Is Park District shirking its duties?

 

To the Editor:

I recall when the running track was built, 1993. There was a football field built in the center of this track. There was regular turf grass and goal posts; it was marked out.  HP High made full use of both of these facilities. The track was rubberized, ‘state of the art’, funded by a gift from the NFL. The football field was very popular, and other schools also used it.

Now, a new track is under construction further south, and this track has an important difference – the football field is gone, replaced by an Astroturf-covered soccer field.

What happened to the football field?

I would like to point out that soccer, while a great sport, does not have anywhere near the participation of football at HP High.

Here, I think changes were made to accommodate a group, AYSO soccer, which offers soccer programming in the park for a fee. It runs around $200.00 every six months, so $400.00 per year. Chicago Park District – Come On Out and PAY.

I have a problem with public park land being handed over to these concessionaires for programming that really should be provided by the park district. The park district, seeking to save money, has privatized many of these leagues. They hand over the facilities (think volleyball nets on the beaches) to these organizations, and they charge you to use them.

I’m further troubled by the fact that the current president of the advisory council runs the AYSO program in Jackson Park. There is an apparent conflict of interest.

I hope Mayor Lightfoot can do some much-need housekeeping at the park district. This is a department that is poorly run, with most of its assets getting spent on the North and Northwest sides.

They are taking services they should be providing, in house, and privatizing, ‘outsourcing’ this programming to others.

When significant changes are made (football to soccer) the park district needs to give the public an opportunity to comment. There has been no such opportunity given to us.

I call upon the Chicago Park District to hold a public meeting on this issue.

Sincerely,

Ross Petersen