1.1 - Source of Authority ★

Standard:  The source of agency authority or legal basis of operation and the extent of powers shall be identified in a legal document such as the state statute, local charter, city ordinance, or park district code. 

Suggested Evidence of Compliance:  Provide legal citation and, if appropriate, date of resolution by local governing entity or legal authority (i.e., enabling act, support documentation, ordinance; if permissive state authority, provide charter).

Informational reference in the Management of Park and Recreation Agencies, (2010), 3rd Ed., Chapter 3 - Legal Authority and Jurisdiction, pp. 41-42. 

Agency Evidence of Compliance:

The Park District of Oak Park was created in 1912, as evidenced by a proclamation1 from the State of Illinois signed by the governor, "the Park District of Oak Park was formed by a voter referendum on April 2, 1912, and since that day has been providing quality parks and recreational opportunities for its residents and guests from around the world..."

The Park District has been unable to locate its articles of incorporation, however is still recognized as a duly constituted Illinois municipal corporation as explained by Mark E Burkland of Holland & Knight, General Counsel for the Park District of Oak Park, in a letter2 in 2008:

"Park District of Oak Park representatives, after diligent research including contact with the Illinois Secretary of State and record-keepers in other government offices, have been unable to locate a copy of the Park District of Oak Park's articles of incorporation.  The Park District does have information, however, indicating (a) the first meeting of the Board of Commissioners of the Park District of Oak Park was held on Monday, April 8, 1912, at which the first terms of the five commissioners were decided and (b) that the Park District of Oak Park has operated continuously as a park district after that date.

Based on the information available to us, it is our opinion that the Park District is a duly constituted Illinois unit of local government.

When the Illinois Park District Code3 (the "Park District Code") was enacted in 1947, the Illinois General Assembly declared that it was the intent of the Park District Code that all existing park districts shall be governed by the Park District Code (with exceptions applicable only to the Chicago Park District).  Since the enactment of the Park District Code, the Park District of Oak Park has operated under the provisions of that Code.  The Park District's Board of Commissioners has met regularly to conduct the business of the Park District in accordance with the Park District Code, and the Park District has purchased and sold property, created and maintained park and recreation programs, conducted referenda, levied taxes, issued obligations, and in every other respect conducted and managed its affairs in the manner of an Illinois unit of local government.

It is our further opinion, therefore, that Illinois common law recognizes the Park District of Oak Park as a duly constituted Illinois municipal corporation organized and existing under the Park District Code, regardless of the inability of the Park District to find a copy of its articles of incorporation.  See People ex rel. Mohlenbrock v. Pike, 197 Ill. 449 (1902) ("Municipal corporations being required by public necessity, the law itself, for the purpose of strengthening the infirmity of evidence and upholding the public peace and the security of private property, will indulge, after long continued use of corporate powers and the public acquiescence, in presumptions in favor of their legal existence.")"

Documentation of Evidence:

  1. Proclamation from the State of Illinois (photo below)
  2. 01.01.00_Letter-Regarding-Park-District-Incorporation.pdf
  3. Illinois Park District Code

Agency Self Assessment: MET