Park District to Consider Legal Action to Reopen

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The Naperville Park District Board of Commissioners will consider taking legal action to give itself the right to reopen its programs and facilities at its own discretion.

The agenda item for tomorrow’s meeting reads, “Consider legal relief related to Naperville Park District response to Restore Illinois Order, seeking authority through emergency court action allowing the duly elected Board of Park Commissioners to make reopening decisions that are in the best interest of our community, regardless of what is best for Chicago and Cook County.”

“Our Mission Is At Stake”

At least two commissioners need to support discussing an item for it to be added to an agenda. Park Board President Rich Janor didn’t identify which commissioners requested adding this item, but did say he supports it being added.

“Our mission as a park district is at stake,” said Janor. “Anytime we make a decision, we need to look to the mission of the park district – to be able to provide recreational opportunities and amenities. And since our mission is at stake here, that warrants strong consideration from the board.”

Restore Illinois Plan

The state’s Restore Illinois Plan divides Illinois into four regions. Some local leaders, including Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico, have publicly stated frustration at Naperville being grouped in the same region as Chicago and Cook County – the parts of the state with the highest concentration of COVID-19 cases. They say this will delays to reopen and will intensify the economic impact of the stay-at-home order.

The Naperville Park District has complied with all stay-at-home order requirements thus far. Playgrounds, athletic fields and other park district facilities will remain closed through May. Golf courses, tennis courts, and pickleball courts were allowed to reopen with restrictions on May 1.

“This isn’t targeted towards one particular program or facility or organization,” said Janor. “It’s just all of our programming in general and there are certain programs and certain amenities and facilities that perhaps should remain closed longer.”

Advocating For Local Decision-Making

Speaking for himself, not the entire park board, Janor said, “I think we’re in a better position to make those decisions for our community, as opposed to having these orders dictated to us by perhaps a government that doesn’t understand what exactly is going on in our own community.”

The item will be discussed during the New Business part of the meeting, which will be held at 7 p.m. tomorrow over Zoom.

Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.


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