The Carbondale City Council held a special meeting Thursday night to discuss exploring a merger between the city and the Park District. The main issues raised were the financial implications of combining the two, as well as how to to move the process forward.
Community members who attended the meeting expressed concern about what might happen to programming provided by the Park District if it became part of the city.
Carbondale resident Karen Martin stressed the importance of parks when attracting retirees to Carbondale.
"We have to have a park district, we have to have a pool, we have to have things that will support retirees continued active lifestyles," Martin said.
The concern about programs was echoed by two of the other speakers. The Life Center was mentioned as a specific area of concern with residents, while Mayor Mike Henry said it should be shut down.
Councilman Jeff Doherty said programing will be taken into account if the merger happens, and noted that he's worried about the current financial state of the Park District.
"What happens if we do nothing? What is the status quo?" Doherty said.
Council members also discussed issues regarding deferred maitenance on properties run by the Park District, as well as opportunities to increase tourism to the city with programming at local parks, like sports tournaments.
The council is seeking more information from the Park District and asking city staff to put together a more concrete proposal before re-visiting the issue.