DIXON – Each of the candidates vying for a seat on the Dixon Park District understands he will have to work with a tight budget.
The Dixon Park District is funded strictly with money collected from property taxes.
Three candidates – current President William Ost, incumbent Shane Miller and Richard Koenig – are running for two 4-year seats on the Dixon Park Board, while another hopeful, Brett Schmall, is running unopposed for a 2-year seat.
“We are land rich and money poor,” Miller said. “We have a lot to maintain and not enough to maintain it, because of the tax caps we face. Fortunately, we make enough money to get by.”
“In other words, we have to do more with less,” Ost said.
With the funds available, Ost said, he would work to improve some of the buildings and roads within the city’s parks.
Agreeing with Ost, Miller added other project goals: completing an extreme mountain bike trail, boat docks for kayakers, improvements to the dog park, and more baseball diamonds.
“A sports complex would be fantastic in the future, especially with Memorial Pool deteriorating,” Miller said. “The pool is way too expensive for us to handle. A sports complex could be done with a partnership with the school district, the YMCA or other entities.”
Koenig is not ready to give up on the pool. He advocates selling Memorial Pool to the city, if the city would refurbish it, but he says Dixon youths need more summer activities, so he would like to see something done with it.
Also, Koenig wants to see more summer programs in parks for younger children, either at John Dixon or EC Smith Park, and better cooperation between the park district and its programs, such as Al Morrison Baseball.
As for his vision, Koenig says he sees a park district that serves the people of Dixon.
“I’m willing to sit down and talk with any citizen about any concern they might have about the parks and bring that voice back to the board,” Koenig said.
Miller said his vision is to maximize the recreational opportunities in the community with the limited resources available. He said recreation can be a draw for people to live in Dixon.
“We’re doing a good job, but we could always get better,” Miller said.
Ost called the park district’s mission a balancing act.
“It’s difficult for us to meet all the needs that the community would like,” Ost said. “We try to work with other organizations like the YMCA to help us with that, and they do an excellent job.
“But it’s a balance of taking care of sports, also taking care of parks’ historic nature, and Lowell Park and Page Park areas.”
Sauk Valley Media was unable to contact Schmall for comments.
Meet the candidates
Three candidates are vying for two 4-year vacancies on the Dixon Park District board.
Name: William Ost
Family: Wife, two daughters, one son
Education: Bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Bradley
Occupation: Retired from Illinois Department of Transportation
Government experience: 14 years on Dixon Park District board
Name: Richard Koenig
Family: Wife, Mary Ann, two sons
Education: Graduated high school in Fond du Lac, Wis.; attended a year at Whitewater State (now University of Wisconsin at Whitewater)
Occupation: Retired after 27 years at Northwestern Steel and Wire
Government experience: None
Name: Shane Miller
Family: Wife, Pam; daughters, Valerie and Holli; son, Derek
Education: Bachelor's degree in nutrition and dietetics from Northern Illinois University
Occupation: Sheriff's deputy
Government experience: Interim board member of park district for a year
One candidate is unopposed for a 2-year term on the Dixon Park District Board.
Name: Brett Schmall