As a resident with a background in building and construction, I am concerned about the emerging pattern of a majority of the Riverside village trustees ignoring the advice of our department heads and other professionals.
At its July meeting, the board considered the need for replacing equipment in our ball fields and playgrounds and providing funds for preventive maintenance. Director Kosey, who holds a Ph.D. in her field and is a certified playground equipment inspector, reported the need to replace fencing for a backstop, to replace soccer goals that had become dangerously degraded through use and exposure and to provide maintenance funds for our playground equipment.
Trustee Ben Sells, the board’s liaison for the Parks and Recreation Department, supported this maintenance, saying that he was not willing to “duct tape” Riverside or to wait for a child to be injured before doing necessary maintenance. He urged that public facilities be properly maintained and not repaired in a patchwork manner.
Dr. Kosey’s professional advice was ignored by the majority. On nothing more than their own uninformed beliefs, the majority decided that things could be patched together more cheaply and that maintenance should wait until something breaks. Not only was Dr. Kosey’s advice ignored, the village president publicly derided her for her views.
What she said needs replacing should either be replaced or removed; what she said needs fixing should be either be fixed or removed. To not do so opens the village to serious liability issues.
This pattern repeated itself at the August board meeting. The Village’s public works director informed the board that the driveway at Fire Station No. 2, which houses our emergency response equipment, needed replacing. It has more than outlived its expected life and has become structurally unsound.
Again, the majority ignored this advice. Because a couple of the trustees had “taken a look” at the driveway, they decided on temporary patches, even when it was made clear that this was the more expensive route. Rather than do the project right for the long term, they chose to do it on the cheap for the short term.
Why do we pay staff? If the majority is going to insist that they know better than the professionals we pay to provide advice and guidance, then why not just get rid of these professionals? It would save money in the short term, which seems to be the only thing the majority is concerned about.
As a builder, I know that the consequences of cutting corners and trying to get by on the cheap are never good. Over time this approach will degrade our village, demoralize our staff, and lower our property values. Our village and its residents deserve to have things done right and to not wait until something fails and somebody gets hurt to respond.
Mike Foley is a Riverside resident.