Oregon Village Hall

Oregon Village Hall, 2015

The Village of Oregon is expected to take steps later this fall to fill its six Park Board vacancies, including one that’s for a student member who has voting power.

Village president Jeanne Carpenter said she purposely held the seats open “longer than usual” because with the COVD-19 pandemic, Oregon has had less activity at its parks and recreational programming. The Park Board did not meet this summer, she said, because of a lack of topics and business.

“I am expecting that to change, however, next year,” Carpenter wrote the Observer in an email. Last December, the Village Board changed the bylaws for how the Park Board is set up, eliminating an “outdated” method that reserved seats for representatives of various organizations, Carpenter said. Those included the Oregon Jaycees, which haven’t existed in a long time, as well as the Oregon Rotary Club, Oregon Area Chamber of Commerce, Oregon school board and others.

“It was perfect timing, as all but one member’s terms were expiring, and we were having trouble filling specific slots with specific representatives,” she wrote. “Thus, we changed it to be an open seat board, where anyone may apply for a seat as long as they are a village resident.”

Park Board member Cory Horton, a village trustee, told the Observer the move “modernized” the makeup of the entity.

The village, Carpenter said, has already received six applications, and she knows of two more people who have expressed interest in serving. She plans to present the slate of candidates to the Village Board in October or November and to have the Park Board rebuilt in 2021, she wrote.

Horton said members review current policies and procedures, add or change already existing village parks and shape how Oregon’s public spaces might look in the future. The purpose of having a student member with voting power, he said, is to ensure a diversity of viewpoints and better determine what new developments might look like.

“A lot of the park system is geared toward that younger group,” Horton said.

He said the Park Board is seeking people from all races, socioeconomic statuses and skill sets.

“We haven’t really had enough of that in the past,” Horton said of diversity on the board. “We are doing what we can to encourage that.”

To be part of the Park Board, applicants are asked to fill out a form at vil.oregon.wi.us, under the “Employment” button and return it to Village Hall, 117 Spring St., or to village administrator Mike Gracz, who makes sure they are eligible to serve, Carpenter said. Gracz can be reached at 835-3118 or mgracz@vil.oregon.wi.us.

“I then interview applicants over the phone, and make a final recommendation to the Village Board on my selections,” Carpenter wrote. “The board sees all applications in open session (included in the packet) and has the opportunity to disagree with me or make motions to change my recommendations.”

Email Emilie Heidemann at emilie.heidemann@wcinet.com or follow her on Twitter at @HeidemannEmilie.