A group of us play tennis every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Glen Oak Park when the weather permits. Almost invariably during the summer with the wind usually blowing from the Southwest over the tennis courts, some park employee is mowing grass (and dust) despite our constant pleas to find a different patch of park to mow between 9-11 A.M. these three days a week. Today, a park employee was blowing dust 100 or more feet into the air sending large clouds of dust over the courts where we were playing. Only after a phone call was made to park administration did the leaf blower move elsewhere.
This scenario has played and replayed itself dozens of times over the past decade. Less and less grass grows at Glen Oak so more patches of bare ground create virtual dust storms when park employees are mowing or blowing leaves. If you notice, Glen Oak Park overall is in terrible condition. I understand that even Park Board President Cassidy showed dismay when he went on a tour with a couple of concerned taxpayers.
Where beautiful flower gardens grew this morning at 9:00 A.M., by 10:30 A.M. the flowers were cut down and destroyed by orders of park administration. All over Peoria, many brighly colored flowers are still in full bloom. Not at Glen Oak Park; at two sites, they were chopped down and thrown in a tranport and hauled away.
The park has an almost $50 million dollar budget for 2007. All three board seats up for election were filled by two incumbents and one new member occupying the seat vacated by Stan Budinzki. Three people ran for three seats. The community appears to have lost interest in this poorly run, free spending poor imitation of a country club.
The inconsideration of some park employees and administration toward tennis and Glen Oak Park becomes more apparent each year.
The park just announced they are moving thier headquarters over to Knoxville at a cost of $2.7 million prompting at least one Board Member, Jim Cummings to say "when we are talking about several million dollars, I'd like to see it (the money) in advance." The PPD has borrowed $10 million to complete most of the first phase of the new zoo addition. The park still owes 14 more years of payments on the money they borrowed to build the RiverPlex. Income from the RP operations has never paid the yearly principal and interest payments on the original 20 year loan. Yearly losses on the fitness center approach $600,000.00; this loss shared by an unhappy, I'm told, St. Francis Hospital.
The move of park headquarters to Knoxville is temporary as plans are for park Administration to occupy the 33,000 sq. ft. Lakeview Museum after the new downtown museum is built.
I predicted a $60 million dollar park budget by 2010. Forget the softball complex promised by Cassidy and Noble to be completed by 2006 tournament time. They haven't even broken ground and don't have the money without selling more bonds and continuing to raise property taxes. The swapped land, Meinen Field for acreage out by Dunlap, is still in the name of Bradley University who, I'm told, collects agriculture subsidies paid by the lowly taxpayer.
Look at all the money losing enhancements going on around you and wake up, Peoria. All these park and school bonds, including the $35 million library bonds will all have to be repaid someday with (at the present, at least), cheaper dollars. If the housing boom stops (or slows dramatically) in Peoria and no new property tax paying businesses of any size move in, who is going to pay the future bills?