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Three new members enter DeKalb Park District board

DeKALB – Per Faivre, Keith Nyquist and Don Irving will join the DeKalb Park District board after winning the three open seats targeted by six candidates.

Faivre and Nyquist will join the board with six-year terms, while Irving defeated Mario Fontana, the only incumbent seeking re-election, for a two-year term. Faivre and Nyquist are replacing Board President Joan Berkes Hanson and David Mason, who did not seek re-election. 

The new members are expected to be sworn in by the May meeting and must be sworn in 60 days after the election. 

The new DeKalb Park District board could oversee a roughly $5 million renovation of Hopkins Pool funded by bond sales. The new design would fit about 600 people in the pool at one time, as compared with 750 people in the current pool.

Faivre, the highest vote-getter with 2,003 votes, said the proposal needs to be overhauled and alternative funding needs to be explored.

“What has been proposed right now really is not acceptable,” he said. “If we have to wait a year or two, that’s something we have to entertain.”      

A referendum that proposed higher property taxes to pay for a more expensive pool renovation was rejected by voters by a margin of 3-to-1 in 2010. Instead, the previous board proposed taking out a loan and paying it off over 20 years, with annual payments of $440,000 to $450,000 a year.

Irving, who also opposed the pool plan, said he was also concerned with the potential purchase of Kiwanis Park from DeKalb School District 428. Park district leaders pursued the purchase after a public outcry caused the school district to abandon plans last year to transfer the property to ShoDeen Construction as part of a larger land swap deal.    

“I don’t see why the school district can’t give that land to the park district,” Irving said. “They are the ones sitting on [$21 million] of grant money from the state.”

Irving’s new colleague Nyquist said he would support purchasing the land depending on the price. He said he would listen to all feedback on the issue and wanted to reward the voters’ confidence.

“It’s humbling to know the voters have faith in me,” Nyquist said. “Now I just want to pay that back.”

The new park board members encouraged residents to attend Thursday’s park board meeting at 7 p.m. at Hopkins Park Community Center, where trustees could decide to move forward with the pool proposal.

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