Unlike those who live in the Tri-Cities, Elburn residents do not have the luxury of thumbing through thick publications listing hundreds of recreation opportunities in their own town.
The village does not have a park district. Those who want to participate in park district activities must travel to another town and pay the higher out-of-district fees. There is no public swimming pool in Elburn. Residents can participate in activities offered by businesses or local organizations, but choices aren’t as extensive as they are in a city such as Batavia.
Soon, village residents might be able to have access to Batavia Park District programs at resident fees. Elburn officials are considering an arrangement in which village residents may purchase household memberships with the Batavia Park District. Among the offerings would be access to the swimming area at Quarry Beach in Batavia.
It’s not free. Elburn residents would pay $320 a household for a membership in the first year, which is about what the average Batavia household pays in taxes, according to the proposal. But having a park district isn’t free, and this is a way for Elburn residents to benefit from such a service without affecting those who don’t have interest.
It’s an innovative and fresh approach, and it’s one we support. Elburn residents can determine whether the $320 would provide access to enough programs to make it worth the investment. It’s not as good as having the services in their own town, but it’s a start. Village officials will continue to discuss the issue at the next board meeting on Aug. 3.
The most significant question Elburn trustees had was about the $2,500 fee that the village would pay a year for the two-year trial. Park district officials said the fee is necessary to pay for costs associated with the proposal, including the printing and mailing of more park district catalogues and additional administrative expenses, among other costs.
Some Elburn trustees were reluctant to commit to the $2,500 unless they knew residents were interested. Village President Dave Anderson dismissed such concerns and said the $2,500 would be “a drop in the bucket,” and it’s true that the cost is a lot less than the price of the village launching its own park district.
But taxpayer money never is a drop in the bucket. What the proposal could be is an appropriate use of taxpayer funds. Considering the benefits the plan would offer, that appears to be the case.