Consolidating the library, township and/or park district into the village is a bad idea, here’s why. Illinois is considered the “crown jewel” of parks nationwide. How do I know this? I served on the park board for 8 years and had the opportunity to go to four national conventions of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). Many park professionals told me they were trying to get a job in Illinois because they wanted to work in the best park districts in the country.
Illinois isn’t doing much right, but our parks are top notch. This is because Illinois, unlike most states, has independent park districts that are their own taxing body. The Park District of Oak Park has won three prestigious awards in the past few years — the Gold Award from the NRPA (which is very hard to get and took them years to earn), they have been accredited by CAPRA and they have been named a Distinguished Accredited Agency by the Illinois Association of Park Districts/Illinois Parks and Recreation Association.
Very few park districts nationally hold all three awards. We have a very high functioning park district and we are lucky to have such great recreational resources in our community.
There is no evidence that consolidating any of the three government bodies into the village will save any money. If the Oak Park governments want to study whether consolidation will actually save any tax dollars, together, then they should. But for now, if you like the library, township and park district the way they are, please keep them independent.