Quincy News

Quincy Park Board candidate: Nathan Koetters

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 23, 2019 12:01 am Updated: Mar. 24, 2019 12:14 am

Nathan Koetters


Age: 36.

Occupation: Teacher at Quincy Notre Dame High School.

Education: Bachelor of Arts in history from Western Illinois University and Master of Science in education administration from Quincy University.

Political experience: None.

Other relevant experience: President of the St. Francis Solanus Holy Name Society; worked the past three years for the Quincy Park District supervising athletic programs; and formerly a member of the Washington Theater Redevelopment Committee.

Family: Single.

Community involvement: Active member of St. Francis Solanus Parish; director of Catholic Athletes for Christ; 13 years as a coach of youth sports ranging from fifth grade to the varsity level; Dancing With the Local Stars fundraising event.


Why do you want to serve on the Park Board?

For the past three years, I have worked part-time for the Park District as the athletics supervisor. I really enjoyed my time there and the people I worked with and got to know. I also gained a better appreciation for all the Park District has to offer. I see serving on the board as a way to stay involved and use my experience to benefit the Park District.


What are the biggest challenges facing the Quincy Park District, and how should they be addressed?

I think the biggest challenge facing the Park Board is the temptation to invest in big money projects. They sound great initially but would most likely draw funds away from what the Park District already offers. We can look at how much the city has narrowly focused on the downtown area, while the rest of the city, particularly roads, has been ignored. I will talk more about the riverfront project in a later question, but I would hate to see the Park District be forced to shut down programs or sell off assets in order to pay for some big money project with little return to the District of taxpayers.


What are the biggest opportunities for the Quincy Park District, and how should they be addressed?

One of the biggest opportunities is in the growing demand for youth and adult athletics. Over the past three years, the Park District's soccer program has grown tremendously to include the addition of a fall session last year. We listened to people and added (12 and under) and (10 and under) competitive baseball last summer. Their success made for a better Little League product and the demand for a (14 and under) baseball league this year. Sand volleyball for all ages was so successful last year that there will be three sessions this year. With the addition of another turf baseball diamond, the Park District can market the facilities to outside groups to host weekend tournaments. This will not only bring more people to the parks but also generate business for the community.


What do you see as the role of the Quincy Park District in the community? Is the Park District meeting that objective?

I believe the role of the Park District is to provide and maintain our beautiful parks and green spaces. Being from the country, the most enjoyable thing about the parks for me is the ease to connect with nature in town. The growing recreational opportunities available with bike and walking trials add to this enjoyment.


Do you think the current Park Board is moving the district in the right direction? What do you like? What don't you like, and how would hope to change it?

I think for the most part the Park Board is moving in the right direction. They have worked with outside groups to gain funding to help build and upgrade facilities. This is something that should be continued in the future. The biggest issue I see, as mentioned earlier, is the Park District taking on projects that would draw resources from what the Park District already offers. This is more troubling when these projects are not coming from those hired to run the Park District or elected to represent the voters on the board but from outside sources. The Park District is an independent municipal agency, and the board needs to serve as so.


The Park District has sought proposals on a public boat dock, promenade and boardwalk along a portion of the riverfront adjacent to Clat Adams Bicentennial Park. The joint project with the city of Quincy and Adams County would require a referendum to sell bonds to fund the Park District's share. Do you support such a project? How involved should the Park District be with riverfront development?

More development on the riverfront would be great. However, as it was rolled out this past year, I would not support it for multiple reasons. The first I heard of this was over a year ago when it was proposed by the mayor in his State of the City address. It was later revealed to the Park Board in July. At the July meeting it was presented as a shared endeavor with the city and county, with the Park District paying $1.5 million of it. By the end of the year the Park District was now looking at $4 million to $6 million. Unlike the trail and ballparks, there was no talk of outside donors or grants, and instead the Park District would have to sell $4 million dollars in bonds. It essentially went from a city project, partnering with the Park District, to now a Park District project that they would have to raise taxes to support. Such a big project that the Park District would also be responsible for maintaining would draw substantial resources away from other areas.


Trail construction continues to be a priority of the Park District with construction of a new segment of the Bill Klingner Trail starting this spring. Do you support making trail construction a priority? What are your thoughts on offering more trails to Quincy residents?

As I've talked to people while running for the Board and from the Park District's own 2017 survey, the Klingner Trail is by far our most popular feature and the one people want to see extended. One of the few complaints I've heard is that there is not a similar trail in the south part of the city. One other great thing about the trail is that much of it has been paid for with donations, grants and groups like Friends of the Trail raising money toward its expansion. If the Board has similar support in the future, I would definitely support expanding the trail system to other parts of Quincy.


The Quincy Park District has partnered with many organizations in recent years to complete projects (i.e. Lincoln Park development, the skate park, Friends of the Trail, Pepsi Field, etc.). Should the Park District continue these types of partnerships?

Yes, the Park District is a public entity. It should be open to partnering with any organization, within reason, that wants to offer more opportunities to the Quincy community.


The Quincy Park District takes on numerous capital projects each year. Are they the type of projects you want to see? What else could they do?

As I previously mentioned, many of these campaigns have been for projects that were partnered with money coming from grants and donations. This has helped keep the cost manageable. I would like to see the Park District continue to seek out these kinds of partnerships to share in the cost of any future capital projects.


The Quincy Park Board approved a property tax levy, including bond payments, of about $4 million. Do taxpayers get their money's worth? Why?

I believe they do get their money's worth. The parks are full of walkers and bikers. The disc golf course at Moorman Park is constantly busy. Quincy High School and Quincy Notre Dame High School both hold their cross-country and tennis meets at our parks. The recreational programs we offer are a very affordable and quality experience for parents who want their kids to get out and be active without the excessive cost of today's youth sports. There are so many things the parks offer to the Quincy community. People just need to get out and take advantage of them.


What Park District services do you and your family use?

I would have to say I use the trail system the most out of all the Park District's resources. I love riding my bike as a way of staying in shape. The trails are not only a safe alternative to cycling in the streets, but they also have some of the best natural views that Quincy has to offer. I am very glad to see so many people taking advantage of this great service.

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