Quincy News

Quincy Park Board candidate: Roger Leenerts

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 23, 2019 12:01 am Updated: Mar. 24, 2019 12:16 am
Quincy Board candidate Roger Leenerts poses in the studio in QUincy on Thursday, Mar. 14, 2019. | H-W Photo/Katelyn Metzger
Katelyn Metzger1|

Roger Leenerts

 

Age: 54.

Occupation: Self-employed manufacturing consultant/contract engineer and adjunct instructor at Quincy University.

Education: Mechanical engineering degree from Bradley University, Master of Business Administration from Keller Graduate School of Management.

Political experience: None.

Other relevant experience: None.

Family: Wife, Julie; daughter, Kate; daughter and son-in-law, Anna and Logan; son, Grant.

Community involvement: I am on the regional Junior Achievement executive board, a member of the Rotary Club of Quincy and a member and treasurer of the Gem City Toastmasters. I volunteer with Quincy Public Schools (vo-tech advisory board), JWCC (manufacturing advisory board), SCORE (assisting entrepreneurs), GREDF (Makerfest bridge building) and the QU CEO Club (speaking). I previously served on the Greenmount Cemetery board, Big Brothers Big Sisters board and was a Scout leader for many years.

 

Why do you want to serve on the Park Board?

I have three reasons for wanting to serve on the Park Board:

1. I am a concerned and appreciative taxpayer.

2. I am a user of many Park District services.

3. I want to give back to my community.

 

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

The largest challenge facing the Park District will be maintaining the current parks and facilities and continue providing a high level of customer service without raising taxes. The Illinois minimum wage law will end up impacting all wages. To offset the increased wages, the Quincy Park District will need to increase its efforts in low maintenance structures, labor-saving equipment and procedures and changing the methods we currently use to take care of certain properties.

 

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

An increased community involvement is the greatest opportunity. This can be addressed through two ways. First, although the Park District has an excellent marketing program, it needs to reach out to the Quincy citizens who currently do not use Park District facilities and determine how to increase their involvement. Second, the Park District needs to continue utilizing every volunteer, service organization and all who are willing to put forth the time, money and energy to improve the parks and facilities that we enjoy.

 

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 in our community is its mission statement. It says: "The Quincy Park District will enhance the recreational, cultural, historical and environmental qualities of life for all its residents through the provision of a well-planned, developed, maintained and accessible system of public parks, facilities, and programs." I believe the Park District has done a pretty good job of accomplishing its mission, but there is always room for improvement.

 

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?

In general, I think the current Park Board members have made good decisions at the open public meetings. I've been attending the meetings since last May and have enjoyed listening to the comments made. One constructive criticism that I would make about the current board is that it appears some board members are not prepared for the monthly meeting. I believe every board member needs to prepare themselves by thoroughly going through the board packet ahead of time. This allows simple questions about director's reports to be answered prior to the meeting time and creates a better environment for discussing important topics when everyone is informed.

 

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?

Based on the information I have gathered, I do not currently support that project. With discussions about a possible new bridge coming into Quincy, I would want to know exactly where our entrance to the city and our state is going to be. I would also need to understand the ranking of the key objectives and priorities (local tourism, state tourism, support riverfront businesses, recreation, business and citizen attraction, etc.) of this park. I do support the idea of a referendum on projects like this because it gives the voters an opportunity to express their wishes rather than leave it up to the board to make the decision. The level that the Park District should be involved in riverfront development is going to depend on the key objectives I previously mentioned. That will determine the proportionate level of involvement from the state, county, city, local businesses and the Park District.

 

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?

Now that the decision has been made to extend the current trail from Bonansinga Drive to 24th Street, I fully support making that project a priority in terms of using the available resources and meeting the project goals and deadlines. I support extending the trail past 24th Street, but that is going to have to wait several years unless there are enough private donations provided. Several community members have inquired about extending the trail at a lower cost per mile by changing construction techniques, and I believe all options should be considered. Cities all across America are incorporating more walking and biking paths in their communities. I think we should keep this thought in mind during street and subdivision planning.

 

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?

Absolutely yes. One of the key indicators of the commitment that a community has toward any project is when local groups of individuals and organizations are willing to give their time and money. When the partnership and collaboration is strong, the usage and end result of the project or program will be effective.

 

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?

The critical answer here should not be what I want to see but rather what do the citizens of Quincy want to see? Surveys and the feedback that the Park District employees receive should reveal the need for future projects. Needs change over the years, and being responsive to those needs is key to good customer service. For example, four years ago there might have been a handful of pickleball players in Quincy, and now there are hundreds. It is considered to be the fastest growing sport in the United States, and the Park District has done a good job of responding to the needs of the community.

 

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

If taxpayers use park district facilities and services, they absolutely get their money's worth. The average cost works out to be less than $9 per month for each Quincy resident. The average individual cost to join the YMCA or Kroc Center is over $20 per month. If you consider that you have access to 1,000 acres of park land, 23 picnic shelters, 15 playground sites, walking paths and more, it seems like a good value to me.

 

What Park District services do you and your family use?

In the past year it has mainly been using the pickleball courts and the Bill Klingner Trail. Raising our family in Quincy, we have used the swimming pools, soccer fields, fishing at Upper Moorman, T-ball fields, Westview Golf Course, tennis courts, playgrounds, picnic areas and many special events sponsored by the Park District.

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