Philip Stanko: Candidate profile
Name: Phil Stanko
Office sought: Cary Park Commissioner
Occupation: Retired High School Science Department Chair and Science Teacher
Education: BS -- Biology; MS Biology; MA -- Environmental Sciences/Studies
Civic involvement: Cary-Grove Rotary, Cary-Grove Food Pantry.
Previous elected offices held: Cary Park District Commissioner
Incumbent? If yes, when were you first elected? Yes, 1987.
What are the most important issues facing your park district and how do you intend to address them?
Meeting the challenges of the growing needs of our district, replacing aging facilities, and sustaining our commitment to fiscally responsible budgeting. Looking at our comprehensive master plan in order to: prioritize items on the list so we can keep moving forward with addressing the growing needs while at the same time not spending money we do not have; study the costs associated with various facility replacements and evaluating our debt service to time projects to happen as monies become available to pay for those projects; being responsible to tax payers by avoiding the budgeting of projects that go beyond the fiscal resources we have available to pay for them.
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.
Proposed the policy and organized the plan to develop neighborhood parks with playgrounds in them for easy access throughout the park district; created the first park district trail plan and pushed for the building and expansion of our trails through the application for grant monies that were available to help pay for them; rewrote sections of the Village of Cary Subdivision Control Ordinance submitted by the park district and approved by the village that required developers to provide land to the park district that was for the sole purpose of recreational open space and included language to allow us to accept land dedicated to stormwater as additional open space; advocated and supported the acquisition of a number of park properties like Sands-Main Street, Hoffman, and Cary-Grove parks to provide open space for both active and passive recreation.
Which programs aren't paying for themselves? Would you keep, eliminate or change them? How and why?
As a general rule, programs are provided because they serve the public and the general good. Whether the program pays for itself or not is not the only or overriding factor used to determine if it should be kept or eliminated. For example, the swimming pool rarely has a season where it pays for its operation, but this facility offers many important programs and recreational opportunities for the community. We may eliminate or change offerings we provide at the pool in order to keep it as profitable as possible. In addition to cost factors, how well attended programs are, whether we can fit it into the schedule with other programs, and how important a need it satisfies for the community are considerations for keeping or changing a program. We change swimming lesson programming from time to time, but I would not advocate eliminating swim lessons because they were not profitable.
Are you currently employed by or retired from a school district, if so, which one? Is any member of your direct family -- spouse, child or child-in-law -- employed by the school district where you are seeking a school board seat?
No answer given.
Is there any additional open space the park district needs to acquire? Please describe.
Most people may not realize that open space saves them money because it costs less in tax dollar provided services. While open space is beneficial because it reduces the impacts of growth, acquisition now would attempt to achieve some specific goal. For example, a piece of land to create a linear park that permits a trail extension and/or connection, or an open space parcel that connects or expands an existing space, or possibly a small parcel or lot that provides a place to add a neighborhood playground. This has happened in the past and could happen in the future.
Are there any unmet recreational needs? If yes, what are they and how would you propose paying for them?
The Cary area has an aging population with many residents choosing to stay in their homes. One area that needs to expand is for active seniors. Our present facilities for seniors with its multiple floors and stairs, limited handicapped accessibility and limited parking is not the best suited for this purpose. Expanding programs and facilities for seniors is one area. A second area would be for young singles or just singles in general. Cary has very little to offer young adults to encourage them to come back and live in Cary. There is not much of a need for programs until we provide living space and jobs for this group. Then, sports leagues and other types of recreational programs and opportunities could be provided. A third area would be for teen programming that falls outside of traditional programs provided by schools and outside athletic organizations. Disc golf is one example. Having a teen center that provides and safe place for teens to meet might be another option. Other than the cost of a facility, the other traditional costs would be met through fees and tax supported as other programs.