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Illinois Parks & Recreation
November / December 1995 • Volume 26, Number 6

Legal / Legislative
Legislative Year a Success

by Peter M. Murphy
IAPD General Counsel

Without question 1995 was one of the most successful legislative years in IAPD's history.

Our long struggle to return to park districts and forest preserves the ability to issue limited tax bonds, passed after more than 31/2 years of work.

This measure restores common sense to the tax cap and was a much needed clarification. In addition to this success, many major pieces of legislation passed including those providing for early retirement incentives, limiting the liability of local governments, providing for a consolidated Department of Natural Resources, and funding Conservation 2000.

A short synopsis of major legislative issues follows. If you have any questions on specific pieces of legislation or would like a copy of any bill, please do not hesitate to contact the IAPD offices.

Forest Preserve District Endowment
A Downstate district may establish an endowment fund, derived only from private sources, to finance long-term maintenance and improvements of its land and facilities, Any such fund must be annually audited by a certified public accountant (P.A. 89-119, enacted by S.B. 711).

Local Self-Insurance
A local government may self-insure and set up reserves for expected losses for which it is allowed to buy insurance. The reserves may not exceed 125% of an actuary's or insurance underwriter's estimate of ultimate losses.

Open Meetings Act
If an open meeting is held and proper notice of it was given, a legally closed meeting may be held along with it without additional notice. The exception to the open meetings act permitting discussion of the buying or leasing of real property is explicitly stated to cover discussion of whether or not to acquire a parcel (P.A. 89-86, enacted by S.B. 830).

Police Training
The Illinois Police Training Act was expanded to require specified training of persons appointed as part-time police officers (in addition to those permanently appointed as full-time police officers as under current law). Training for part-time officers must have similar content and the same number of hours as training of full- time officers (P.A. 89-170, enacted by S.B. 441).

State Mandates Reimbursement
The Department of Commerce and Community Affairs (DCCA) will review local applications for reimbursement only if the General Assembly appropriates funds for reimbursement. If there is no appropriation, a local government may ask DCCA to determine whether a Public Act is a mandate, and if it is, the statewide cost to implement it. If DCCA fails to respond within 120 days after reimbursement application or mandate determination request, a local government may ask the State Mandates Board of Review (formerly of "Appeals") to decide (P.A. 89- 304, enacted by H.B. 661).

Conservation 2000
A Conservation 2000 Fund and Conservation 2000 Projects Fund will be used to

10 Illinois Parks & Recreation November/December 1995

Legal/Legislative scene

establish a comprehensive program to protect Illinois' natural resources. The first fund will come from general revenues; the other will get bond proceeds and any other money provided by law. They can be appropriated to the Illinois EPA and departments of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Transportation for projects such as protecting ecosystems through conservation easements and other incentives to landowners, and monitoring natural resources and ecological conditions (P.A. 89-49. enacted by S.B. 300).

Extension Limitation Act
The Property Tax Extension Limitation Act was expanded to include all non-home-rule units in Cook County. As in the collar counties, tax extension increases are limited to the lessor of (a) 5% or (b) the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) in the preceding year. The limits may be exceeded with referendum approval and do not apply to 1) home-rule units, 2) taxing districts that were covered by tax extension limits before February 12, 1995; 3) taxes to pay interest or principal on general obligation bonds or refunding bonds approved by referendum or issued before March 1995; 4) bond payments to pay off public building commission leases entered into before March 1,1995; or 5) bonds to pay off Metropolitan Water Reclamation District projects started before October 1995 (P.A. 89-1, enacted by H.B. 200).

Open Space
Cook County (previously only downstate counties) must, on request, assess land of over 10 acres that has been open space for the last three years at its fair value for use as open-space land. As in downstate, this can apply to a golf course (P.A. 89-137, enacted by S.B. 133).

Rink Liability—Hockey
A new Hockey Facility Liability Act exempts ice hockey rinks from liability if a spectator is hit by a stick or puck, unless a) the person was behind a screen glass, or other protective device that failed due to negligence, or b) the injury was due to "willful and wanton" conduct by the owner, operator, or a player or coach they employ (P.A. 89-87, enacted by S.B. 857).

Rink Liability—Roller Skating
A new Roller Skating Rink Safety Act declares duties of both rink operators and skaters. Operators must meet safety standards of the Roller Skating Rink Operators Association; keep equipment in good condition; and have at least one supervisor per 200 skaters, among other requirements. Skaters must maintain reasonable control, heed signs and warnings, and take other precautions. Suits by skaters are barred unless an operator did not perform a duty in the Act (P.A. 89-37, enacted by S.B.313).

A new act changed many provisions of laws on civil suits for legal wrongs. Some changes apply to suits filed on or after March 9,1995; others apply only to causes of action accruing on or after that day. Examples of the changes include the following.

Joint or Several Liability
Joint liability (under which any solvent defendant can be required to pay up to the entire amount of damages) is abolished in suits for bodily harm or property damage based on fault. A defendant will be liable only for that defendant's proportionate contribution to actual damages. But if the $500,000 limit on noneconomic damages (discussed later) is invalidated, defendants in medical malpractice cases based on wrongful death or negligence can again be jointly and severally liable. Joint liability is also abolished for environmental harm.

Landowners' Liability
The care that an owner of land or a building owes to adult entrants does not include a duty to warn of conditions that are obvious, that the entrant knows of or can reasonably be expected to discover, or that are unknown to the owner—effectively overruling Ward v. Kmart Corp. (1990). The only duty of a landowner to an adult trespasser is avoiding willful and wanton acts endangering the safety of a known trespasser—effectively overruling Lee v. CTA (1992).

