Results of a Lemont Park District survey conducted in 2013 indicate a lack of public support for the expansion of playing fields in the town. By a wide margin respondents said that more playing fields were a lower priority or completely unnecessary. These results fly in the face of efforts by Mayor Brian Reaves and the Lemont Village Board to burden taxpayers with nearly forty million dollars of debt. The massive borrowing would underwrite a scheme to construct a rental sports complex on polluted property leased from the owner, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. The poll findings stand in stark contrast to recent statements by Lemont Mayor Brian Reaves in which he has stated that he has detected a need for such a sports facility in Lemont.
The survey, conducted by the highly respected opinion research organization, the Solutions Resource Center at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, found that the overwhelming majority of Lemont residents are satisfied with the existing inventory of playing fields. Of all athletic playing field categories, only multi-purpose fields received a modicum of support with 33% of respondents calling this a higher priority. More baseball fields were believed not to be needed or a lower priority by 82% of respondents. The lack of priority support for soccer fields was 83%, followed by football fields at 89%. The need for more lacrosse fields was seen as a higher priority by only 8% of those polled.
The greatest support for any category was for expanding walking and biking trails and paths, with 70% of respondents designating those improvements as a higher priority.
Additionally, the poll points out that, “a large majority (72%) of respondents are in favor of renting Lemont Fields to outside groups (fee-based)”. Rental to outside groups is already an accepted practice according to the Lemont Park District website, with fees in the $40 to $50 per hour range. Any new outdoor fields at the village’s proposed sports complex would be in direct government verses government competition with existing park district fields that are available for rent. Below is the web address for park district field rental information:
A copy of the survey first released in April, 2013, was provided by the Lemont Park District and was used in the preparation of this article. Below is a link to the survey:
Data was collected via community focus groups and direct mail survey research. A total of 901 number completed surveys were received and a total of 799 surveys were considered in the statistical representation of data. The response rate for the statistical representation of data was 20% of the identified sample. The overall confidence interval and error margin for the survey are: 95% +/- 3.
Jim Ladas, reporting for Let Us Vote Lemont