Riverside village trustees on June 20 turned back the hands of time and voted unanimously to re-establish the Riverside Parks and Recreation Board, scrapping the advisory commission the previous village board established in 2010.
The move gives the recreation board more autonomy and authority over specifically designated park areas within the village. The parks and recreation director will still report to the village manager and the village board will have final say over expenditures made by the group.
In contrast to the bitterly contested 4-3 vote establishing an advisory commission for recreation in 2010, the re-establishment of the recreation board sailed through two readings of the ordinance. In 2010, the village board debated the measure for more than four months before putting it to a vote.
That November, Ben Sells, who is now village president and was then a trustee, led a push to put an advisory referendum on the ballot, asking residents if they wanted an independent recreation board. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the question, with 2,750 choosing an autonomous board and just 746 voting against it.
The village board majority at that time refused to reverse their decision, which was made in September. But when Sells was elected president in April 2013, he made re-establishing the recreation board his first priority.
According to Sells, he has invited all five of the current recreation commissioners to remain on the recreation board, and all have accepted the offer. The board members will be re-appointed to their seats at the next village board meeting on July 11.
The first official meeting of the recreation board will be on July 22 at 7 p.m. inside the water tower, 10 Pine Ave.
Sells said he would name Katie Leander chairwoman of the recreation board. The term of the chair is for one year. Former Chairwoman Susan Casey, who was named to that post in 2010, will remain on the board.