Michael Murphy: Candidate profile
Name: Michael J. Murphy
Office sought: Park Commissioner
Family: Cyndi D'Amore-Murphy (wife), sons Kyle (8) and Colin (4)
Education: Associate of Arts, College of DuPage (magna cum laude 1995); Bachelor of Arts, DePaul University (magna cum laude 1997); Juris Doctor, IIT/Chicago-Kent College of Law (2000).
Civic involvement: Current Board member of the Cary Park Foundation
Previous elected offices held: None
Incumbent? If yes, when were you first elected? No.
What are the most important issues facing your park district and how do you intend to address them?
In my mind, the Park District must address several important issues in the near future. First, in order to continue implementing the 2016 Comprehensive Master Plan, we need to plan and develop a modern indoor sports and recreation facility and an outdoor aquatic center. The current Board has already commissioned a feasibility study; however, much work remains to be done before breaking ground on this major project. For example, the issue of how best to finance this undertaking has yet to be decided. As a Park Commissioner, I would make this project a top priority and do my best to include as many of the most desired features based on community feedback. Second, we need to review and consider how to increase retention rates and profitability with respect to Park District programming. Currently the percentage of refund requests by participants is excessive. I suspect that in large part that is due to the quality of the programs being offered. As a Park Commissioner, I intend to investigate and correct this, as well as address accountability concerns regarding key Park District personnel. Ultimately, we need to better serve the community by offering quality programming lead by qualified instructors at affordable pricing.
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.
In short, I truly believe in the integral role of the Park District in our community, and sincerely feel that volunteering as a Park Commissioner will allow me to serve Cary in a way which I find personally fulfilling. Since moving to Cary, IL in 2014, I have held a strong personal interest in serving the local community. As the father of two young boys, I am keenly aware of the important part that the Park District plays by offering cost effective, enriching programs which aim to serve the full demographic range of our citizenry. My children regularly participate in Park District programs including various sports, summer camps, and holiday themed special events. Also, we frequently spend family time visiting the numerous community parks and exploring the Park District's open spaces. In addition, I firmly believe in the need to provide for other sectors of the community such as our cherished senior residents.
Which programs aren't paying for themselves? Would you keep, eliminate or change them? How and why?
It is my understanding that a significant percentage of Park District programs are not profitable. This is due, in part, to excessive refund requests from participants, which I suspect this is the result of the quality of the programs and instruction being offered. The short answer is that a comprehensive review of the District's programming is in order. The residents of the communities served by the Park District deserve accountability, as well as quality programming lead by qualified instructors at affordable pricing. That said, I do not believe that simply because a particular program is not profitable that it must be eliminated. A prime example is the preschool program which regardless of profitability fulfills a definite need within the community.
Is there any additional open space the park district needs to acquire? Please describe.
In accordance with National Recreation and Parks Association bench marks, the Cary Park District currently maintains a surplus of open space based on population figures among the communities it serves. The more than 850 acres of open space are certainly a great asset to be enjoyed, and are also more than sufficient to account for future growth. Accordingly, I do not foresee a need to acquire additional open space in the near future. However, I would remain open-minded on this issue if it was determined that any future opportunities to acquire specific open spaces would ultimately benefit the community.
Are there any unmet recreational needs? If yes, what are they and how would you propose paying for them?
There absolutely are unmet recreational needs in our community. Most prevalent among them being an indoor sports and recreation facility, including an indoor lap pool and indoor turf field. Currently, our student athletes must travel to outside communities to practice certain sports. The Park District now has an incredible opportunity to design and develop a modern facility to not only serve those needs, but which also has the potential to become a gathering place and centerpiece of the community. As a Park Commissioner, I would endeavor to implement plans for a facility that incorporates the amenities which are most important to the community as a whole based on polls and other methods of feedback. Further, in my opinion, it is imperative to design this "community center" with the potential for future expansion, including an adjacent outdoor aquatic center on-site. Funding is a significant concern which must be done in a fiscally responsible manner. The Park District currently has some funds of its own available for this project, but nowhere near enough to go it alone. Accordingly, we must consider all options, including grant programs, participation from interested neighboring communities, as well as some private investment opportunities.