Angel Avalos Jr Bungalo Questionnaire Responses
1. Please provide some biographical information including age, where you grew up, education, current job, family info and how long you have lived in Berwyn.
My name is Angel Avalos, Jr. I was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1983 and grew up in the Pilsen area. After graduating from Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary high school in 2001, I attended and graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a B.A. degree in Criminal Justice. I later went back to school and received a Paralegal Certificate from Loyola University. I have been working as a Paralegal since 2012. I currently work for a law firm in Chicago dealing with complex deals, mergers and acquisitions and investment services.
Vanessa and I have been living in North Berwyn since 2010. We have two beautiful kids who utilize the North Berwyn Park District (“NBPD’) programs and parks. Vanessa is the owner of a bilingual Spanish playroom out of Logan Square.
2. Please provide activities and experience in the community that you have.
My family and I have attended several of the NBPD programs such as Easter parade, Halloween and Christmas events. We also enrolled our kids in programs such as taekwondo and soccer camp.
We have also attended various social justice events and campaigns. In addition, we also attended the Pride events, Juneteenth, the Car show Ogden Avenue and Holiday Stroll in the Depot.
As for me, I have been coaching baseball since my daughter started tee ball. I have coached for the Berwyn Recreation Center and Berwyn Park District for several seasons. I continue to coach baseball out of Harrison Park since they offer a more competitive league to play against.
3. Why are you running for the park district board? What objectives do you hope the district achieves while you are on the board?
I'm running for park district board because I do not like the direction and leadership the current board is taking. Kelly and I look to expand teen programs and opportunities, have a transparent and accessible board and fiscal accountability and oversight. Most importantly, community trust and engagement in the decision making process.
4. For non-incumbents, how many park district board meetings did you attend before September of 2022?
I attended 2 park district board meetings before September of 2022.
5. What organizations are supporting your candidacy (either implicitly or explicitly)? What public officials or current or former elected officials are supporting your candidacy?
YOUR Berwyn is supporting my candidacy for North Berwyn Park District.
6. $5 million dollar bond - Last June the voters approved a $5 million dollar bond for a water park on Maple Avenue and renovations at the old VFW Hall. Did you support or oppose the $5 million dollar bond? Please explain why you supported or opposed it.
After watching a live stream of the June 11th referendum informational meeting, I opposed the $5 million dollar bond the voters approved last June. I was not convinced by the NBPD Board to vote in favor of the bond. The financial responsibility of the Park District should not fall on the residents of Berwyn. We, the residents, are already pay into the Park District via property taxes and sale taxes. The Park District needs to explain to the residents in detail with supporting documentation to why they are in debt in the millions of dollars. According to the 2021 fiscal year as reported to the Illinois Comptroller, NBPD is in $4,869,173 total indebtedness.
7. Pools - Many residents would like to see a pool at the Maple location rather than a water park. Some residents believe that they were misled during the referendum discussion and believed that the Maple location would be a pool. In addition, when the city and the park district swapped Berwyn Gardens for the Cuyler pool and Kriz pool, Joe Vallez was quoted in the Berwyn Life newspaper with the following quote:
"Vallez said acquiring the pools will allow for increased programming within the Park District for residents, including a junior lifeguard program and swim teams and lessons."
Yet, neither has been a pool for over a decade.
What is your opinion on pools versus spray parks? Do you think the direction of the North Berwyn park district going toward spray parks is the right one in terms of costs, liability and maintenance? Should the park district create and maintain pools instead?
I also felt misled during the referendum discussion and believed that Mackin Park would have a pool. I am in favor of having pools and spray parks. However, given NBPD already has a spray park at Pryce Park and Hett Park, it is time for a pool in North Berwyn. For years the residents have been asking for a pool on 15th and Maple. At one point, the NBPD was awarded a $400,000 OSLAD grant from the Illinois Department of National Resources that would have been used towards the construction of the Maple pool project in 2015. Unfortunately due to the lack of progress, the NBPD had to return the grant they received. After the residents voiced their concerns to the NBPD Commissioners at the Mackin Park update, it appears that the final master plan now includes a pool at Mackin Park.
However, the real question is when will we see this pool as it was not budgeted in the $5 million dollar referendum. I did not like the fact that $2 million dollars from the $5 million dollar bond went to pay off a bond that was issued in 2018. The Park District should have used the entire $5 million dollar bond to redo the Maple Pool as proposed in the North Berwyn Maple Pool project in 2015 and use the remaining funds to renovate the VFW Hall.
