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Our View: Leadership team coming together at DeKalb Park District

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014 10:09 p.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014 11:06 p.m. CST

It appears that some needed stability is finally coming to the leadership at the DeKalb Park District. Next up will be for those leaders to plot the course forward on key issues, notably the future of the Hopkins Pool.

Since the April 2013 election, the DeKalb Park District has had three different executive directors and has seen almost a complete turnover in its Board of Commissioners.

The changes began when three new members – Per Faivre, Keith Nyquist and Don Irving – were elected to join the five-member board. Cindy Capek, then the district’s executive director, resigned not long afterward.

New board members decided to halt a plan for the district to borrow $6 million to reconstruct the 40-year-old Hopkins pool in its current location.

Irving later died and was replaced by Dean Holliday; board member Mike Teboda resigned for health reasons and was replaced by Irving’s brother, Bryant Irving, in April.

After a year with an interim director, the park board hired Jason Mangum as its new executive director. Mangum began in June and last week introduced Amy Doll as the district’s new superintendent of recreation and facilities, a newly created position.

One more hire, to fill the position of superintendent of parks and development, is expected in the future. The new hires join two longtime administrators.

At the time of his hire, Mangum said he wanted to devise plans for the future of Hopkins Pool and for Lions Park on Taylor Street east of Annie Glidden Road, where the district plans a $400,000 renovation to make it into a destination park.

Already there have been some signs that the park district is operating differently, including a recent plan to move playground equipment that was going largely unused in Pappas Park to Garden of Eden Park, and seeking public opinion on amenities that might work better for the largely young-adult population living near Pappas Park.

Now, residents no doubt would like to know what the district plans to do with one of its most popular amenities. The were presented with some options in June, ranging from a minimal renovation to a more extensive plan.

It’s time for the board and staff to choose an option and hear what the public has to say about it. Hopkins Pool clearly has value to the public – there were almost 40,000 visits in 2013. Park board members have said they want to keep the pool open.

There is a deadline, too: The district has until 2015 to come up with a plan to make the pool comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Compliance will require upgrades to the infrastructure, especially the locker rooms and entrances.

With some major gaps being filled in and all board members expected to remain in place until elections in spring 2015, we look forward to seeing a plan on the pool and other important issues soon.

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