The Chicago Park District has the potential of being a great organization, promoting cultural, educational, and recreational programs and ideals. However, I’m sorry to announce that the park district has awfully and shamefully failed the citizens of Chicago who pay taxes to keep the parks up and running.
Mayor Richard M. Daley appointed Timothy J. Mitchell general superintendent and CEO. I can personally attest that the mayor’s choice was a good one. Mr. Mitchell is a wonderful and hardworking superintendent and CEO, who truly has an open door policy like none other in the city of Chicago. I must also give credit to James Chronis, chief operating officer of the park district. Mr. Chronis takes time out of his busy schedule to meet with community groups, such as the Westside Executive Advisory Council.
The war, however, is lost when regional and area managers within the Chicago Park District fail to connect the board room agenda with the parks, residents, supervisors and staff. An example is Titon Park, 305 N. Kostner Ave. on the West Side, which received $250,000 from the state. Residents of the area were under the impression that the park district was going to build a new structure in the community.
Nevertheless, the regional manager decided to disburse the money among other parks with no information provided as to what parks received funds. The residents of the 28th Ward fought for 15 long years for a new park. Their hopes were totally destroyed without proper explanation and proof of monetary dispersal amongst other parks.
Regional area managers are completely out of touch as it relates to the parks, residents, supervisors and staff. The negative, narcissistic attitudes of these managers thrive off nepotism and patronage, and they treat lower level park district staff like “field slaves” with no voice or comment. Park managers oversee their areas through fear tactics and intimidation.
It’s no mystery that West Side and South Side parks receive less compared to their counterpart North Side and Lakefront parks. But then again, who cares? Who cares about parks in poverty-ridden areas that do not receive a fair stake from the rich park district budget?
Who cares about poor black, white and brown low-income residents who use the city’s parks? Why care when, according to their zip codes, they have the highest rates of everything that is criminal and negative?
Is this the mindset of the park district’s regional and area managers?
Allen is pastor of New Kingdom Church in Maywood.