By RICK and SUE JEAN
For Rantoul Press
We are lifetime residents of Rantoul and wanted to share our thoughts on the park board and Brookhill Golf Course.
We are sad to say there are fewer and fewer reasons to live in Rantoul.
Taking our park district-owned course away from the control of the city will be one less reason and draw to live here. Progressive towns don’t decrease service to its citizens, it enhances them. Yes, there is a privatively owned golf course in the city; however, that could close at anytime, change rates without citizen or board input or could even change its status from "opened to the public" to "private" at the whim of the owner, and then the town would have no facility for it citizens.
The village says it doesn’t want to compete against the private sector, yet we have a fitness center that is run by the city while a private facility is open on the east side of town. The recreation department offers redundant services that schools and local club teams also offered.
Depending on the future for the park district, the following are scenarios, which include the city maintaining control of Brookhill Golf Course.
If the park board is dissolved, we will expect and vote for future village board members that support a course that is run by the city.
We know the current view is that the city feels that it shouldn’t be in the golf course business.
If that is the view, then we would question the village’s current job of running the swimming pool, fitness center, youth center, woodworking and recreation department.
To us, all are similar to running the course. They are all leisure/recreational activities and the village takes an active role in financially supporting and running of these facilities.
If the park board is not dissolved, the city should consider handing over all the recreational entities to the board.
They can then use the tax dollars allotted, as well as, the budgeted amount that the city currently allocates, to all the recreational and leisure activities.
The park board could work on an all-encompassing plan for our town rather than the fragmented "park" vs. "rec." The city just needs to get out of all the recreation services such as the pool, youth center and rec. department and have the park district run all the services.
We understand that our tax dollars are needed to support those entities as well as all the other services Rantoul provides.
We pay those taxes whether we use those facilities or services, but they are needed and desired by some members of our community.
Some services that are used by a small number of citizens and are subsidized covers everything from the pool to the library, fitness center, recreation center as well as the youth center.
We don’t have a breakdown of the actual money spent for each of those services since some of them are under the umbrella for the city.
There are no taxing districts that don’t subsidize. That is their purpose. If it didn’t, the argument could be made that every taxing district should be abolished.
We have not used the local schools, the police/fire department (thankfully) or the library.
We rarely have used the aquatic center. We have no use for the youth center, the wood shop, fitness center or the recreation department.
We use a very small percentage for the roads in Rantoul, but yet our tax dollars are used to support these as well as countless other services that we don’t require or use.
That’s what taxing districts do — provide services to towns and counties that enhance the lives of their citizens, to enrich the experiences and allow the opportunity for everyone to have the chance to explore options that they could not provide on their own.
We are part of this community, and we want everyone to feel that there is something in Rantoul for them to enrich their lives.
Only 2 percent of our property taxes go to the park board, 16 percent to the village/roads and 66 percent go to the two school districts. Although we feel the overall tax bill is high, we do not belittle the amounts because we hope it will help make our community a more desirable place to live.
There are great parks and a great golf course to be enjoyed for community members of all ages for an entire life.
The 2 percent spent on the park district is well worth it to enrich the lives of those in Rantoul.
Our family has had four generations utilize and play at Brookhill. We have enjoyed countless hours of fun and excitement. These are experiences that can never be replaced. We are also aware of several individuals that have used Brookhill and the opportunities that it provides for further their college education and experience.
We urge the park district to continue running Brookhill as it is presently run. If not we urge the continued operation of the facility under the direction of the village or some other community entity.
Rick and Sue Jean are residents of Rantoul.