In recent years, there have been measures offered up by the Illinois General Assembly to consolidate local governmental entities. Some in Springfield have suggested that local school or park districts should be consolidated into regional school or park districts. It is presumed by those individuals that this would somehow reduce overhead and save taxpayer dollars without sacrificing services. I have a different vision.
As with much of what comes out of Springfield, the idea that larger entities will somehow function more efficiently than smaller entities is really counter intuitive. What we really need for our local municipal entities to do is to work together; to partner together for the benefit of all taxpayers, for the common good.
This is why I have led the City’s efforts, in coordination with the efforts of Park District Commissioner Spaeth, to form an Intergovernmental Committee to address and coordinate on areas of common concern. After this Committee was formed, the School District was also added. Composed of nine members, the Park/City/School Committee meets every other month and has coordinated the various agencies in several areas; the most recent examples relating to issues of parking and public safety.
One product of our Intergovernmental Committee was the re-positioning of the Prairie Path where it crosses Spring Road. Working together, the Park District and the City not only coordinated the movement of this path southward (so it is now right next to the stop sign; a safer location), but was also able to carve out some Park land in order for the City to add some much needed parking along Prairie Path Lane.
Another example of the work of our Committee is the recent addition and reconfiguration of parking spaces at East End Park (a/k/a Joe Newton Field). There, the Park District agreed to give up some park space, in order for the City to improve the safety and number of parking spaces at East End Park. By working together, all of our stakeholders benefited. The youth programs gained needed parking for their events. And the residents around East End Park have also overwhelmingly endorsed the change. This is my vision of how local government can and should work in 2013 and beyond.