Oak Brook residents seek larger Park Board, reduced terms
Updated: September 3, 2012 1:04PM
OAK BROOK — Residents are collecting signatures to try to place two referendum questions on the Nov. 6 ballot, seeking to change the structure of the Oak Brook Park District Board of Commissioners.
The residents, seeking more discussion and voices on the Park Board, hope to collect nearly 400 signatures to present to the park district next week. The goal is to have voters decide if the number of commissioners on the board should increase while also shortening their terms.
The board is made up of five commissioners who serve six-year terms. The referendum questions will ask if the number of commissioners should be increased to seven and their terms decreased to four years.
Resident Harry Peters, who served as a commissioner from 2001-2007, said he asked the board to consider similar changes years ago, but he did not have the votes.
“The whole point is to get it on the ballot and let the voters decide,” Peters said.
Resident Bill Lindeman believes the six-year terms dissuade people from running for the board. In the April 2011 election, Commissioners Tom Truedson and John O’Brien ran unopposed.
On Tuesday, Lindeman announced an informal session on the matter was scheduled between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4 at the Oak Brook Park District Recreation Center Board Meeting Room, 1450 Forest Gate Road. Residents can receive informational materials or sign petitions.
Lindeman also believes the current board “doesn’t seem to offer the residents the opportunity to have input.”
The park district passed a $3.3 million master plan in November by issuing non-referendum municipal bonds. Some residents preferred having the voters decide on the plan, but park district officials say residents had several opportunities to voice their opinions.
In a letter to the Doings in January, Executive Director Laure Kosey said the master plan was discussed in open meetings, an open house, a press release and in a brochure mailed to every Oak Brook Park District resident in August 2011 to seek resident responses.
Based on numbers she’s received from the Illinois Association of Park Districts, Kosey said 235 Illinois park districts are served by five board members, while 82 districts have seven-member boards.
But the residents leading the campaign still want voter input.
“The park district can accomplish (these changes) simply by passing a resolution, but they choose not too,” Lindeman said. “We want to get a little more diversity, a greater pool of ideas and different opinions as far as adding two additional members.”
Truedson, who has served on the board for 14 years, said the changes were discussed within the last year or two, but he prefers the status quo.
“The fact they want to expand, I think, is counterproductive,” Truedson said. “It’s hard enough to get people involved with a five-person board. The park district is very well run. The current board thinks it’s not worthy going forward.”
Truedson said he prefers the six-year terms, adding it allows him to “stay focused on providing for the park district,” rather than worry about a campaign.
Lindeman plans to deliver nearly 380 signatures to the park district next week, well over the number required, just in case any are challenged.