HICKS,SARAH. “Don’t saddle future River Foresters with debt.”
Wednesday Journal. Web. 26 Jan. 2010.
The River Forest Park District referendum is now less than one week away. No matter how many meetings and frequently asked questions are on the park district Web site, many pivotal concerns still remain about the referendum and the proposed recreation center.
1. Total cost of the project: “An approved February 2010 referendum will allow the park district to issue a new $8 million bond, at a payment schedule of $540,000 annually over a 25-year term” (from www.rfparks.com). It seems the park district is telling us we could pay as much as $540,000 X 25 = $13.5 million, with interest, after 25 years of bond payments.
2. Duplication of available facilities and services: The proposed recreation center plan has a gym, a suspended track, a fitness room, four program rooms and a dance room. The River Forest Community Center two blocks away has a gym, a fitness room, four multipurpose rooms and a dance room. Why can’t the park district and community center work together on a plan for cooperative programs and shared use of space?
3. Incomplete plan: Several concerns were raised at the River Forest Service Club forum Jan. 21 that the projected revenue was too optimistic and the costs were not all-inclusive. Also, the necessary studies to assess the impact of the center on the surrounding community have not been done and will not be done until after the referendum.
4. Parking: The current proposed recreation center plan has only 35 parking spaces. The architect indicated at the Jan. 11 board meeting that he did not design bleachers for the gym because there is not adequate parking. Why build a gym if spectators can’t be accommodated? The reality is that the Oilily property appears to be too small for what the park district wants to build.
Would you commit to taking out an expensive mortgage on a new home where you might not be able to park your car, have large gatherings or pay the monthly bills? What if a very similar home exists nearby that you can rent for a fraction of the cost of the mortgage payment of the new house? I think many of us in this situation would decide to make better use of the space in our existing home, or look into renting the home nearby.
Don’t commit several generations of future River Foresters to a large debt for a less-than-ideal project. Tell the park district “no” on Feb. 2.
Sarah Hicks, an eight-year River Forest resident, is a physician and mother of two who is a neighbor to the proposed River Forest Park District recreational facility.