The River Forest Park Board on Monday delayed approving revisions of its field use policy in order to gather input from various affected user groups. The policy, approved by the board in October, has met with significant criticism from user groups, who claim it may be unfair, potentially expensive, and exclusionary.
Prior to deliberating on the revision, the board heard public comment from seven people, six of them critical of various points in the current policy, reprising concerns expressed at the November park board meeting. Commissioner Holly Hirst echoed those concerns, and added that the policy had been formulated with no input from either user groups or even some parks commissioners.
Monday night several commissioners urged that there be additional discussion about fees charged to users groups, and about questions regarding the minimum percentages of River Forest residents on teams using park district fields.
Board President Steve Dudek insisted several times that the intention of the field use policy was not to exclude any youth sports teams, as some feared. He termed the proposed revisions “a reasonable attempt to address concerns” expressed by residents in November.
Dudek also acknowledged that he was primarily responsible for crafting the policy. Hirst, who had asked for public input on the policy at the November board meeting, complained repeatedly that she had been given less than 48 hours to review the revised policy.
Addressing those concerns in part, Dudek assigned Executive Director Tom Grundin and Commissioner Dale Jones to arrange a meeting with selected user groups, but declined Hirst’s request to allow the proposed revisions to the field use policy to be posted on the web.
The park board also unanimously approved a declaration of the estimated funds needed for the 2006 tax levy. That estimate, which shows a 4 percent increase over last year’s levy, is $1.2 million. A special meeting was scheduled for 7 p.m. on Dec. 19 to vote on the final levy.