July 20, 2008

The Burden Is On The Taxpayers - Again

The First Public information on the proposed change in direction for the taxpayer paid for community center at 1610 W Howard was made in a public CAPS meeting, June 12. That was one day after the City Council meeting where the $800K in Howard/Paulina TIF dollars was approved. That was one day after our alderman said "Why here?” and voted NO to the Childrens’ Museum moving into Grant Park.

A month later, some members of the PAC saw comparisons of basic park district programs scheduled to be offered versus the programs to be offered by the BGC. There were no handouts for visual comparisons just two pieces of paper held up by Tim Mitchell. Presumably, the park district feels it's no ones business during the negotiation process. Yet other entities have been privy to these comparisons, have attended meetings regarding the ‘you’ve got to match or surpass’ our cookie cutter initial programs. BGC: "Sure, no problem, here’s what we can do…"

A senior citizen who has lived in the neighborhood for years wrote the alderman expressing his concern about this sudden change of plans for a taxpayer paid for community center. In part the response from the alderman was:

“….the Boys and Girls Club need an independent funding source to supplement their expenses of operating in our neighborhood. While they have committed to raising some of the money needed to operate a full-time program, they cannot subsidize the entire cost. The Park District has committed to providing a substantial sum of money to the Boys and Girls Club to subsidize their cost of providing programming in our neighborhood.”

"In short, without the Park District's involvement, there will be no Boys and Girls Club in Rogers Park unless an independent funding source can be identified."

Uh, what about a fundraiser? Or what about grants? Uh what about the BGC sending out a request to its corporate sponsors in Illinois alone for that extra $100k? It's a tax write-off isn't it? BGC is not a small organization and is not financially strapped. If they are having financial difficulties in this economy then perhaps they shouldn't pay their top officers such exorbitant salaries and spend more on their mission - children. That salary pyramid is a mirror of corporate CEO salaries in comparison to the little people who make any organization move. At any rate, IF the entities involved really wanted the BGC in Rogers Park, in the larger facility of Gale Annex it could be done. Placing the club in the annex would be politically correct and would give the appropriate appearance of working with the existing social service agencies that have been providing youth activities for years. Read this excellent letter of reason.

The alderman also referred to the vocal neighbors (or council members?) as ‘elements in the community’ who are spreading misinformation about adult programming. So the burden of staffing and programming for a new NFP is put to the park district or the board of education to supplement. In other words, some of the burden of staffing and programming by the BGC is put to you, the taxpayers.

Again, one question regarding adult programming was partially answered after the July 10 meeting with Moore, Mitchell et al. I asked Ms. Janney of the BGC if, at my age, I decided to go to the facility after work and use the exercise machines would I get my own BGC card? I think she understood the humor of a woman having to present a card referring to her as a ‘girl’. Anyway, she smiled and told me, I would have to pay my dues and everyone has to sign in upon arrival. The next part of the answer tells a lot about adult programming. She stated I would have to come with my group.

Unless one of these entities wants to explain in detail how adult programming will be presented, I have only that brief conversation to run on. The answer appears that adults must be in groups and probably scheduled into the calendar. The scheduling is important to avoid conflicts or overlaps. However, I do find issue that an adult having paid the dues cannot just walk in, sign in, and step on a treadmill or use other machines. Or what about an adult who wants to join the teenagers and throw a few hoops?

Similar programming comparisons to the park district during school season would be to schedule adult activities during the day when school is in session and there is ample available open time.

Perhaps the BGC will offer adult programming – but what is the scope and the limit? For example, at Loyola Field house, can one pay the fee for a weaving class and walk in and learn when s/he gets the urge or the time? Or must there be X amount of people signed up before the program is offered and be at the very first class? Or yoga or adult boxing could be used as examples too.

And the exercise room….aren’t there restrictions to use on those machines by anyone under the age of 18? Aren’t there waivers to sign stating the user is aware of how to utilize the machines? And, isn’t there to be a knowledgeable trainer available to assist and observe users?

And the timing is key too. How many adults work during the day and can only utilize these proposed adult programs after 6 or 7 PM? From September until June while school is in session, there will be a certain amount of free time from morning until the after school programs would begin….just as any park district managed facility that taxpayers have already paid into.


MadeInRogersPark said...

This tyranical over takingof this community is a disgrace. ou probably don't remsthere back in my day. No you didn't ned a card. It was just there. A warming house for ice skaters. A place to play board games.....just was field house are for.mmmmmmmmmmm somethin tells me that someone got a big payoff to see this field house which has been promised to the community for years and years go to a private organizaton. I hope there are big big crowds of long protests so they leave.
What about the kids from
Where can they go play after school.

Toni said...

The kids could join the club for $20 a year PLUS extra fees would be applicable for special classes if there are additional instructors to reimburse. So it's not necessarily a flat $20.00.

What so many seem to be overlooking is the FACT that the local social service agencies are getting the stab in the back and most are sitting around too timid to speak up or else it hasn't dawned on them yet. They're dependent on aldermanic assistance.

So the new kid on the block gets the brand new building, the BCG and its board of directors run the show, and the taxpayers keep paying for a private entity.

Meanwhile, the much larger Gale Annex could house and work with provide for ALL the players in this game.

The promise is not so transparent.