The Naperville Park District Board of Commissioners voted 4-3 to pursue legal action in response to the Restore Illinois order.
Park Board President Rich Janor read the motion as, “Motion to pursue legal relief related to Naperville Park District response to Restore Illinois order seeking authority through emergency court action allowing the duly-elected park board of commissioners to make decisions that are in the best interest of our community.”
President Janor was joined in voting in favor of legal action by Vice President Mike King, Commissioner Bill Egan, and Commissioner Josh McBroom.
Commissioners Mike Reilly, Marie Todd, and Bobby Carlsen voted against taking legal action.
Legal Action Discussed in Executive Session
Before discussing the item for more than an hour privately in executive session, the board voted to consider legal action against order. Six of the seven commissioners voted in favor of the item, which was added to the agenda Wednesday. Todd was the only dissenting vote, saying she didn’t see a point, as the park district plans to reopen programs and facilities in June anyway, when the current stay-at-home order expires.
Executive Director Ray McGury’s report earlier in the meeting listed several amenities that will reopen at various dates throughout June, such as athletic fields, disc golf, skate parks, and summer camps, albeit with major alterations to standard operation.
The park district expects to take that legal action next week, though a spokesperson said the outcome will not effect the reopening plan for the amenities McGury read off during the meeting.
Restore Illinois Encroaching on Freedom
Several commissioners in favor of exploring legal options said the stay-at-home order is encroaching on the freedom of Illinois residents. Egan said our community is informed of the risks and parents have the right to choose if they want their children to participate in organized sports and activities.
Many also stated that it was unfair for Naperville and DuPage County to be grouped with Chicago and Cook County in the Restore Illinois Plan, as those municipalities have the highest concentrations of COVID-19.
A spokesperson for the district said the legal action would require the use of taxpayer money.
Governor Pritzker’s Response
At his latest press conference, Governor JB Pritzker responded to the park district’s decision to pursue legal action.
“They should be following the data and science here and not their gut,” said Pritzker. “I too would like to allow all children, my own included to participate in summer sports in a group fashion. But I recommend against it and of course people have every right to go to the courts, but I wish they would show some leadership.”
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski and Aysha Ashley Househ report.
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