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Three vie for two seats on Geneva Park Board

GENEVA – Three candidates are seeking two six-year terms on the Geneva Park Board in the April 9 consolidated election incumbent Peggy Condon and two newcomers, Jay Moffat and Matthew Gauntt.

Condon, 57, has served on the park board since 1999. Condon said education and training in landscape design and architecture and being a Kane County certified naturalist give her a broader understanding of the constraints of facility development.

Condon did not submit a photo to the Kane County Chronicle for publication.

While Condon has served on the board, the park district has been rated in the top 5 percent of districts in the state. She said she is most proud of the board’s fiscal resourcefulness, paired with grant funding, which helped bring the Butterfly House to Peck Farm Park and renovate the bridge at Island Park.

“I love being on the park board,” Condon said.

Gauntt, 47, a civil engineer, said he has served previously as a village trustee when he lived in Hanover Park and has a special affinity for recreation districts: His first real job was working at the city pool in his hometown of Junction City, Kan.

“I’ve coached in Geneva baseball for a number of years with my son, participated in programs, used facilities, my kids have been both in Geneva baseball and Geneva River Rats,” Gauntt said. “I felt it was something I could do to give back ... this was the only position I was truly interested in. I thought it was a way I could actually offer something.”

Moffat, 56, is best known for serving 22 years on the Geneva Plan Commission, preparing him to learn how to work with government regulations and within groups.

“I think the park district is one of our better-run taxing bodies,” Moffat said. “I think they have an exceptionally long track record of providing a high-quality service at a reasonable cost.”

Moffat also praised the park staff as “exceptionally qualified,” as well as the maintenance of facilities and replacement of equipment.

“Everything I look at … the budget seems intact, they have good ideas for debt [to] save us money by refunding the bonds,” Moffat said. “Everything I look at, I’m very impressed.”

One thing Moffat would change, however, is making the park board’s packet available online.

“I would say … once the staff puts the packet together, it should be made available to every member of the community who has the desire to look at it,” Moffat said.

A retired air traffic controller and banker, Moffat also is seeking a term on the Geneva Library Board.

In terms of the district’s tax levy, none of the candidates would freeze the levy request.

“It wouldn’t make sense,” Condon said. “If we do that, we won’t be keeping up with the growth needs of the community. … The community is still growing, [and] we’re just trying to conserve and reduce spending everywhere we can.”

Gauntt said a “freeze” in the levy makes for a nice sound-bite and is not always practical, but he would not support an increase for program expansion until the housing market rebounds.

Moffat said promising not to increase a levy request is “fundamentally naïve.” Instead, he recommended looking at increasing user fees if more revenue is needed.

One decision the board made that Condon disagreed with was allowing advertising or corporate sponsorship at various locations and in the brochure.

“We did not want to be advertising at the parks,” Condon said. “We are very careful in who we select, [but there is] much more now than there was five years ago. We are trying to find other sources of revenue in addition to what the residents pay to participate in the programs, because we want to keep that affordable, too.”

An area that Gauntt said he disagreed with was the extent of development at Peck Farm Park’s natural area because it already is served by the forest preserve.

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