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updated: 2/22/2013 6:05 PM

Matthew Gauntt: Candidate Profile

Geneva Park Board (6-year Terms) (Republican)

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  • Matthew Gauntt, running for Geneva Park Board (6-year Terms)

    Matthew Gauntt, running for Geneva Park Board (6-year Terms)




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.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A



City: Geneva


Office sought: Geneva Park Board (6-year Terms)

Age: 47

Family: Married for 22 years to my wife Ellen. Two children: Alesha - 18 and Zach - 16

Occupation: Civil Engineer

Education: B.S. Civil Engineering, University of Kansas, 1989

Civic involvement: Baseball Coach - Geneva Baseball Association. Former Vice President of the Fox Valley Woodworkers Club Hanover Park Development Commission - Chairman; 1997-1998 Northwest Suburban Mass Transit District; 1997-1998 Metra Citizen's Advisory Board; 1997-1998

Elected offices held: Committeeman, Blackberry Township Village of Hanover Park, Village Trustee, 1998 - 2001

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Maintaining the facilities that we have. As a relatively built-out community we have a number of park facilities throughout the City and the unincorporated areas within the Park District. Some of those facilities are in need of repair and/or upgrade. I want to make sure that the staff focuses their resources on maintaining and upgrading those facilities before we expand into new ones.

Key Issue 2

Although the Geneva Park District's percentage of the property tax bill is only about 5.5 percent of what we pay in total, it is important to remember that many of us have gone through periods over the last four years where paychecks have been lower than we had been used to or non-existent. Any spending has to be viewed within that prism. All of the programs and purchases have to be balanced against whether it is truly a needed expenditure and the lifecycle cost.

Key Issue 3

Providing better recreational facilities for the kids and young adults, related to the first issue above. I think there are ways of doing this that would be low cost or part of ongoing maintenance. For instance, when I lived in a previous community out of state, the Park District and the School District worked together to open up the gymnasiums at some of the local schools for people to participate in unscheduled gym time for pick-up basketball games and other activities. This would be a low cost way to increase opportunities for all, especially during the winter months.

Questions & Answers

What programs aren't paying for themselves? Would you keep, eliminate or change them? How and why?

Overall, the Park District has done a very good job of having a "pay as you play" approach to revenue and spending. Ten years ago only about 26 percent of the District's revenue came from fees, whereas now that figure is up to about 36 percent. I've attended the Park District Board meetings for about the last 9 months in preparation for running for the office and at almost every meeting one or more programs are evaluated. Certain programs such as the racquetball courts have seen a significant decline in usage as people have changed their interests. Mini-golf has seen a similar decline. It is possible that one of the racquetball courts could be re-purposed for a different use. In the case of mini-golf, a dedicated employee has been exploring ways of providing other amenities such as disc-golf, which has helped to rejuvenate that facility.

Is there any additional open space the park district needs to acquire? Please describe.

Over roughly the last 10 years as the community has grown the Park District has added approximately 40 acres, representing an approximate 6 percent growth. At the same time, the population of the Park District has increased by about 4,000 residents or about 15 percent. As the economy has stagnated since the fall of 2008, many properties have become significantly more affordable. Nearly all of the open space referendums that have been put on the ballot during the time I have been a resident have passed overwhelmingly. While I don't think the Park District should go on a spending spree with open space, properties that make strategic sense and are below market value should be openly viewed for acquisition.

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?

There are two areas that should be examined. One is additional soccer and/or football fields. The Park District's Master plan identified the need for additional soccer fields. The other area would be a tournament facility for baseball. Currently, the best facilities for baseball are the Peck fields. I would like to see the Distric construct a The organic way to establish more fields is to work with residential land developers to set-aside land within new subdivisions. However, looking at the general real estate market, I doubt if any major new subdivisions will be constructed within the next 3-4 years. So, major expansions may have to wait until the economy improves. Outside of that, improvements could be made to underutilized parks such as Kay Lovett Park and Randall Square Park, which both have backstops, but the infields are almost unusable.

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?

Any time that there can be a mutually beneficial sharing agreement between various forms of government, I would support it. For instance, the Park District partners with the School District to run Friendship Station. The Park District, Forest Preserve District and the City of Geneva collaboratively created the Community Gardens. Above I mentioned a possible gymnasium sharing between the School District and the Park District. There could be others, such as the Library District bringing out books and educational material to the Peck Farm Interpretive Center. However, any cooperative effort has to be well thought through so it doesn't end up being a duplication of efforts. I think it should be mentioned that these entities are each their own taxing bodies and the commingling of tax payers funds should be done very carefully. But with that said there are many opportunities for these organizations to cooperatively offer joint programs or events saving each of the organizations tax dollars.

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.

For a number of years, I have been an assistant coach for various baseball teams within the Geneva Baseball Association. After enjoying the facilities provided by the Park District I wanted to give back to the community. As a civil engineer I have designed and overseen the construction of numerous recreational facilities, so there was no other office I would run for because this is where my passion and expertise is.