Fact-Checking: Elmhurst ‘State of the Park District’ Address

by Dave Noble, City News Editor

ELMHURST – Ushered in by brass and percussion members from the York High School marching band and by a smattering of applause from the handful of attendees seated comfortably in metal folding chairs around banquet tables adorned with green disposable tablecloths, Elmhurst Park District Board President Vince Spaeth and Executive Director Jim Rogers delivered the first ever “State of the Park District” address at The Abbey on Thursday evening with a presentation of the park district’s recent accomplishments, current projects, and future plans.

The Elmhurst Funion editorial team – with the help of local playground vagrants and prominent park district program participants – has annotated everything Spaeth and Rogers said during the titillating 45-minute presentation. Portions from the “State of the Park District” address are listed below, followed by fact-checks to determine the accuracy of the statements.

Spaeth: “I love The Abbey. We should hold more events here.” (Overheard during the 15-minute networking session before the presentation began).

FALSE: A Yelp review under the name “Vinnie S.” verified as coming from Spaeth’s personal account shows a 1-star review of The Abbey from November of 2015, and states: “Refreshments at The Abbey are a joke. Stale potato chips and an off-brand version of Tang served in a Dixie cup.”

Rogers: “The Polar Express Storytime Train is a wonderful winter event for children that recreates the holiday magic from that Tom Hanks movie.”

FALSE: Refreshments ARE NOT served by the train’s conductor and service crew performing a dangerous musical number while dancing on tables and shooting hot chocolate from a decanter across the train car.

Spaeth: “Both kids and parents love the new playground at East End Park.”

TRUE: Parents at the playground are often heard commenting that they are relieved the park district didn’t install basketball courts nearby, keeping a more “communal” and “inclusive” atmosphere at the playground.

Rogers: “There have been a few bumps in the past, but we have greatly improved the online registration process for park district programs, and we are 100% confident that everything will go smoothly this year.”

FALSE: Both Rogers and Spaeth have booked vacations abroad during the park district’s on line program registration period this February so that they will not be available to address angry parents when the system fails again.

Rogers: “There were fewer incidents at the Wilder Park Easter Egg Hunt this year.”

TRUE: Arrests of parents at the event dropped significantly in 2016 from the previous year, and the number of eggs collected at the event rose sharply to an average of .75 eggs per child.

Spaeth: “Wilder Mansion has become a destination spot for couples to hold their wedding reception. The Park District took in a lot of revenue last year through weddings at the mansion.”

TRUE: But Spaeth failed to mention that the park district made an additional $11,000 last year from couples who divorced in 2015 and paid for the removal of the engraved paver brick that was placed within Elizabeth’s Friendship Walk to commemorate their wedding day.

Rogers: “Children enjoy dancing to live music with their parents at the annual Park Palooza.”

FALSE: Numerous children were seen hiding under lawn chairs and openly crying this summer at the site of their parents playing air guitar or attempting to perform “The Macarena” during Park Palooza.

Rogers: “Adult softball leagues are so popular, we are going to add additional time slots and lower the maximum duration of each game.”

TRUE: The start of the last scheduled game on weekdays will be midnight instead of 10 p.m., and the maximum duration of each game will be lowered from 50 minutes to 25 minutes.

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