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Oak Park Parks Plans to Destroy the Sled Hills in Ridgeland Commons.
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Destruction of Sled hills, killing the Easter Bunny, and Artificial Turf all on the Agenda of the Oak Park Parks Board?
Could it get worse? Yes, if residents don't let their voices be heard the Board could take more action against the will of the people. The sledding hills are used by many families in the town. They are fun and not so high as to be frightening for younger kids. We have enough, or more than enough soccer fields through out the Village already--We don't need anymore.
Citizens Survey: 2% !
The Oak Park Park District website reports the results of the Leisure Vision/ETC Institute Fall 2010 Community Survey commissioned by the Park District of Oak Park. Released in February 2011, the goal was to establish priorities for services and programs. It showed that only 14% of Oak Park residents wanted "outdoor sports fields with synthetic turf," and that only 2% of Oak Park residents placed "outdoor sports fields with synthetic turf" among their top 4 priorities.
Democratic Citizen Input Lacking
When artificial turf was proposed for Lindberg Park, residents were notified by flyers and the resulting uproar led to cancellation of the plans. Because there are very few "neighbors" to Ridgeland Commons, few attended the meetings to cause another uproar. The organized sports interests were notified and were present in great disproportion to their numbers in the community.
Citizen Input Lacking: Timing
Options for Ridgeland Commons have been discussed for a decade; most of the resident meetings were held years ago. The proposed artificial turf and bulldozing of the sled/toboggan/exercise hill was only finalized in the last few weeks as shown by local press coverage -- Turf field recommended for Ridgeland Common - Wednesday Journal: www.oakpark.com/.../Turf-field-recommended-for-Ridgeland-Common/ : Jan 29, 2013 ... But the turf field option at Ridgeland Common is still up in the air as the park district waits on a grant and bid numbers for that renovation project ...
Citizen Input Lacking: Precedence
This lack of representative citizen involvement and the undue influence of a vocal minority sets a bad precedent. During the previous administration residents of the NEIGHBORHOODS shared their feelings in a meaningful way.
Many Users of the Hill: Fitness
Many people use the hill year-round, not just during organized sports season:
Sledding, bobsleds, and toboggans
Kids running down the slope with their kites to get added speed
Kids just running up, down, and around for exercise and joy
Aerobics, marathon, and triathlete training (running and up down the hill)
Many Users of the Hill: Passive Joy
Picnicking in the shade
Sunbathing away from the pool crowds
July 4 fireworks viewing position for more than 100 people every year
"Wrigley Field bleacher" viewing of the sports
Solitude for reading
Star gazing and meteor shower viewing (shielded to the south by the tracks)
with or without telescopes
Bulldozing of Hill Leaves Poor Alternative
Bulldozing the hill will leave poor alternatives for those engaged in these exercise activities. They will have to travel to Barrie Park. The doubling of the usage of that hill will lead to danger for children, especially young tots, and inevitable injury.
Dog Park & Mulch Pile Gone
With this plan, the Dog Park Plus will be gone. There are more dog owners in Oak Park than families with children. This is a slap in the face to those who negotiated seven or eight years ago as the organization FDOOP in good faith with the park district to have a large dog park. This was to replace their long-term home on weekends and holidays in spacious and safe Lindberg Park.The wood chip pile provided by the village that many people use as a source of yard mulch will be gone.
Artificial turf is made of toxic material and, unlike natural turf, contributes to the urban heat island and global warming by reaching high temperatures in sunlight.
See: DANGERS of Artificial_turf We believe the very concept of replacing natural grass and its living animals and ecology with plastic is an environmental disaster - and that feeling was shared by those against installing artificial turf at Lindberg Park.
ABC News Report of Dangers of Artificial Turf
Trees and Bushes
The destruction of all the trees and bushes in the park except one, including two on the hill, concerns us deeply. Can the bushes surrounding the ice rink/pool complex be relocated to the high school, other parks, the library grounds, the branch libraries, or made available to homeowners?
The additional cost is a concern. The Park District currently has a $20 million debt and liability (figure from tax bills). Installing artificial turf will cost $3.7 million. Every eight years replacing the artificial turf will cost more than $500,000, an annualized cost of more than $60,000. Hiring a maintenance man full time to care for the turf will occur, which will add $50,000 to the budget Although he will also care for the natural grass in the parks, we believe the proposed placing of the artificial turf is the major reason for this new position. If that was not the case, we wonder why wasn't he hired in years past and why can't all the current grounds people continue to do whatever maintenance on the natural turf is needed? The increase in total debt to $30 million will hurt the bond rating, meaning that future borrowing will cost the taxpayer more.
Park after Park Altered for Vocal Minority
Park after park in our town is being sacrificed for organized sports - Field Park, Taylor Park, and Ridgeland Commons because of a vocal and well-organized MINORITY.
We repeat: The Park District's own survey released in 2011 showed that only 14% of Oak Park residents wanted "outdoor sports fields with synthetic turf," and that only 2% of Oak Park residents placed "outdoor sports fields with synthetic turf" among their top 4 priorities.
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