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Illinois Association of Park Districts

by Eugene Berghoff Executive Vice President

A number of times during the year, I am asked, "What is the Illinois Association of Park Districts? Why should our district be a member? What is the future for park, conservation and forest preserve districts in Illinois?" In answering these questions, I point out that your association is the strongest state organization dedicated to promoting and improving park and recreation programs and activities. This, of course, includes introducing legislation that provides the laws so boards can carry out effective programs that benefit the greatest number of citizens in their areas, and opposing bills introduced in the General Assembly that would be detrimental to our future goals. Every district, board or local government agency, charged with the responsibility of administering any or all types of leisure time programs, should be organized into a statewide association to assist the members of these boards in getting the knowledge, advice and assistance in carrying out the responsibilities of their office.

I believe everyone will agree that the strength of an association is only improved through full participation by all members and their gain is based on the active input to the organization.

Thus, your attendance at association meetings, seminars and the Annual Conference is mandatory if we are to provide effective leadership.

Take time to review the amount of services and the benefits provided by the association and the legislation that has been enacted, down through the years, which has given guidelines for providing better parks for more people.

In summary, you receive no more from any organization or assocation, that what you are willing to contribute to improving services and programs.

Looking ahead to the future, the number one objective must be the passage of House Bill 1779, which gives state revenues to our districts, not only in maintaining current facilities and programs, but also to give each board the financial backing to plan new facilities and improving existing ones.

Wherever possible, current property tax rates must be adjusted to increase your revenues at the local level, to account for the loss in assessed valuation and the increased cost of operation brought about by the economic conditions that presently exist.

The park and recreation movement in Illinois is definitely on the upward trend, as we have visited a number of communities, throughout the state, who are seeking to establish park districts in their communities as they have discovered, from past experience, that adequate programs and facilities cannot be provided by other local government agencies. This, of course, would not only provide new membership for the association, but also increase job opportunities.

As I have noted several times in the past, our future will be controlled by your effective membership in the association and we can only reach the goals that you desire if you are willing to offer suggestions, constructive criticism, and take the time to assist the staff and board of directors for the betterment of our organization.

I wish to congratulate our membership for its response in contacting members of the General Assembly, which was a great assistance to us in the passage of a number of bills during 1975. Members were also quite active in supplying this office with the property tax revenue information which resulted in the compiling of an excellent report to be presented to the House Revenue Committee with respect to House Bill 1779. I urge you to remain in contact with your State Representatives and Senators, not only by phone or letter, but by inviting them to attend one of your board meetings, so they can be informed as to your financial problems and it would certainly affect their vote in granting financial assistance by the state to your district.

Our retiring president, Webster D. Wiley, Kewanee, devoted many hours, above and beyond the normal duties of his office, that resulted in a very successful year.

We sponsored our first legislative reception which was an overwhelming success and, I am recommending that it be continued in 1976. A new Directory was published and our Commissioner's Manual is being revised and should be available in the near future. A

Illinois Parks and Recreation 14 January/February, 1976

supplement to the Park District Code is also being published, which will include all the new laws. A number of meetings and seminars were sponsored throughout Illinois and I am gratified at the great number of commissioners and staff personnel that availed themselves in meeting as a group, to discuss mutual problems and provide answers.

When I assumed the position as your Executive Vice President, one of the future goals I mentioned, back in 1971, was the necessity of appointing a field service representative for the Chicago metropolitan area, to improve services to all members in that part of the state. I am happy to report that your board of directors approved the appointment of Sam Basan, retiring Director of Joliet Park District, as the first field representative of this Association. Sam has the experience, qualifications and abilities to assist other members of our staff in up-grading communications with our members.

Thanks to Allan A. Weissburg, Skokie, IAPD Conference Chairman, Jack Claes, Elk Grove Village, IPRS Conference Chairman, and members of their committees for arranging a very successful conference in 1975.

The members of our board of directors must be recognized for their contributions in providing and improving the policies of the association, which guaranteed adequate leadership and the improvement of the overall operations of the association.

On behalf of Mr. Wiley, we wish to express our thanks to the members of the various committees that functioned throughout the year in helping the board and staff.

As of the date of this report, 231 districts were enrolled as members, which once again establishes a new record.

A complete audit and financial report will be published and available, following the end of our fiscal year, December 31, 1975.

Mr. Henry C. Deihl, incoming president, is presently reviewing a number of recommendations that he intends to implement in his over-all program for 1976. Following the conference, he will meet with members of the staff and prepare a schedule of events for 1976, and include his recommendations for improving the services and expanding our legislative program. He, of course, will need your support if 1976 is to be successful.

By pulling together and setting aside our minor differences, I am confident that a number of our future goals can be attained next year. Won't you let us serve you in 1976? Retain your membership and bring along a new member to provide organized strength in building the largest state association in the nation into a greater one.

Illinois Parks and Recreation 15 January/February, 1976

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