Pickleball courts, dog parks and grants for an arts program led by House Speaker Michael Madigan’s wife are on a lengthy list of lawmakers’ pet projects paid for by a massive gambling expansion and tax hikes on smoking and parking.
The pork barrel bonanza comes courtesy of Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s $45 billion construction program that lawmakers approved as the spring legislative session spilled into overtime last weekend. It’s a signature away from becoming law. […]
Standing to benefit is pickleball, a fledgling sport that’s part tennis, part badminton and part pingpong. Democratic Sen. Terry Link of Vernon Hills tucked in $100,000 for the Buffalo Grove Park District for pickleball courts and other renovations.
The Park District plans to seal coat eight new courts at Mike Rylko Community Park because the paddle sport has “really taken off,” said Ryan Risinger, the district’s executive director. The new courts would replace rarely used sand volleyball courts, he said.
There’s also $20,000 for pickleball courts at Gwendolyn Brooks Park in Chicago’s North Kenwood neighborhood. Freshman Democratic Sen. Robert Peters said the court provides “first touches” for people in his district, saying he made choices based on local experts and community leaders who saw the need to upgrade broken and rusted equipment.
“I hope people understand why kids feel like they can’t even be in their own neighborhoods right now — if the park isn’t even safe in its structure,” Peters said. “Growing up on the South Side, the park was where I would go when I couldn’t go home. It’s its own shelter in a time of need.”
The $120,000 total listed above is 0.00027% (two-point-seven ten-thousandths of one percent) of the new infrastructure bill. And even that microcosmic percentage is way too high because the Buffalo Grove Park District appropriation isn’t solely for pickleball…
The sum of $100,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the Build Illinois Bond Fund to the Buffalo Grove Park District for costs associated with the arts center renovations, pool repairs, ADA compliant ball field construction, playground renovation, and a pickleball court.
Build Illinois is from the
George Ryan Jim Thompson era, by the way.
* State capital bills routinely help fund local park projects. But, hey, cherry-picking an odd-sounding newish “sport” can be a useful tool to persuade the masses that the rest of their tax dollars are being misspent. Hey, they could very well be right, but a little context might be in order. Here’s the Tribune editorial board to close…
Illinois taxpayers deserve more accountability from their elected leaders. This bill should have been downsized significantly. It wasn’t.
Anyone for pickleball?