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Hurtado: No More 'Business As Usual' at Plainfield Park District

The park board president addresses questions about the recently approved tax levy.

Send letters to the editor to shannon.antinori@patch.com. Credit: Patch file photo
Send letters to the editor to shannon.antinori@patch.com. Credit: Patch file photo

Dear Residents,

The Plainfield Park District Board has approved a new tax levy ordinance for the coming year.  Since that vote, some public statements have questioned the Board’s actions that I feel must be addressed.

When the new Board majority was installed this past May we made it clear that we would no longer accept “business as usual”.  In this specific instance, “business as usual” would have led us to pass an unnecessary increase of the tax levy to the maximum allowed by law regardless of our budget plans for the coming year.

During the public hearing for the tax levy, a former Park Board member spoke against our plans, saying, if I may paraphrase her comments, that the Board was walking away from a potential source of revenue that might be needed down the road – in effect that we should levy higher taxes because we could, not because the money was actually needed. The new Board majority rejects that way of thinking and believe our hard-working taxpayers would agree wholeheartedly.

Your new Plainfield Park District Board majority will no longer spend your tax dollars simply because we can.  We will abide by our pledge and commitment to provide the best park system and programs possible, knowing as well that we are stewards of the tax dollars of our residents.  Through program reviews and adjustments, we will reduce spending whenever possible and make sure we get the most out of each and every dollar with which we are entrusted.  As a resident and a tax payer, I would expect no less from my elected officials.  As one of those elected to serve my neighbors, I hold myself to that same high standard.

