If Monday’s vote on Trustee Ben Sells’ proposal to revive the Riverside Parks and Recreation Board demonstrated one thing, it’s how toxic the debate about this issue has become and what it’s really all about.

It’s about power and ramming through a political agenda that practically nobody was asking for.

Whether the village has an independent recreation board or an advisory commission, in practice, probably won’t make a whole lot of difference. The old rec board deferred on many matters to the village manager’s office and the wishes of the village board.

The recreation department itself is in good hands with Director Ron Malchiodi and with a new group of commissioners who appear to be passionate about recreation.

But what the authors of this legislation – primarily Trustee Lonnie Sacchi – have never been able to admit, is that this was fundamentally about power, not about the way the recreation department functions.

As far as we can tell, no one other than Sacchi ever suggested eliminating the recreation board, which was established in 1937. Not many people complained there was anything particularly wrong with the way the recreation department was being run. To be sure, there were people, including Sacchi, who didn’t like what the former rec director was being paid, but we still can’t figure out why, other than sheer stubbornness, Sacchi and his allies on the village board pushed so hard on this issue.

As the advisory referendum in November showed, this issue was a loser for them and cast them in the role of the villains in regard to recreation. Is that what they really wanted? The board majority spent an enormous amount of political capital on this issue, and for what? According to them, nothing’s changed. That’s an awful lot of resentment in exchange for no change.

Was it worth it?


Glad to have market back

It’s heartening to hear that the Riverside Farmers Market will be back this summer on Wednesday afternoons on East Burlington Street. After a shaky end to the 2010 season, the future of the market was in some doubt, especially as the village’s Economic Development Commission was pulling back from its initial role as the market’s organizing force.

This summer a group of volunteers has taken up the challenge and is putting together a vendor list for the market. You can help by visiting the Village of Riverside’s website (www.riverside.il.us) and participating in a survey. Go to the “For Residents” pull-down menu and click on “Farmers Market” to find the survey. It’ll take you about five minutes, max, to complete.

However, moving forward, if the market is to thrive, we believe it’s going to take something more than a small group of volunteers. In Brookfield, where a farmers market has begun to take off, the local chamber of commerce has been indispensible and has aided in getting grants.

In the future, that’s the kind of buy-in that will be needed for the Riverside market to succeed. In the meantime, Riverside can thank its dedicated group of volunteers for keeping the market going when it seemed about to fade into history last fall.