Three vie for two seats on Arlington Heights park board.
Three candidates are seeking two seats on the Arlington Heights Park District board of commissioners.
The candidates on the April 2 ballot are: Rob Nesvacil, an incumbent who was first elected in 2003; Charles McLaughlin, a park district referee and one-time soccer advisory committee member; and Brian Owen, a member of the Arlington Lakes golf advisory committee.
The Daily Herald asked candidates to respond to a questionnaire about local issues. Some of their responses are below. For complete election coverage, visit dailyherald.com.
Q. Is there any additional open space the park district needs to acquire? Please describe.
McLaughlin: Candidate did not respond.
Nesvacil: I am a strong supporter of open space and nature in general. I'm happy to say that, during my tenure on the park board, the district has increased its open space through smart, fiscally responsible land purchases. Arlington Heights is a "landlocked" community, so any new open space must come from within existing borders. This means it is likely property that is already owned by another group.
The key to increasing open space is to be on the lookout for cost-effective land when it comes available for sale, or even land that may be donated. The park district has a preference for purchasing property adjacent to existing property when it makes fiscal sense, as well as an agreement with the village to review potential large tracts of land should they become available.
Owen: I feel that the park district should continue to look at spaces near or adjacent to parks and properties it currently owns. As we develop a future plan for these properties, we need to generate a cash flow. For example, we could rent the properties to offset the cost of purchasing until developing has been done. Having a long term strategic plan would be a benefit to the park district and the community.
Q. Are there any unmet recreational needs? If yes, what are they and how would you propose paying for them?
McLaughlin: Candidate did not respond.
Nesvacil: As a whole, the park board has a policy that classes which do not meet minimum enrollments are canceled. This protects taxpayers by ensuring classes garner enough fees to cover their basic costs and I'm in favor of continuing this practice.
Recently, new activities like cardboard fort-building and growing sports like pickleball, lacrosse, rugby and more are evidence of the ongoing need for the park district to be flexible and adapt to residents' new recreational needs.
To do so, I'm a strong proponent for sharing resources, and I'm pleased to note the park district has almost 50 intergovernmental agreements, including every school district, the village, nearby park districts, and more -- saving taxpayers money by avoiding inefficiencies.
Should I be re-elected, another area I plan to continue advocating for is further reducing the district's carbon and chemical footprint to help residents enjoy their passive recreational needs such as picnics, strolls or simply watching butterflies sail through the air.
During my tenure, the park district has increased the amount of land it devotes to natural areas such as the milkweed patches around Lake Arlington and the butterfly garden at Heritage Park (supported by youth volunteers). I'd like to see this continue, along with plans for sustainable energy such as wind and solar power, rainwater collection, and other environmentally-friendly solutions.
This may be paid for in whole or in part by working with businesses or charities that provide grants or with the park foundation which raises money to support park district programs.
Owen: The park district has to be ever changing to meet the needs of the community. As demographics in Arlington Heights change or shift, so do the needs of its residents. The park district has to continue to access those needs and change programming accordingly to meet those needs. The park district has to be able to offer or partner with organizations such as AHYAA to provide the programming needed to the community.