Sincerely,

Peter Hurtado

President

Plainfield Park District Board

Vicky Polito December 05, 2013 at 03:22 PM
Just to toss out, BNB--I know just a bit about the splash-pad (and, if you want to know about water costs, volume, etc., you can ask the folks at the village. They are a very transparent crowd over there and are always ready and willing to answer citizen queries, etc. You usually don't even need a formal FOIA, can just stop by and if it's a fast query, they'll hand it to you in a few minutes). 1. The pad does NOT use a recycling system, but aside from costs of fitting one onto it, doing the recycling sort of puts you almost in the swimming pool sort of day to day operations because there are daily tests that have to be run to see if the filtration is working, etc., and those add cost, too. However, I think that there is some capture and use of the water that runs off for a small rain garden area? Someone else might be able to confirm that part. 2. The PPD has an inter-governmental agreement wherein they only pay for the water used, they do not pay the sewage/waste water disposal costs. 3. I looked recently at the water bill for the splash pad since it opened in mid-August of 2011 through this past October, and it's really not so awful considering how used it is and how people LOVE it. (The place is packed on a hot afternoon and everyone looks very happy, has a good time.) Basically, last year, 2012 was very hot and it was therefore the most used it's been so far. The water bill paid by PPD for that 2012 whole year was roughly $22,500. This year has been less, but I haven't added that one up (I think though that since opening, it's cost less than $50K in water bills? I'd have to double check but I can't right now.) 4. The splash pad is modern and smartly enough designed that it is a push-button/on-demand use system. If no one is there using it or pushing the button for the (I think) 20 minutes run of water, the water does not run at all. So, it's not continuously running is what I mean. Just a few notes I hope help.
Bad News Bears December 05, 2013 at 04:19 PM
Recycling water does not seem like a good idea just from a sanitary stand, I agree. But always before there were set hours on when the splash pad could be used. I rented the Village Green pavilion once and remember discussing this. I do not want to shut it down or change it, but I saw the kids playing there at times when before it was usually shut off. The new administration was complaining about the water bill, but the hours changed under the new administration. I was simply wondering out loud if maybe this was another hypocrisy. Personally, I think the splash pad is a great free resource for the residents
Vicky Polito December 05, 2013 at 04:55 PM
Ah, I see what you mean, BNB--I thought too that there were set hours like, oh, noon to 5p or something, when it was usable. I don't know for sure about the hours, I guess. Maybe weather and available daylight impacts flexing the hours? And, I did check and they definitely designed it to let runoff go to a raingarden, etc., and then slowly and naturally percolate through the ground. Honestly, from some stats I've seen, the pool is far more wasteful of water. That's a big ticket item, which I guess is why you pay an entry fee/membership to use it. I do know that people across the community love the splash pad. Coincidentally, I have been seeing ads for companies that install splash pads in residential yards, instead of swimming pools and they can double as nice patio space in the off season, etc. Brilliant, right?!
Vicky Polito December 05, 2013 at 05:04 PM
You know what else, if the district is thinking about shutting this splash pad down, one problem they're going to face (or, rather, taxpayers will face) is that the state gave the district a decent sized grant for the project and if the district shuts it down, the state is going to come around and ask for that money right back! So, if this thing is bringing joy to taxpaying residents as part of fulfilling the district mission statement and it only costs about 25K a year, it's going to be more money to get rid of it than to keep it!
MadamPomp December 05, 2013 at 06:05 PM
I am a educated, hard-working, tax-paying, single, conservative mother, and I distrust Mr. Hurtado, simply because his rhetoric is inconsistent with his actions. Mr. Hurtado states "Your new Plainfield Park District Board majority will no longer spend your tax dollars simply because we can." However, didn't they spend on a salary for Mr. Peck and Mr. Booth, simply because they can? Perhaps I missed the article wherein Mr. Peck was given an award for his accomplishments in Parks & Recreation. Wasn't he playing "tic tac toe" simply because he's already elected, and therefore he can? It's clear to me that Mr. Hurtado will always vote the way he pleases, regardless of logic or public opinion, "simply because he can". Mr. Hurtado also states "As one of those elected to serve my neighbors". Don't kid yourself Mr. Hurtado, "Elected" is just a technical term. The reality is that you are in your position because we became a community that didn't vote and didn't question and didn't attend meetings because we had so many years with a board and staff that had earned our trust.
Hugo December 06, 2013 at 07:53 AM
The tic-tac-toe thing is getting ridiculous. Where is there any evidence of that besides one shrill resident speculating: "I don't know what you're doing over there, playing tic-tac-toe or what...?" He could have been taking notes for all anyone knows. He probably was.
Jimmy Parks December 06, 2013 at 08:05 AM
Really Hugo? You now want to play a game of smoke and mirrors? Watch the full video that is on YouTube. Pay close attention to Hurtado and Peck during public comment. Look to you like they are paying attention? Does not even look like they care. Is that is how you want to be represented? Is that how you want to be treated? If you do the research, you can find that there is some strong evidence as to what they were doing. If it makes you feel better, ask them. They will lie and tell you no they were taking notes and smiling at one another. They have perfected dishonesty. My true concerns are what they are doing to our park district.
Vicky Polito December 06, 2013 at 08:19 AM
I really think that if you watch even just the snippet of the action and behavior (quick look via instagram at http://instagram.com/p/hd-lm2A__j/#) you can tell they're playing tic-tac-toe. But, beyond that, a couple of the teens who were there for a (in the end astounding) civics lesson told their parents, who are telling people all around them, that when they went up to get their attendance forms signed, they saw the evidence of the game on the conference table. And, even those kids, spontaneously and without prompting, were talking in the audience about "look, they're playing tic-tac-toe!". I hear a few of the teens didn't right their reports for the event on "process" at all, but instead focused on "first amendment rights" and the rights of the people to address their government! Even the young people told their moms and dads that they could not believe how rude and immature supposed men were! And, the kids all spread this news, too. I hope they didn't think that this is okay, that this is just what citizens have to accept. I don't think they did and I don't think most parents or adults in their world, teachers, etc., would let that sort of acceptance stand.
