No matter which of the Lindberg Park proposals you favor or oppose, now is the time to let your voice be heard. Whatever decisions are made regarding the master plan will no doubt affect the neighborhood and the village for decades.
So go online at www.oakparkparks.com and fill out the Lindberg questionnaire, send any additional thoughts to the park district staff and, most importantly, communicate your opinion to the park board members because their decision, scheduled for Dec. 16, will be final.
For my own part, I am against most of the grander schemes being considered — including lights, synthetic turf and extensive re-grading (which necessitates destruction of many mature trees). With the soccer community as strong advocates of the above, this can sometimes seem like a battle between tree-huggers and kid-huggers. But things are not so simple. Instead, the whole rationale for transforming Lindberg from an urban park to a quasi-professional athletic facility is based on a faulty premise: that soccer demand outstrips adequate supply. Yet, an eight-day study monitoring all local, designated soccer fields at the height of the season (and submitted to both the park district staff and board members) tells quite another story. While Lindberg’s fields were indeed busy, most of the others were rarely or barely used.
Furthermore, the only data substantiating this so-called problem comes from the soccer organizations themselves. And while I am not suggesting evil intent (I trust these are all good folks who want the best for their young charges), human nature is human nature. What is absolutely vital to one is an absolute luxury to another. Since the district leaves all soccer scheduling, administration and management to third parties, they do not know how many games or practices take place; how many teams participate; how many (if any) teams are currently not accommodated. They do not even verify how many participants are Oak Park residents versus all others.
Yet serious consideration is being given to transforming a vibrant, successful, multi-use park into a “non-green” facility for the benefit of one narrow activity — an activity, by the way, whose combined spring and fall schedule runs approximately 12 to16 weeks (depending on weather and other variables).
Until and unless the park district can prove otherwise, it seems the wear and tear on Lindberg’s fields, and the underutilization of other fields, is more sensibly solved using scheduling paper and pencil, rather than bulldozers and bloated budgets.