Open space. The ecosystem. Watershed. Function. Form.
These are all buzz words that hang out in the realm of space dedicated to act as a “park.”
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a “park” as:
a piece of public land in or near a city that is kept free of houses and other buildings and can be used for pleasure and exercise
a large area of public land kept in its natural state to protect plants and animals
Property values are affected by the state of a public space as much as the condition of a building next door and the Park District has done very little in the realm of development of its park space, especially the former location of Splish Splash pool.
Blame has been put on everyone but the Park District Board and its exiting Park District Director, by the legacy Board members and the exiting PD Director for failures of the past. Whether it was long-time board members becoming hostile with members of the public lodging complaints in connection to the topic all the way to the property still being shut off from public use, this type of political view was viewed to be unshakeable throughout the 2015 Election season as only two seats were up…and 3 is a quorom.
However, the recent resignation of Park District Commissioner Timothy “Tim” Powers (effective April 30, 2016) created the unexpected dynamic of the seat being available just a wee bit earlier than the 2017 election.
President Michael Kohlstedt is known to be a flood denier, stating that all issues with the Belly Button Hill area flooding is solely and squarely on the Village for not having stormwater sewers installed. However, the rate of annual flooding significantly rose AFTER the installation of a retention pond and a few other small features. What makes his flood denial even more ironic is that he has also sat through virtually every Village Board meeting in the role of Village Clerk
With the new Park District Director Dominic Egizio quick to spend some bucks with a contractor to install some gardens around signage in the parks, Egizio is entirely disinterested in the issue of flooding, especially as it relates to the Park District’s responsibility to help the Village become CRS certified. He was a little taken aback when asked after the meeting why he shouldn’t use volunteers to do the gardening and that all of the gardens should be intentional rain gardens designed pursuant to Rain Ready and Floodlothian standards.
While the Library jumped on board with the Rain Ready raft a while ago, the Park District continues to hold out and horde its resources, which harms the Village on a variety of levels, including that of property values and attractiveness in terms of economic development.
Scandalous as Mayor Sharon Rybak has been in her role as Mayor of Midlothian, the Park District has been flying under the radar with quite a few of their own rolling downhill. Ranging from multiple OMA violations and illegal meetings all the way to Kohlstedt and Chuck Nielson most likely being up for election in 2017 due to an error by Park District Finance Director Sharon Rybak (yes, the same person as the Mayor) when she filled out their paperwork.
According to Rybak, she has made mistakes on the forms in the past and they have been sent back to her for correction and yet she has yet to produce a copy of the ballot proof. Also, Park District Attorney Medard Narko lays claim to it being a Cook County typo, and yet there has been no documentation supporting this claim as well.
There continues to be rumblings about who did the screening of the candidates for Park District Director, with a question of how can 3 underlings sift through and pick out their favorites for the job when these underlings do not have a complete overview of the Park District and they do not have authority to sculpt the overall objectives of the Park District.
This soon-to-be-empty seat starting June 1st is a potential full break-away from the Park District politics of the past, but separation does not guarantee a successful spin-off. The two new Commissioners who won in 2015, Frank Pierson and Marihelen Brinker-Neu both were carried to office on a solid foundation born from Team Floodlothian efforts with the Village (Brinker-Neu is a founding member), and yet they have not been very vocal about calling for changes around Belly Button Hill.
Whereas past personnel virtually guaranteed defeat for any initiative launched by Pierson and Brinker-Neu, there could be a stalemate. It is legal for the seat to remain empty and this possibility gives these two Commissioners power and influence they didn’t have before. It is also just as possible a Commissioner is approved who acts as a wild card for the rest of the term, which means even more shakeups could be possible at the Park District…
Including an investigation into why the Park District still manages to violate the Open Meetings Act on such a regular basis.
Kohlstedt arguable could lose his title as President of the Park District IF a majority of the board was to actually hold him accountable for his failures to properly run the meetings, let alone allowing the meetings to go for with such fatal errors of omission, such as the time and location of the meetings.
In fact, even Narko’s 30+ year tenure is at risk, especially since he did not once call for the Board to not have a meeting due to the illegal nature of the announcements…but he was more than happy to articulate the replacement process for Powers seat.
This culture modification will take a person who actually has the best interest of the Park District at heart, especially since the Park District most likely is about to lose their sweetheart deal with the Village in connection to the Raday Lodge.
The Park District needs more than just another political move designed to keep the Wet Deficit Party in power and control of this particular municipal unit…but does Midlothian have the person within its boundaries to get the job done?
Three names have been bantered about. The most frequent mention is Irene DeLaCasa, who ran with Chuck Granata in the 2015 election (both lost), with Granata’s name irregularly thrown in. The third name is Evelyn Gleason…
Looks like the 2017 election season just started early.