Stephen Kurka: Candidate Profile
Mount Prospect Park Board (4-year Terms)
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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, IL
Office sought: Mount Prospect Park Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married, Linda Kurka, no children
Occupation: Financial Consultant, AXA Advisors, LLC
Education: Bachelor of Science in Marketing, Univ. of ILL-Chicago, 1984
Civic involvement: none
Elected offices held: none
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
The Park District is in the middle of deciding on renovation plans for the Mt. Prospect Golf Course. The golf course's irrigation system, which was installed in the early 1980's, desperately needs to be replaced. Additionally, water needs to be more efficiently drained from the course and more efficiently retained in the ponds and lakes on the course in order to feed the irrigation system. Because this involves digging up the course to make these repairs, the board must look at what is the best way to utilize the land when rebuilding the course. I think the plan does a very nice job of that. The new layout preserves most of the character of the front nine, and only affects about half the holes on the back. In addition, there are major improvements to the driving range. In this plan there would be a full service driving range. It would serve the needs of the regular players but also would be invaluable for the beginning golfers as well as the golf course teaching staff for lessons, and certainly the ever growing group of junior and high school players who represent our local schools. Also, both architects that presented plans agreed on one very important point: By undertaking this project at this time and doing a complete renovation, it would preserve the vitality of the course for another 30 - 50 years.
Key Issue 2
The park district needs to raise revenues but do so with out of the box thinking. Long term, I believe we need to make use of the lease we have on the land at the "cup site" at Elmhurst Rd. and the toll way. That acreage has exposure to hundreds of thousands of cars on a regular basis and probably more when the O'Hare corridor route is built. If we had a park owned facility on that land, used by those passersby, we could generate revenue which becomes part of our general revenue stream and is used to help hold down program fees for our residents and improve our facilities. I believe the Park District needs to look at these types of projects in the long term for the benefit of all our residents.
Key Issue 3
I have been approached by several residents and have attended board meetings where the topic of a dog park has been introduced. I know a dog park would benefit many of our residents. There have been very preliminary talks about a joint effort with the Arlington Heights Park Distric and I would like to be a part of the dog park becoming a reality.
What programs aren't paying for themselves? Would you keep, eliminate or change them? How and why?
I think the staff does a very nice job of evaluating the program offerings of the park district. There is a wide variety across all age groups. I would expect that to continue.
Is there any additional open space the park district needs to acquire? Please describe.
Unless the deal is simply too good to pass up (e.g. an inexpensive, long term lease) I believe a priority would be to develop or redevelop a property we already own.
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?
I believe we need to get back on a schedule to upgrade our neighborhood parks. Einstein is one of those parks that is a beautiful property that needs upgrading. The space at Gregory is another location that needs to be developed. These are both economy driven projects. I also think an outdoor pool located in front of the RecPlex along Dempster street, would be a great benefit to that neighborhood. It could possibly be a pool that at least breaks even for several years because of the size of the population in that area.
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?
Equipment costs are an ever escalating cost to the district. If there were opportunities to share the cost of new equipment as well as the maintainance of the existing equipment, those should be explored. Logical partners for that would be the village and the public works department.
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.
I have lived in Mt. Prospect for 51 years (I am 52 years old). Growing up, I worked on and off part time for the park district and have used just about every facility available. I have a business background. I owned two retail stores for over 16 years. I was involved daily with the workings of our business; negotiating leases, raising capital, making inventory buying decisions, payroll and hiring decisions, advertising and marketing decisions and servicing customers. While the Park District is run slightly different from a private business, it is essentially a $15 million dollar business that has to be treated as such. Like any business, costs need to be contained and revenues need to generated. Capital dollars need to be spent for upkeep and improvement of facilities ultimately for the benefit of its customers...the residents of our village. I think my business background is a strength that lends itself to overseeing this enterprise.
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