Noneconomic Damages
Total noneconomic damages in suits for physical harm are limited to $500,000 per plaintiff (adjusted annually for inflation). No plaintiff may recover for hedonic damages (loss of enjoyment of life).

Damaging Public Property
Criminal damage to property supported by any government (now only state or federal property) becomes a felony, of Class 4 to Class 1 depending on damage (P.A. 89-30, enacted by S.B. 111).

Structural Work Act
The Structural Work Act ("Scaffold Act") has been repealed. It allowed workers hurt on scaffolds, ladders, or other vertical structures to sue employer for damages in addition to workers' compensation (P.A. 89-2. enacted by H.B. 201).

H.B. 901 would make numerous changes in the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Program and would require most motor fuel importers, refiners, and distributors to pay $60 per 7,500 gallons of fuel sold or used in Illinois. Proceeds would go to the Underground Storage Tank Fund.

H.B. 974 provides a number of changes to the Park District Code that will be addressed during the spring session of me 1996 General Assembly. These include: permitting the enforcement of park district ordinances in property owned outside a district's boundaries; and requiring annexation ordinances to be filed only in the county where the annexation takes place.

Illinois Parks & Recreation • November/December 1995 • 11


$3.1 Million in Bike Path Grants Awarded

Governor Jim Edgar awarded $3.1 million to develop 83 miles of bicycle paths in 34 community projects that will provide expanded recreational opportunities and important transportation links throughout Illinois.

More than 385 miles of trails have been funded since the inception of the bicycle path grant program six years ago.

The Department of Natural Resources, which administers the program, received 42 applications requesting $3.9 million.

The grants are available to any local government having statutory authority to acquire and develop land for public recreation. Grants are funded from a percentage of motor vehicle title transfer fees and provide up to 50 percent of an approved project's total cost. Grants to develop projects are limited to $200,000. There is no cap for acquisition projects.

Applications for the next cycle of grants will be accepted January 1 through March 1, 1996.

The following park districts and forest preserves were awarded grants. The Bicycle Path Grant Program is a direct result of IAPD's lobbying efforts.

Chicago Park District - $200,000 to realign a heavily used 1/2-mile portion of lakefront trail in Lincoln Park. This realignment will resolve a serious safety problem by eliminating several 90-degree turns and mid-street crossings.

Cook County Forest Preserve District - $200,000 to construct a 2-mile section of bicycle trail within the Tinley Creek Bicycle Trail system, a significant regional greenway in southwest Cook County. A parking lot and bridge over Tinley Creek are also included in the project.

Crete Park District - $43,200 to construct about 2 miles of 8-foot-wide asphalt trail utilizing city utility easements and an abandoned railroad right-of-way purchased in 1993 by the park district with a bike path grant. The trail will be the first in this rapidly growing community, and the project involves a significant amount of donated earthwork by a local developer.

Flagg-Rochelle Community Park District - $41,500 to acquire land and easements for the development of 3.7 miles of paved recreation/bike path in Rochelle. The bike path will link four public parks, four schools, five churches, residential areas, a child care center, the area's little league complex and me neighboring village of Hillcrest.

Highland Park Park District - $104,500
to construct 1.7 miles of asphalt path through Centennial Park. The trail will link directly into the pathways in adjacent Sleepy Hollow Park on the south and to a residential sidewalk system on the northwest.

Lockport Township Park District, Will County - $97,600 to construct the Village of Romeoville's first bicycle trail. The 2.5- mile trail will connect the existing Sunset Park with Romeoville High School and the township's new water park development.

Pekin Park District - $45,500 to develop 4.2 miles of 10-foot-wide asphalt trail from Allentown Road on the east side of Pekin to the Illinois River. The trail will utilize abandoned railroad right-of-way, park district property and city street right-of-way. The trail will connect Coal Miner's Park, Mineral Springs Park and the high school campuses to the downtown riverfront.

Peoria Park District/City of Peoria - $200,000 to construct an 0.8-mile trail which is a critical link to connect the existing Pimiteoui Trail to the Robert Michel Bridge bicycle lane. This trail will provide the residents of Peoria convenient access to 14.5 miles of bike trails on both sides of the Illinois River.

Rockford Park District - $187300 to
construct 1.25 miles of 12-foot-wide paved trail that will provide a critical underpass of U.S. 20/1-39 and allow bike/ pedestrian access from the Southeast Community Park and Cherry Valley Mall area to the Village of Cherry Valley.

Springfield Park District - $55,000 for
the development of 2.8 miles of the first bicycle path in Springfield. This path will run northwest from Douglas Park to Stuart Park and allow individuals to commute to government offices and businesses near the heart of the city.

Washington Park District - $58,000 to
construct a 2.3-mile, 10-foot-wide recreational trail which will link residential and business areas, two elementary schools, one high school and a large city park.

Will County Forest Preserve District - $200,000 to construct 2.25 miles of 10- foot-wide asphalt trail through two sections of scenic Hickory Creek Preserve which will link residential areas in Mokena to the planned 20-mile Old Plank Road Trail and to the Frankfort Township swimming pool.

Zion Park District - $38,000 to construct a one-mile bicycle trail in Shiloh Park. This new trail will establish a vital link from Shiloh Park to the existing 7-mile trail system. Shiloh Park, with its extensive boulevard systems, is the major and central focus of the Zion Park District.

For more information about the program, contact IAPD at 217/523-4554 or the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Grant Administration, 524 S.Second St., Springfield, IL 62701-1787, or call 217/782-7481 or 217/782-9175 (TDD)

12 * Illinois Parks & Recreation • November/December 1995

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