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A Comparative Analysis of Illinois, Ohio, Colorado and South Dakota Park Districts and Parks and Recreation Departments to Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Indiana, and Michigan Parks and Recreation Departments
Unformatted Document Text:  recreation services by creating a special purpose governmental unit independent from the Tammany Hall political machine that ran New York City government. Park district advocates point to the initial success that this early “park district” achieved in building Central Park as evidence that park districts provide a more effective structure of government than departments of municipalities in delivering leisure services because they are able to avoid the inevitable patronage that suppresses service levels (McLaughlin, 1983). Advocates also observe how the success of the Central Park Commission was reversed when Tammany Hall convinced the New York Legislature to eliminate the special district function and make it part of city government (Platt, 1996). Such support provides rationale to legislatures for the existence of park districts as special purpose governments (Stetzer, 1975). Recently, members of the Illinois General Assembly expanded the conventional wisdom that park districts are effective service delivery systems 7 to include a belief that park districts are also more efficient than parks and recreation departments at providing these services. 8 Evidence of this legislative perspective is available in the form of an Illinois Association of Park Districts (IAPD) video titled The Park District Advantage (IAPD, 2001). In this video, State Representative Andrea Moore encourages Illinois communities without park districts to create them and communities with park districts to retain them. Moore states, “services that are provided by park districts… aren’t able to be provided by other forms of local government in as efficient a way as they can by districts themselves” (IAPD Video, 2001). 7 Effective is defined to mean that park districts provide higher levels of services than park and recreation departments. 8 Efficient is defined to mean that park districts provide services at a lower cost per unit than park and recreation departments. 10

Authors: Emanuelson, David.
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recreation services by creating a special purpose governmental unit independent
from the Tammany Hall political machine that ran New York City government.
Park district advocates point to the initial success that this early “park district”
achieved in building Central Park as evidence that park districts provide a more
effective structure of government than departments of municipalities in delivering
leisure services because they are able to avoid the inevitable patronage that
suppresses service levels (McLaughlin, 1983).
Advocates also observe how the success of the Central Park Commission was
reversed when Tammany Hall convinced the New York Legislature to eliminate the
special district function and make it part of city government (Platt, 1996).
Such support provides rationale to legislatures for the existence of park districts as
special purpose governments (Stetzer, 1975). Recently, members of the Illinois
General Assembly expanded the conventional wisdom that park districts are
effective service delivery systems
to include a belief that park districts are also more
efficient than parks and recreation departments at providing these services.
Evidence of this legislative perspective is available in the form of an Illinois
Association of Park Districts (IAPD) video titled The Park District Advantage
(IAPD, 2001). In this video, State Representative Andrea Moore encourages Illinois
communities without park districts to create them and communities with park
districts to retain them. Moore states, “services that are provided by park districts…
aren’t able to be provided by other forms of local government in as efficient a way as
they can by districts themselves” (IAPD Video, 2001).
7
Effective is defined to mean that park districts provide higher levels of services than park and recreation
departments.
8
Efficient is defined to mean that park districts provide services at a lower cost per unit than park and
recreation departments.
10


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