Thomas C. Reese: Candidate Profile
Mount Prospect parks
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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
City: Mt. Prospect
Office sought: Mount Prospect parks
Family: Wife: Gayle, teacher District 15 Son: Todd, Chemical engineer with Abbott Labs, married Son: Brent, Graphic designer with Lighthouse Christian Products, married Son: Christopher, Science teacher looking for an opportunity
Occupation: Physician, Alexian Brothers Occupational Health and Immediate Care, Mt. Prospect.
Education: B.A. Biology and Pre-med, Augustana College, Rock Island, IL
M.D., University of Illinois
Internal Medicine Residency, Lutheran General Hospital, Park Ridge, IL
Civic involvement: Mt. Prospect Park District Commissioner 1991-present.
Mt. Prospect Park District Foundation 1995-present.
Lutheran Church of Martha and Mary, Mt. Prospect 1980-present.
Mexico Mission participant 2000-present
Mt Prospect Shining Star award 2006
Prospect Band Booster 1994-2000
""A Better Life for Kids"" Foundation,Board of Directors. A foundation to provide better living conditions and educatioanal opportunities for orphans in Ghana
Elected offices held: Mt. Prospect Park District Commissioner 1991-present. Served as president for 6 years, vice-president for 2 years.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.
Key Issue 1
To maintain the high quality and variety of park district parks, facilities and programs while remaining fiscally responsible.
Key Issue 2
Continue to seek out and encourage resident input and involvement in caring for the assets of the park district.
Key Issue 3
Maintain park district infrastructure. These may not be headline grabbing items, but keeping a schedule for roof replacement, parking lot resurfacing, tuck pointing, and ensuring basic building integrity is of vital importance for the operation of the district.
What programs aren't paying for themselves? Would you keep, eliminate or change them? How and why?
Park district programs are not run like enterprise funds. User fees do not completely cover the cost of programs for residents. The cost is balanced between user fees and tax revenues, and because of this, the park district can offer a wide variety of programs and facilities. Every effort is made to keep popular programs running, at affordable rates.
Programs that don't attract a minimum number of participants may cancelled, or may be dropped completely. But if residents express an interest in a particular program or activity, as a disrtict we certainly look at ways to make it happen. We try to listen to our residents and provide the recreational opportunities they indicate they want.
Is there any additional open space the park district needs to acquire? Please describe.
Acquisition of open space is always on the park district's radar. It seems that each year more and more residents sign up for our athletic programs that require outdoor space such as baseball,softball, football, soccer, and the like.In addition, requests have been made for a frisbee golf course, a golf driving range, a dog park.
Open space is at a premium. Not all fields can be used at all times for athletics. Use of fields must be rotated to maintain good turf and good playing surfaces, so additional land for additional fields is always sought. But not all parks should just be athletic fields.
Providing parks for more passive activities is also important. Many residents just want to enjoy a more tranquil green open space.In a suburban area with lots of pavement, providing green open space is a major component of what any park district should be about. It is a way of being a good steward of our environment, and a way of providing the open space expected by park district residents.
So if various parcels become available, they will be examined as possible acquistions.
Are there any unmet recreational needs? If yes, what are they and how would you propose paying for them? Or, should they wait until the economy improves?
A dog park, a frisbee golf course, a driving range, an out door pool on the district's south side, are among some current unmet needs. Talks are underway with neighboring park districts, and with the Water Reclamation District to work together to accomplish some of these projects. Certainly we cannot spend beyond our means, but in working together with other entities in creative ways, we can share the cost and share the benefits with the other agencies. Completeing the Veteran's Memorial Garden next to the band shell is another unmet need. The Park District Foundation is taking a lead in raising funds to forward this project.
As a community and as a park district we need to offer more activites for seniors. Today's seniors are very active people, and increasing our programming for them will help fill another big unmet need.
Would you support sharing/pooling resources (i.e. printing, vehicles) with other local governments (school districts, village, etc.)? If so, what areas would you consider combining or merging to save money or improve efficiency?
This is absolutely important. The village and the local school districts serve the same residents that the park district serves, so it only makes sense that we should work together. The park district already has a long history of doing this. We work with School Districts 57,59, and 214 for joint use of gym space, athletic fields, and auditoriums.
Many schools and parks are adjacent, and playground equipment paid for by PTAs are on park district land for use by school children and neighborhood children. Special events such as the Mid-Summer Block Party are the result of the village and park district working together. The Memorial Day and Veteran's Day observances involve cooperation of the village, the park district, the VFW, and the American Legion.
The 4th of July Carnival happens because the Lion's Club and the park district work together. Maple Trails Park is an example of a cooperative effort between Mt. Prospect Park District, River Trails Park District, and Kensington Business Center. Looking into bulk purchasing of office supplies, lawn and shrub care products, gasoline, and other consumables used by the park district and other local entities should be explored more fully.
If you are a newcomer, what prompted you to run for the park board? If you're an incumbent, list your accomplishments or key initiatives in which you played a leadership role.
As an incumbent, I understand that the park district facilities, parks, and programs are interdependant upon one another. They are in a carefully maintained balance, and a change in one can affect many others. If a commissioner were interested in only one feature of the park district, it would be very difficult for that person to care for the entire district. Because of my interest in the district as a whole, I've been able to play a role in many developments.
I've listened to the residents of the park district, and we have been able to improve our programs, so that program participation and revenue have increased annually. I've worked with neighbors who live near neighborhood parks, and received their input to help them redesign many neighborhood parks throuhout the district. I've helped acquire additional green space to many areas of the district by obtaining LAWCON and OSLAD grants. I've worked with District 57 to reach agreements for joint use of gym space. I've been involved as Rec-Plex became a successful facility. I've given input to help design Meadows Pool and The Central Community Center.
I helped with the planning of the new golf course club house, and am talking with staff about the best way to deal with the golf course's current irrigation system. I was involved with the search for and development of the new maintenance facility, a centrally located facility to ensure efficiency in maintaining our properties. I was involved with the plans to improve the athletic fields at Melas Park. 19 years ago I started the Stallions Baseball league with the Mt. Prospect Baseball Association. It was the league that gave kids with disablities a chance to play real baseball, and today it still continues within the park district baseball program.
I have given support as the park district introduced its new computer registration system. I have served on the policy committee to make sure we are good employers to our staff, and make sure the assets of the district are protected. I carefully review the budget year after year, and have seen our district win the award for Excellence in Government Financial Reporting for the past 11 years in a row.
Also in these tight economic times, the park district has maintained favorable fund balances and its excellent AA bond rating. I helped to create the Parks Foundation, and also served as its first president. I continue to sit on that board as a commissioner liason. I've insisted that the board always listen to residents, and made ""Residents To Be Heard"" a permanent item on EVERY regular park board meeting agenda. I've tried to encourage input from residents with every move.
The park district belongs to them. I am only the caretaker. I love this park district, and I am proud of what we as a community have been able to accomplish. I am hopeful that the residents will give me the opportunity to continue serve in this way.
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