Donna Bisesi: Candidate profile
Name: Donna Bisesi
City: Rolling Meadows
Office sought: Park District Commissioner
Family: Married to Jon for 30 years with two sons; Joey and Dominick
Occupation: Full time Mom, Part time office worker
Education: Bachelor's Degree
Civic involvement: Woodfield Area Children's Organization volunteer, Trinity Lutheran Church volunteer, IL JCI Senator, former PTSA committee member at Carl Sandburg Jr. High, former PTA board member and committee chair at Willow Bend School, former PTA member and volunteer with ECDEC, former DTMOTC board member, former RM Jaycee President and board member, former North Region Jaycee board member.
Previous elected offices held: Park District Commissioner
Incumbent? If yes, when were you first elected? 2011
Facebook: Donna Bisesi RM Park Commissioner
What are the most important issues facing your park district and how do you intend to address them?
One of the important issues facing our parks specifically is vandalism. I will never understand why people want to destroy our beautiful parks and equipment, but it does happen. As a board, we authorized funds to the police department to help buy equipment for an ATV to assist with additional patrols along our paths and through our parks. Additionally, I have asked for strategic placement of cameras throughout our parks to detour crime and catch the vandals. Another important issue is the need for an additional recreation facility. There are several park districts who have built multi-use facilities that are used for tournaments and events that draw in people from neighboring towns to engage in unique recreation activities. Our residents could drive 30 to 40 minutes in almost any direction from Rolling Meadows and come upon one of these facilities. Which means, if we were to build one, we could potentially grow our programming, increase our usable space and draw people from neighboring communities to our town for tournaments and events. If we build it, they will come and they will eat and shop and spend time and money in our town.
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.
During my first term, I encouraged the board to accelerate the planned renovation of Waverly Park, due to its extreme state of disrepair. I also successfully pushed for a circular walking path at Waverly, based on resident's urgings, which was not in the original plan. Additionally, I initiated a free weekly athletic program at the local grade schools to encourage fitness and bring recreation activities to children who may not have opportunities to participate otherwise. I discovered a grant to fund this program initially, which we were awarded, and it ran successfully for several years. Sadly, I was informed that this program ended due to lack of active participation. Regarding the pool, the longer hours of operation and extended swim season were due in large part to my persistence; I felt we needed to provide greater value to our pool pass holders. Lastly, I believe that I played a pivotal role in the recent independent study which sought input from residents about the direction they want to see us take. I have tirelessly brought forth recommendations from residents, including the need for an additional recreation facility. The study results should reveal the broader community perspective to clarify our direction.
Which programs aren't paying for themselves? Would you keep, eliminate or change them? How and why?
Swimming pools rarely pay for themselves and ours is no exception. Whether we were staffing the pool or working with JEM for staffing, the pool lost money. The advantage we have with JEM is that our hours of operation have expanded and our season is longer because they have the ability to fill lifeguard spots with experienced guards from other pools, whereas prior to JEM, staffing was limited to hours when students were out of school. Despite the fact that owning and operating a swimming pool is a revenue drain, I still believe that it is an essential part of the community and should be maintained. Our dance program is in the process of being redeveloped, which I hope will make it more profitable and increase the number of classes offered for learning the fundamentals. I personally think that our gymnastics program is good, but it could be exceptional. We don't lose money on it currently, but it could expand and provide advanced training and unique programming. I also feel that there are growth opportunities through the gymnastic program that would provide training in popular activities such as parkour, American Ninja Warrior, and competitive cheerleading and tumbling.
Is there any additional open space the park district needs to acquire? Please describe.
Based on the results of the community surveys and focus groups, if the residents would like to move forward with a multi-use facility, then obviously we would need to purchase space to build one. We also need space to store our vehicles and park maintenance equipment. If we don't end up building a multi-use facility that could accommodate room to store this equipment, then we should look into an alternative storage building that is centrally located.
Are there any unmet recreational needs? If yes, what are they and how would you propose paying for them?
Since my first election in 2011, I have been discussing the need for additional recreation space. Repeatedly during my tenure, I would hear from residents who championed this issue. This past year we took steps to explore the need through a series of focus groups and a community survey. The official results will be revealed next month. I am anxious to see if there is a consensus, so the board can decide how to move forward and discuss funding options. Additionally, I believe that our park district should focus more attention on programming for teenagers. There are very few opportunities for residents between the ages of 14 to 18. The feedback received, when this topic was addressed, was that it is challenging to work with this age group. Teenagers in camp were being disrespectful to the councilors, who were often just a few years older than them. Also, we were told that there is a low enrollment for this age group due to conflicting schedules. The solution, in my opinion, isn't to abandon this age group, rather it is to find programming that would engage teens and hire mature staff who have experience working with this age group.