It is difficult to overstate the significance of the Nov. 2 vote in favor of retaining the Riverside Parks and Recreation Board. When the majority voting bloc on the village board short-circuited the referendum process by eliminating the Parks and Recreation Board before the referendum vote, many were concerned that a what’s-done-is-done apathy might ensue.
Instead, residents all over our village rallied to demand their voices be heard. In a huge turnout, 2,710 voters said loudly and clearly that they want an independent parks and recreation board just as was established by popular vote in 1937. That is more than the total number of votes cast in the 2009 village president/trustee election.
The opportunity before us is to establish a parks and recreation board that provides impartial, non-political oversight of our parks and recreation along with a more efficient and accountable administrative structure. We should discuss whether there are ways to enhance the care of our parks and the delivery of recreational programming for our residents with any eye toward creating an improved parks and recreation board pursuant to the referendum’s mandate.
The people have spoken, and President Gorman and trustees Sacchi, Shevitz and Reynolds should listen. It is time for them to reverse their premature decision and reinstate the Riverside Parks and Recreation Board in accord with the stated will of the people. There is nothing wrong with making a mistake so long as we correct it when given the chance, and now is that chance. Working together, we can ensure our residents have the beautiful parks and vibrant recreational opportunities they deserve.
Ben Sells is a Riverside village trustee.