Letter: Gambling not needed at Sycamore Park District

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Board of Commissioners of the Sycamore Park District, I would like to clarify the position of the District as it relates to your recent article and editorial on video gambling.

I have been approached by many people about recent attention the Chronicle has given to this matter and expressing concern that we would even consider it. In some cases people assumed from your article that the park district had committed to video gambling.

The park district appreciates the Chronicle bringing this matter up, and empathize with the Chronicle’s perspective that local units of government must seek creative ways to generate revenue. There is also a responsibility to all our customers to ensure we do not create an environment that would discourage broader use of the facilities and parks that we provide.

Furthermore, there are more basic management practices that can address any concern there might be for how we operate the golf course. Additionally, the city of Sycamore Video Gambling Ordinance does not currently permit parks to have video gambling.

Ted Strack, the Sycamore Park District Board president, was actually represented in your article as saying [he] doesn’t feel video gambling and the park district should mix. The rest of the board of commissioners agree.

We have chosen to generate new revenue through traditional means: marketing and communication, providing top-notch customer service, and maintaining what the Daily Chronicle awarded, last year, as DeKalb County’s Finest Golf Course.

This approach brought in over 1,500 new golfers from outside Sycamore. That helps our revenue, but these folks buy gasoline, go to drive-ins for a snack, or downtown to a restaurant or shop, bringing more revenue to this community as a whole.

We have chosen to find alternatives to video gambling: Reducing full and part-time positions, more efficient scheduling, reducing liability insurance costs, and instituting key sales methods, we have reduced costs by over $150,000 a year.

We are proud that as a result, last year’s golf year was our best in eight years, and operations were in the black. Our trend is upward, and we continue to operate a quality course without the need to introduce video gambling that some would find a deterrent to coming to our course.

On behalf of the Board of Commissioners: Ted Strack, Michelle Schulz, Ann Tucker, Daryl Graves, Bill Kroeger.

Daniel Gibble

Executive Director

Sycamore Park District