Board of Commissioners [remote or in person]

Chicago Park District
Parks

Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022
11:15 a.m. — 1:30 p.m. CST

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5917 N Broadway Chicago, IL 60660 (Directions)

Broadway Armory Park, Field House

This is an assignment to document the following back-to-back meetings:

  • 11:15 a.m.: Public hearing on the proposed 2023 tax levy ordinance
  • 11:30 a.m.: Regular board meeting

The listed end time is an estimate based on past meeting durations.

You have the option to document these meetings in person (Broadway Armory Park Field House, 5917 N. Broadway Chicago, IL 60660) or remotely, via live stream. If you attend the meeting in person, an additional hour will be added to your pay for this assignment. Take a photo to let us know you were there.

If you plan to document remotely, check for a video livestream link at https://chicagoparkdistrict.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx around the start time, under the video column. If you do not see a video link you may be early or the meeting may be starting behind schedule. Wait a few moments and refresh your Internet browser tab.

You can also check the Chicago Park District’s Youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/chicagoparkdistrict/videos) and reach out to Documenters staff if you don’t see anything by 5 minutes after the scheduled start time - we will also accept coverage after the fact if the video is not available in real-time.

Check the source website for additional information

Reporting

Edited and summarized by the Chicago - IL Documenters Team

Note-taking by Collin Hazlett

An increased parks budget, tax levies and potential OMA violation

Live reporting by Will Reynolds

Will Reynolds @willinois
Hi! I'm live tweeting the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners meeting scheduled today at 11:15 for @CHIdocumenters #CHIDocumenters.

11:13 AM Dec 14, 2022 CST

Will Reynolds @willinois 2/36
@CHIdocumenters I'm watching remotely. Meeting video and agenda can be found here: chicagoparkdistrict.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx

You can find past meetings at the district youtube page.
@chicagoparkdistrict/streams' target='_blank'>youtube.com/@chicagoparkdi
Will Reynolds @willinois 3/36
The meeting starts with Steve Lux, Chief Financial Officer. This public hearing is required because they want to raise the tax levy. He briefly describes how much the increase would be and ends his comments.
Will Reynolds @willinois 4/36
There's one public comment in favor of the increase. The commissioners adjourn their informational hearing and then start the formal board meeting. Board President Myetie Hamilton is not present.
Will Reynolds @willinois 5/36
The manager of the aquatics division recognizes the work of Chicago Park District lifeguards. He describes several instances of lifeguards saving lives this year. Three lifeguards stand to applause.
Will Reynolds @willinois 6/36
Public comments start. Someone talks about a pattern of abuse and missing or stolen money in the district. As a retiree of the Chicago Park District, he has faced backlash for speaking out and not gotten answers. Only a small amount of the corruption happening is exposed.
Will Reynolds @willinois 7/36
It's interesting that a department retiree made a number of very specific accusations about widespread corruption, and nobody responds at all.
Will Reynolds @willinois 8/36
Another speaker talks about a tree-planting program and wants more support from the park district.
Will Reynolds @willinois 9/36
A speaker from Preservation Chicago talks about the illegal construction of a proposed museum on park land.
blockclubchicago.org/2022/11/11/hum…
Will Reynolds @willinois 10/36
She says it took the district three months to start investigating after they were informed of illegal construction. "These are not honest mistakes...hold them accountable..."
Will Reynolds @willinois 11/36
A speaker from Friends of the Parks is also opposed to construction of the museum on park land. It was done by people who knew they needed a permit. You can support the museum and still believe that "this is not an appropriate action."
Will Reynolds @willinois 12/36
Someone who lives near the park says the structure should be demolished. It ruins the landscape and views of a park designed by famed landscape architect Jens Jensen.
chicagodetours.com/landscape-arch…
Will Reynolds @willinois 13/36
Another resident near the park wants the structure torn down. "The archives building is devoid of any architectural value."
Will Reynolds @willinois 14/36
Another neighborhood resident wants it demolished. "We see the new structure as a symbol of public corruption every time we visit the park."
Says the same tenant who constructed the building also has plans for an entertainment venue on park land.
Will Reynolds @willinois 15/36
Rachel Birkhahn-Rommelfanger, from Friends of the Parks, gave recommendations and praise for the proposed budget.
Will Reynolds @willinois 16/36
The next public commenter asks the Chicago Park District to rename Columbus Park. "Columbus was not someone to be celebrated." It continues injustice to have it named after someone with Columbus' history of genocide and oppression.
Will Reynolds @willinois 17/36
A speaker from Promontory Point Conservancy wants promontory point designated as a city landmark.
promontorypoint.org
Will Reynolds @willinois 18/36
Someone who lives next to Welles Park is opposed to a plan to construct large LED lights for night games. Suggests games be played at more parks instead of building "unnecessary LED lights idea."