8. Renovation of VFW Hall - The 16th Street Theater stated that one of the reasons they were folding was that the renovations at the VFW Hall were going in a different direction. Please explain your opinion on the renovations at the VFW Hall and whether the proposed renovations are what you would like to see.
Unfortunately, it’s sad to see The 16th Street fold. Here is another prime example of the NBPD not sticking to their word. I am disappointed with the Board of Directors for the direction they are taking with the renovations at the VFW Hall. Before asking for the $5 million dollar referendum, they should have held focus groups to see what exactly the building could have been used for. Granted, the finalized master plan includes building expansion amenities. However, this future expansion should have been part of initial renovations because we urgently need a space for highschool age kids. Granted, we can not wait another several years for the future expansion to actually happen and be completed.
9. Joe Vallez - The district has been criticized for allowing Joe Vallez to work at 4 different park districts (NBPD, Bensenville, Marengo and Justice). The critics believe that Vallez was spread too thin and did not provide enough support to NBPD. Vallez currently works at two park districts - NPBD and Bensenville. In addition, Vallez hired his partner Inara Canino as an employee of the NBPD, raising the issue of nepotism.
What is your opinion on Vallez working at multiple park districts and the job that Vallez is doing at NBPD. Do you think the district should try to hire another director?
In my opinion, I think it was wrong for the Park District to allow Joe Vallez to work at 4 different park districts. The Park District Commissioners should have never allowed this to happen. Given Joe’s track record, it is time for the Park District to start looking for another Executive Director. It seems like whatever Joe oversees, there seems to be a problem. For example, while as Executive Director at Marengo Park District, the public swimming pools and skate park were closed due to maintenance and funding issues. Just last year, the Bensenville Parks were under investigation for theft. This happened under the Executive Director of Joe Vallez. Another example is the NBPD was delinquent in its 2020 fiscal year report.
We definitely need a new Executive Director that will help rebuild the North Berwyn Park District.
10. Unity Park - The North Berwyn Park District sold Unity Park in 2019 for only $21,500 to a developer. The buyer re-sold the property 5 months later for $55,000 to a developer who then built 2 homes on the property that are selling for $740,000. The park had fallen into disarray when the property was sold to the developer.
What is your opinion about what happened with Unity Park?
It’s a shame that The North Berwyn Park District got the short end of the deal on this transaction. They should have never sold this park. Instead, they should have found a way in the 2020 budget to reinvest in this park for the community to enjoy. Also, if they voted against the Roosevelt Road TIF extension, they could have used the additional revenue to rebuild Unity Park.
11. Park District management - The district has had several missteps on completing the audit of its books, with the audits being behind schedule. In addition, according to an online news article, the district was put on probation because it did not use grants in a timely fashion. The article stated that the North Berwyn Park District was banned from applying for all grants from the Office of Grant Management and Assistance for two grant cycles. The park district had received $200,000 in grants for a swimming pool at 15th & Maple and was forced to return the $200,000 due to a lack of progress.
What is your opinion of how well or how poorly the board and the administrators have been managing the park district, given what has happened with Unity Park, the audits and being put on probation.
The Park District management needs to be re-evaluated and make sure they are fit to continue with their current roles. This is like any other job. If you perform poorly, there will be consequences. The Park District can not afford any more missteps. Especially when they spend above their means and leave the park district in debt. I just hope no missteps are taken during the Mackin Project.
12. Combining with Berwyn Park District - Would you support or oppose an effort to combine the North Berwyn Park District and the Berwyn Park District into a single entity? Please explain why you would support it or oppose it?
I support the effort to combine the North Berwyn Park District and the Berwyn Park District into a single entity. Given the size of Berwyn, we do not need two park districts. By combining both districts, we will be able to increase the number of parks in Berwyn, green spaces and resources. Most importantly, both districts will not be competing for program registrations or special events.
13. Roosevelt Road TIF extension - In 2019, the park district board voted to extend the Roosevelt Road TIF district for another 12 years, thereby costing the district additional revenue over that 12 year period. Do you support or oppose the decision to extend the TIF district? Please explain why.
I oppose the decision of the Park District to vote in favor of extending the Roosevelt Road TIF district for another 12 years. The Park District could have used the additional revenue to pay off the district’s debt, reinvest the revenue to rebuild existing parks or special projects such as Mackin Park, or develop new programs.
14. Do you have any comments on the contract that NBPD entered into with a company owned by State Senator Martin Sandoval that was supposed to translate district materials into Spanish. The allegation was that the work was not done and that the contract was due to political connections.
Unfortunately what happened with the contract with the company owned by State Senator Martin Sandoval is done. We need to make sure policies and procedures are in place to avoid something like this from happening in the future.