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Oswegoland Park Board’s Wass quits, rips panel

Updated: January 24, 2013 6:33AM

After about a year and a half serving on the Oswegoland Park Board, Oswego resident Len Wass has resigned from his position as commissioner.

In a statement to the park board this week, Wass criticized the board for not doing more to lower costs and cut taxes.

“It has been a great disappointment for me to be a part of a board that puts taxpayers’ interest last,” Wass said, reading aloud his resignation letter to the board. “I am ashamed to have served on this board, which, in my opinion, is incompetent.”

Wass was elected in April 2011 on a platform of restoring fiscal responsibility to the Park Board, claiming that the board spends more per resident than any other park district in the country, particularly because it is overstaffed.

Since being seated, he and the rest of the board have had an uneasy and litigious relationship. In December 2011, he accused the board of an Open Meetings Action violation after a verbal altercation in a closed session meeting; and last month, he and the other Park Board members consulted lawyers to determine whether Wass could sit on the board while his second home in Somonauk was listed as his primary residence.

Board President Bob Mattingly said he was “not surprised” by Wass’ resignation.

“Commissioner Wass has made it known that he does not believe a park district is essential to a community,” Mattingly said.

Mattingly said he believed Wass’ sole reason for running for the board was because the park district purchased riverfront land near Wass’ Adams Street home. In his resignation letter, Wass referred to that purchase as an example of wasteful spending.

“It’s not important at all to the community in his eyes,” Mattingly said.

Still, Wass may have left a mark. In November, he asked for a 20 percent decrease in the Oswegoland Park District’s levy for 2013. In response, the board approved a levy that is 5 percent lower than what was levied in 2012, in a year when most government bodies around Oswego have either increased or maintained their tax levy.

Wass resigned effective immediately after finishing his statement Thursday and left the meeting.

But he said he would not be giving up on trying to reform the Park Board.

“Be advised that my resignation does not mean that the Park Board will be free to pursue its old wasteful spending ways without a watchdog in its house,” Wass said.

“I will continue to provide board oversight from the outside.”

Wass’ seat will now be filled in the April election. Nomination packets may be picked up during regular business hours at Prairie Point Center, 313 E. Washington St. The deadline to file is 5 p.m. Dec. 26.

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