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Lenus Turley Park is pictured earlier this year.

CARBONDALE — Alongside choosing their local leadership, Carbondale voters in April will have the chance to weigh in on whether the city should begin discussion of absorbing the Carbondale Park District.

This was the result of a vote during Tuesday’s City Council meeting — councilwoman Carolin Harvey said the vote was all yeses, as members supported an advisory question to be put on April’s ballot regarding support for the discussion.

Harvey said, broadly speaking, the Council seemed keen on the idea — potentially.

Kathy Renfro is the executive director of the Carbondale Park District and said that, for their part, the CPD isn’t opposed to it either. She said they are “happy to explore a new idea.”

The Park District is its own taxing body and this would be a considerable part of the conversation should the council take up talks next year. How would this tax function, would it stay on the books and would it maintain its current rate are all big questions with unknown answers.

Renfro said, without digging into the weeds, that the decision to dissolve the district would either have to come from the voters or from the park’s board.

This is miles away from happening, though. The vote Tuesday was, effectively, a vote to give voters the ability to vote on whether the council should even take up the discussion. Far from binding, Renfro said.

Harvey said she saw the potential for cost savings for the taxpayers if the process was handled correctly — department redundancies could be eliminated and equipment sharing could free up manpower and hours for more hands on work. But neither Harvey nor Renfro wanted to see job reductions.

Renfro was quick to pump the breaks on cost savings talk, though. Not dismissive, but cautious — she said she hasn’t seen any conclusive data that these kinds of savings would actually happen.

“We don't have enough information to make an informed decision,” she said. However, the CPD is willing to sit at the table in an effort “that we get a better park system.”

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On Twitter: @ismithreports



Isaac Smith is a reporter covering Jackson County.

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