DIXON – Shane Miller wants the Dixon Park Board to say prayer before each meeting.
The idea, however, was tabled Wednesday until the board gauges the liability involved.
Miller was inspired by a Sauk Valley Media column written by Emily Coleman on Sept. 26, noting that the Dixon City Council already says an invocation at their meetings.
“Why not us?” Miller asked. “I think people would like us to have divine guidance to make decisions. It’s not against the law unless we say a specific religion or deity.”
Board President Bill Ost said he is not necessarily against the idea but had a concern about the liability.
“Can someone that may be offended by this take us to court?” Ost asked.
The board’s attorney Bill Brozovich said all it takes is one individual to get offended and the board could be in a costly fight.
“I believe we would prevail, but note I said ‘I believe’ – someone in a black robe would have to say yes or no,” Brozovich said. “To prevail might be very costly.”
Executive Director Deb Carey advised the board to consult the Illinois Parks Association Risk Services before making a decision.
“They cover us for liability, we could talk with them prior to making a decision to see if they would cover those court costs,” Carey said.
Vice President Ron Pritchard said it was a shame a minority of people can influence what the majority wants.
“We shouldn’t let 10 to 15 percent divide us,” Pritchard said.
“All it takes is one,” Brozovich interjected.
Not only was the item to say prayer before meetings tabled, but the board also tabled its property tax levy and consideration of transferring ownership of the Memorial Pool to the city.
Carey said, if the board was asked, would it transfer ownership of the pool to the city?
“Let me make it clear,” Carey said. “The city did not say in any way shape or form that they’d do that.”
The board agreed a stipulation would have to be made that the property must remain a public pool site. Brozovich said a previous resolution with the city already may make that clear. The board will readdress the item at its Dec. 19 meeting.
In other items, the board reached an agreement with the Dober family to lease 700 hundredths of an acre of land considered park district property for $25 per year.
Pritchard also suggested the district buy a permanent canopy for the Haymarket Square Farmers Market. That item was tabled.