protectwellespark.com
Will Reynolds @willinois 19/36
Gene Schulter, a former alderman, also speaks in opposition to the proposed lights at Welles Park.
He represents senior citizens in the community opposed due to parking and light pollution. They felt excluded by virtual zoom meetings about the proposal.
Will Reynolds @willinois 20/36
One last public speaker is against construction of a proposed track.
Board members also received written public statements that weren't read at the meeting.
That was a passionate public comment session.
Will Reynolds @willinois 21/36
Staff describe a partnership program for water sampling and testing Park District beaches done with UIC students. It's approved without debate.
Will Reynolds @willinois 22/36
A proposed contract would make fieldhouses around the district complaint with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
A commissioner explains it's being done with the board of elections because many of the fieldhouses are voting locations.
Will Reynolds @willinois 23/36
Staff propose transfer of funds between different accounts. "As part of basic year-end clean up."
He uses some bureaucratic jargon that doesn't really explain why it's needed. Approved without debate.
Will Reynolds @willinois 24/36
Staff begin the proposed budget presentation by talking about Chicago Park District priorities.
Will Reynolds @willinois 25/36
The budget includes their four year pension ramp-up. https://t.co/KrPIGZoy7q
Will Reynolds @willinois 26/36
https://t.co/pIlIDXoYQ1
Will Reynolds @willinois 27/36
The budget does not include a property tax increase. https://t.co/4FOHJ8e3OJ
Will Reynolds @willinois 28/36
Full time staff equivalent is increased by seven. https://t.co/PjsFssUJX4
Will Reynolds @willinois 29/36
https://t.co/y6MDMoDUdu
Will Reynolds @willinois 30/36
The board approves the budget without debate.
Will Reynolds @willinois 31/36
A commissioner speaks about the difficulty of hiring staff this year. They're proposing changes to the hiring process and retention efforts.
Adding Juneteenth as an employee holiday. Employees in probationary period would earn sick time. Working on 8 week parental leave policy.
Will Reynolds @willinois 32/36
The success of their programs relies on a strong workforce. They need to compete for talent.

- On a personal note, I applied for a couple park district jobs I'm well qualified for and never got a response.
Will Reynolds @willinois 33/36
I'm having trouble with the live feed freezing. I don't know if it's just me or if everyone is experiencing it.
Will Reynolds @willinois 34/36
Without debate, the board approves a 45 day waiver to approve new benefits for district employees.

The board goes into closed session. I didn't hear them say for what purpose.
Will Reynolds @willinois 35/36
The meeting video ended during the break for executive session. I'll wait a while to see if it goes back online. @ChicagoParks
Will Reynolds @willinois 36/36
@ChicagoParks The video ended. There's no indication of them coming back from executive session that started nearly an hour ago. I don't know if the meeting is over or it's a technical issue. So, this concludes my live tweeting of the Chicago Park District board meeting for #CHIDocumenters

Agency Information

Chicago Park District

To govern the Chicago Park District, setting policies, governing operations, and charting the direction of current and future programs.

Remote meetings are live-streamed at https://chicagoparkdistrict.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx.

Documents

12/14/2022
12/14/2022
12/14/2022

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