Jody E. Fagan: Candidate profile
Name: Jody E. Fagan
Office sought: Park District Commissioner
Family: Married to Sean for 16 years, Ironworker with Local 63. Mom of 3 active kids: Emily (12), Ryleigh (9) and James (7)
Occupation: Currently a Property Manager. 14 years in Senior Living Industry. Hospitality background- grew up in our family restaurant King James in West Chicago (currently Hawthorne's Backyard)
Education: Bachelor of Science in Marketing & Management from UIC. Minor in Sociology. Beta Gamma Sigma Honors Society.
Civic involvement: U46 Citizen's Advisory Council (2014-17). PTO President Independence Early Learning Center (2014-16). PTB Treasurer Bartlett Elementary School (2013). Weekly volunteer at Bartlett Elementary in my Son's 1st grade classroom. Volunteer Bartlett Park District Softball Coach for (2012-current).
Previous elected offices held: None
Incumbent: If yes, when were first elected? No
What are the most important issues facing your park district and how do you intend to address them?
When Sean and I chose Bartlett as the community in which to raise our children in 2010, the vibrancy of the Park District was a huge factor. We knew we made a great choice when we developed lasting friendships and watched our 3 kids grow into healthy and well rounded youngsters. Our family budget includes a line item for Park District activities and events.
I believe our Park District is very good but I know it can become Excellent. Throughout the years, I have seen families make the choice to have their Recreational sports needs met by either neighboring Park Districts or private organizations. I am a firm believer that residents of Bartlett should have no need to pursue programs outside of our Park District. We have solid resources and facilities right here and they should remain affordable and be well- maintained.
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.
My family and I are very active users of the Park District. We spend summers at the pool, go tubing at Villa Olivia and have participated in several special activities. Our family dog plays at Riley's Run Dog Park and we fish at Beaver Pond. We step foot on Park District property nearly every day.
I have been volunteer Park District softball coach for 7 years. It is one of my greatest joys to watch as kids develop character and confidence through youth sports.
At one point last year, I had an issue with the softball fields. I decided to get off the sidelines and take it to the Park District Board. I have been attending Board meetings ever since. I am ready to step up and serve the community as a new member of the Board.
Which programs aren't paying for themselves? Would you keep, eliminate or change them? How and why?
In order to keep all programs relevant and affordable for all, the Bartlett Park District must continuously evaluate programming.
Since acquiring Villa Olivia in 2010, there has been considerable investments made to renovate and improve the facility. It is time to see a return on these investments. My concern is that the significant losses at Villa Olivia are being covered by an increase in fees for traditional programs everyday families rely on. There is a great opportunity to get this property back on track and profitable.
One of the biggest frustrations I hear from community members is the frequent cancellation of programs at the last minute. Often times there are only a couple slots to fill and instead of reaching out to prospective enrollees to fill the class, the program is canceled. There needs to be thoughtful planning as far as times offered and relevancy of subject matter. Finally, effective marketing must be used to increase interest in the program.
Is there any additional open space the park district needs to acquire? Please describe.
The Bartlett Park District has done a great job acquiring park and open space throughout their boundaries. The focus should be to maximize use of current Park District Properties and continue the plan for capital improvements of neighborhood parks. These parks are where the kids and their families have a chance to forge friendships, get outdoors and off their electronics!
Villa Olivia is a beautiful and unique open space. Skiing and Golfing have the potential to be quite profitable but is operationally linked to weather. When the core activities are unable to operate, that open space is still costing the district money to upkeep with little return. Creative use of this space during inclement weather is essential. Opening up opportunities for outdoor events such as live music on the lawn can draw more revenue in food and beverage sales.
When the current properties are at their maximum potential, expansion should be reviewed. For example, I believe there is a good case to be made for an additional Dog Park to be located on the East side of Route 59 and closer to downtown. The dog registration fee currently in place could offset the costs to maintain the dog park.
Are there any unmet recreational needs? If yes, what are they and how would you propose paying for them?
I believe there are some gaps to be filled to serve our growing Senior population as well as those with special needs.
I have worked with the older adult population for years in Senior Living Relocation specifically. A big draw for Independent Living communities is the social and recreational opportunities. I believe that our Seniors who chose to age in place should have access to programs designed specifically for them. Their tax money goes to the Park District and they should feel they are seeing benefit from it as the younger families do. We should dig deep into the gaps here and serve the Senior population with quality and affordable programming.
The Bartlett Park District has a great partnership with the Northwest Special Recreation Association (NWSRA) to serve people with special needs. However, the Park District needs to expand offerings of programs designed for those with special needs. A program such as 'Buddy Soccer' would not add any additional costs to the Park District. Bartlett Little League (separate from the Park District) has a Challenger Division wherein house teams come out and play with a special needs Buddy. This is a great model for the Park District to consider.