Frank G December 06, 2013 at 09:01 AM
lol Hugo, that's great. I'm assuming you never watched the video? the only way they could have been "taking notes" is if Hurtado and Peck were taking turns writing one letter at a time on the same sheet of paper.
Vicky Polito December 06, 2013 at 09:30 AM
Oh, Frank, good grief, I got so used to it being obvious I didn't think about that bit that shows it's obvious! Yes, if your notes consist of alternating single characters on a sheet of paper, then you might not be taking notes (or, as someone pointed out, meeting MINUTES, Mr. Secretary Peck!). I have to say, my favorite bit is when Hurtado smiles because he's apparently won and Peck makes the "oh, drat, out-witted AGAIN!" face! Hilarious AND sad at the same time!
YeaBigGuy December 06, 2013 at 10:02 AM
My opinion, after reading the article, watching the video, and keeping up with past events is that Hurtado has been successful at not operating as "business as usual." Hiring two friends with enormous salaries (without qualifications), demoting and firing qualified folks, snakes at the office, bears tickets from Toro dealers, tic-tac-toe, disregard to open meetings act, etc. Definately not "business as usual." Congrats Pete!
Hugo December 06, 2013 at 10:13 AM
I saw the video. But what I'm hearing is that nobody actually saw the content of what was written. The simplest explanation is that they were exchanging quick notes regarding who was going to call the police or whatever. Someone took the concept of a dismissive game and went with it. It's become a meme.
Frank G December 06, 2013 at 10:37 AM
really hugo? first, the high school kids saw the tic-tac-toe board. Second, they were each writing ONE LETTER AT A TIME...do you really think that's an effective way to write notes to each other? Lastly, are you suggesting they planned on calling police to eject Ms. Polito BEFORE she even said anything? That's even worse than playing tic-tac-toe.
Hugo December 06, 2013 at 10:45 AM
I'm not making any positive claims about what was done. I'm questioning the evidence of what is supposed to be "obvious".
Frank G December 06, 2013 at 11:25 AM
Hugo, you aren't merely questioning the evidence of them playing games, you seem to be dismissing the possibility. They were writing alternating single digits on paper in a manner consistent with tic-tac-toe, and your "simplest explanation" is that those single digits spelled out "do you want to call the police right now for no reason, or should I?".
Vicky Polito December 06, 2013 at 11:29 AM
At least two attendees told others they saw the concrete evidence, i.e., the board packet pages in front of the men with the tic-tac-toe games in the white space/margins. I don't think these people lied. While I stand by saying that it's pretty obvious even from what I saw, I don't think anyone can refute reports from audience members that they saw the physical markings on the paper. And I hear nothing but the sound of crickets coming from either Peck or Hurtado or anyone else explaining it otherwise, claiming anything at all let alone anything "else". Why would that be?
MadamPomp December 06, 2013 at 11:32 AM
I'd like Mr. Tic-tac, or Mr. Hangman to present some comparable data of surrounding Park Districts rates and increases. The real story is that we've been getting good deal here.
Hugo December 06, 2013 at 12:05 PM
Fine. They were playing tic-tac-toe. I'm starting to feel like doing the same with these novels you write. Good God.
MadamPomp December 06, 2013 at 12:14 PM
Hugo, the tomfoolery was obvious. What is ridiculous is that Mr. Tictac & Co. think they are going to fight Obamacare by highjacking the Plainfield Park District.
MadamPomp December 06, 2013 at 12:20 PM
It's proven that women use 13,0000 more words a day then men. Get over it.
Dan B December 06, 2013 at 12:49 PM
Dear Madam, I do not believe that Hugo can comprehend that statement unless you say it in tic-tac-toe format.
camaro1 December 06, 2013 at 01:56 PM
Supposedly when they went out for their health care they hired another friend as the broker and did not do any biding with other brokers. The board majority really needs to grow up! They can really throw others under the bus with their comments but when someone questions them it is whole different story including their spending money like it is growing on the park trees. If so were can I get a tree? I hold two Masters Degrees and I don't make $110,000 a year so Garret making that kind of money is ridiculous for a totally unqualified individual. And Hugo, the previous board majority was professional, respected each other and worked as a group for the good of the park district. The new board majority appears to be dysfunctional, shows no respect towards the other 2 board members or the public and seem to be serving their own interests.
Hugo December 06, 2013 at 02:02 PM
The Park District desperately needed an antagonist. Hurtado as a person is not terribly important. What's important is the fact that he is committed to turning this organization into a lean and muscular entity. I.e. the "free" land at Caton farm and Drauden. No such thing. Europe has castles for sale which cost a $1.00. Of course, the maintenance..... Vision and not being preoccupied with making friends is exactly what his organization needs.
Hugo December 06, 2013 at 02:03 PM
Let's face it...shrill diatribes can be boring. Tic-tac-toe may have been the best coping mechanism available at the time.
MadamPomp December 06, 2013 at 02:36 PM
antagonist? He's the main character, or the protagonist. If he is bored, then he should resign.
Frank G December 06, 2013 at 02:39 PM
Hurtado has increased spending. the only thing he is committed to making "lean" is the contingency fund.
Jimmy Parks December 06, 2013 at 04:43 PM
We can all agree that Hugo is a boob. I believe he is commenting to try and flame everyone up. It's clear that he-she provides no real benefit to the discussion. Back to your game Hugo!
Hugo December 09, 2013 at 07:51 AM
The main hitherto player is the "civilized" and agreeable ways of the old ways of doing things. Passing motions to be nice and not conflict too severely with anyone.
Hugo December 09, 2013 at 07:52 AM
You should have seen them kowtow to Wilson back in the day. It was a joke.
Frank G December 09, 2013 at 09:27 AM
Well you should be happy then, no one will ever accuse Hurtado & Co of being civilized. Or smart for that matter.

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