satisfaction of public service) with your own personal life, your spouse and your children,” he said. “It’s important for me to focus on things outside of the park district.”

Asked if he would be available for future service to the park district at some time on a more limited basis, Philion said, “Absolutely.”

Gartland said that his decision was based on wanting to be part of a comprehensive reassessment and revamping of the park district that he, Philion and Kindler helped initiate. The changes so far, he said, are “just the tip of the iceberg.”

“I feel like we’ve just started,” said Gartland. “We just finished one park (renovation) and it turned out well. We’ve got 17 or 18 more to go, and I’d like to be involved in it.”

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