More arts classes and more sports fields.
Those items were on the wish list of three residents who came to the Morton Grove Park District planning meeting Jan. 29. One also expressed her disappointment at the sudden, unexplained departure of the district's executive director, Brian Sullivan, last October.
The park district is in the middle of a Master Plan planning process for the future, and Darrell Garrison and Lori Vierow of Planning Resources Inc., a Wheaton-based planning firm, conducted the second of two community workshops designed to gather community input.
A third community workshop, which Garrison, the CEO of Planning Resources, described as, "we'll tell you what we thought we heard from you and you tell us if we're right" is yet to be scheduled.
Residents speak up about what they want
At last week's meeting, residents got a chance to tell the planners their views on the park district.
Kristina Otte, a parent and founder of the Morton Grove Farmer's Market, said,"Arts education needs to be majorly increased. I’m on the verge of wanting to start my own arts program."
Another parent, Robin Lindquist, agreed. "We have dance, piano, guitar," she said. "But drama is something a lot of people would like to see," and the others agreed that theater and drawing and visual art was needed.
Garrison responded that his team is looking at the past three years of program brochures to gather data on which programs, if any, were cancelled and why they were cancelled.
Samina Hussain, a parent and member of the Golf School District 67 board, said baseball teams could use a time and place to practice during the season, instead of only holding practice before the season begins.
Vierow said she was hearing there are not enough baseball fields, so that once baseball season starts, teams have nowhere to practice because all the fields are occupied.
Otte also suggested there be more cooperation and collaboration between various governments, such as the park district, school districts and library, in Morton Grove.
Executive director left suddenly
The residents brought up the fact that Executive Director Brian Sullivan left his position suddenly and unexpectedly Oct. 22.
"I was shocked. I thought he had a wealth of ideas," said Lindquist. "I know from my dealings with him he was wonderful, he was bright, positive, a good listener, and he wanted to make this a better park district.
"So I was really disheartened when I heard he was gone, and I’m glad to hear things are continuing."
No one knows the circumstances of why he left, and nothing was ever said publicly or through word of mouth, she said.
Hussain said she never realized until recently that he had left the post.
Garrison assured the residents the park board was very much behind the planning process and that he had heard from the interim director, Rich Grodsky, within about a week after he stepped into the role.
However, the district's website does not name anyone as executive director or interim director.
What the planning process entails
Garrison said his firm has already completed many of the steps in the planning process and is working on others. They include:
- Demographic analysis (of the population; this helps in determining how many youth and senior programs are needed, and how much outreach in foreign languages is needed, for example)
- Data inventory & analysis
- Buildings & Facilities (noting conditions)
- Public Input Process:
- Community-wide Online Survey, 411 responses so far
- Mail Survey, in process, 101 responses to date
- Stakeholder interviews/focus group meetings with mayor, library, schools, police, fire, religious institutions, farmers market, etc.(complete)
- Community workshop (Oct. 10, 2012)
- Community Workshop (Jan. 29, 2013)
- Community Workshop #3 (to be scheduled)
From this point onward, the planners will continue analyzing and complete the preliminary master plan, Garrison said. They will review it with the park board and staff, prepare budget estimates and develop priority recommendations for the short, mid and long range.
They will then fine-tune the plan with staff and present it to the park board, with hopes for its adoption by April.