Thursday, November 12, 2015

As Queen Bonnie Exits With Accolades.....

there are some facts that should be know. When I was head of the SouthSide Recreation Committee, she did not want to put up tennis courts at John Gwynn Park unless they could also be used as basketball courts. Joe Stowell, then Bradley Basketball coach told her that was illogical. So two separate tennis courts were built and I used those courts for my At Risk tennis programs that were highly successful. A hitting wall was installed on the wrong fence where every ball hit over the wall, landed in private property. I told her the wall needed to be moved so the balls landed on park property. To no avail. I eventually had to turn my program over to the park and it went downhill the first year and then kaput.

I waged a constant battle for tennis courts and maintenance. When the hard courts at Glen Oak and Bradley became badly cracked, contractors tried to scrape the top of the courts off and replacing the cracked tops with new tops. I told her that unless they went to the bottom where the cracks started, the top surface would crack again and very soon. They did and a total of 10 courts had to be redone. In redoing, one net post was set higher than it's mate so that the tennis net tilted downhill. As far as i know this situation prevails today.

Next step was that she wanted to close all but 2 of the seven clay courts, claiming the space for parking for the African Exhibit. A group of us banded together and saved the 7 clay courts. She tried to convince the board that Clay courts were more costly to maintain. Her staff took a study that proved the opposite. However, neglect of the clay courts of not enough water or too much water or not enough maintenance remains a problem yet today.This year, the clay courts were blessed with a lot of rain or their would usually be a cloud of dust. That we have 44 free public courts is an asset to tennis players as I have pointed out in previous blogs

When I unsuccessfully ran against Tim Cassidy for Park Board President, Bonnie warned all employees that if they wanted to hold their jobs they would not vote for me nor show any of my signs. In fact, a leading caterer to the park put up two of my signs on Pioneer Parkway. In two days they were down. I asked the owner why and he said he was told by........that if he wanted to do more business with the park he must take down my signs. I asked the owner where the signs were and he showed me but the signs had disappeared.

Bonnie brags of Golden Balls the parks won including the RiverPlex. Not mentioning that the RiverPlex came no where near to meeting their projections and it took them at least 16 years instead of 10 years as projected to pay off the bonds. Which may not even now be paid off.

In order to meet rising maintenance costs of the new 33,000 sq, ft. headquarters, the maintenance of the Knoxville facility, originally planned as the new park headquarter, the maintenance ot the Pavilion, rising pension costs lower than expected attendance at the expanded zoo, erosion control, less grant money, etc. expect that as most public bodies in Peoria, that fees and taxes must raised. In fact fees have been increasing slowly for a long time.

Why are tennis courts free? The park tried to charge but the employee cost offset the revenue. One of the reasons tennis is basically dead at Manual and Peoria High is that the park under Bonnie's direction, had and has little interest in tennis. The Tri-County TennisTournament that for years got free use of the courts now must pay for their use. 6 years ago it was $1800. I do not know what the PTA pays now.

Bonnie and others try to make Peoria into an Indianapolis or a Cincinnati. She would have been a roaring success in a city two to three times larger than Peoria, a city with low growth and a high poverty level..

If Bonnie was being paid $130,000 a year or more, I wonder what the new director will be paid??

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