Candidate Name: Alison Thompson
Office Seeking: Park District Board of Commissioners
Campaign Website: Under construction
Subdivision/Neighborhood: Hunters Woods
Closest Park: Hunters Woods Park
Occupation and/or Professional Training: Former manager at Bella Baby Photography (laid off due to Covid-19), small business owner
How long in years have you been a Naperville resident? 3, but I grew up in Naperville.
Community Service on Boards and Commissions with dates served:
The following answers have only been edited for formatting purposes.
1. Why are you running to serve the Naperville Park District Board of Commissioners?
As a child growing up in Naperville, and now a mother of young children, I have relied on the park district facilities and programs to be both relevant and affordable. I hope to make a difference on the local level and make sure the voices of young parents across Naperville are heard and represented on the park district board.
2. What is the park district’s most pressing need?
One of the most important issues facing our park district right now is affordability. I want to ensure all Naperville residents have the same opportunities to take advantage of high quality and accessible programming. Even with two parents working, I know it was difficult to afford preschool programming for our children. Expanding scholarship programs to aid residents that might not be able to afford park district services will be a high priority for me. In addition, comparing our pricing to surrounding suburbs will help us stay affordable for residents.
3. What’s the best way to engage the community while planning Capital Projects?
In making our meetings more accessible (virtual), and opening up ourselves to comments and suggestions, I think the community can become much more engaged and enthused about projects the park district takes on. In spending time meeting with, and talking with residents, the need for engagement is absolutely there, we just need to tap into it and reach people where they are, which is virtually.
4. Name three park district policies that need review or immediate attention.
- Pricing of programs
- Diversity of programs
- Responsible Budget Spending
5. How often are you in touch with members of the current park board? And do you attend/watch park board meetings live or after they’re saved in the archive?
I am not in touch with current members of the park board, though I have spoken to former members of the board. I watch the meetings after they are posted, though I do believe they could me more accessible now that they have returned in person. The Zoom meetings were very easy to follow, but the recordings that are posted of the live meetings are difficult to hear and see. I would love to see streaming Zoom of all board members, and with current technologies, it wouldn’t be difficult or expensive.
6. What up-and-coming City of Naperville development will impact park district funding/planning the most? As a board member, where would you look to make budget adjustments?
I think the Naper Commons is the most pressing issue for planning and funding, if the land is granted as a park, or as a partial park. I think green space is always a great idea for our city, but we need to balance that with affordable housing needs and budgeting from the park district in affording a new park.
7. What’s the best way to communicate landscape changes such as the Park Meadow Plan to neighboring residents?
We need to reach citizens where they are at. This includes social media, internet space, and traditional newsletters and written communication. Taking out advertisements in newspapers could be another idea to reach populations without access to techonology.
8. What new use, if any, do you imagine for the facility known as the Riverwalk Café?
I would love to see a more community themed center in the Riverwalk Cafe. Something that isn’t business driven and therefore won’t depend on profits to survive.
9. What’s your favorite Naperville Park District park or facility?
My favorite park district facility is Alfred Rubin Community Center. I have fond memories of classes as a child there, attending Magical Starlight rehearsals as a teen, and as an adult sending my preschooler there. Park Districts create memories, and that facility will always be near and dear to me.
10. When was the last time you read the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights?
The U.S. Constitution I have read within the last 6 months, but I have not read the Bill of Rights since high school.
11. What recreational need is missing in Naperville that could be proposed/provided/funded by the Naperville Park District?
I think we need to look into a long term fundraising project for a community indoor pool. So many other park districts have this need fulfilled, and I think developing a long term budgeting and fundraising project for this type of facility is long overdue.
12. What’s the best way to address differences of opinion among board members or between the board and park district administration?
I think ensuring everyone has an equal voice at the table, and to remain as civil and impartial as possible are keys to navigating disagreements and differences in opinion between members. Hearing well thought out, and calmly articulated arguments from people passionate about their city are vital in a healthy democracy.
13. Share a childhood memory that features a visit to a park! (Please include city and state)
When I was little, my sister and I frequented Hunters Woods Park in Naperville. There were multiple geese that inhabited the pond and we thought it was funny to chase them through the field. One day, as we were running after the geese, one goose got really defensive and began to come after US. We both screamed and ran for our lives, with the goose hot on our trail. We narrowly escaped a justifiable beating by our local tenacious water fowl.
Anything else you’d like to add?