Paying to park at Munster’s Centennial Park

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Local Voices

Elvis Slaughter

The people of Illinois have frequented the 200-acre Centennial Park since its popularity grew more during the pandemic. Therefore, Munster residents complained about the traffic from Illinois residents using the park. As a result, the Town of Munster decided to charge a parking fee to all non-residents.

Munster residents can visit the park at no cost, but non-residents have to pay $2.00 an hour or $5.00 a day between April and October, or $120 for an annual pass. The suggested parking notice charges will be:

  • 1st notice: $45 only if paid within 15 days of notice
  • 2nd notice: $85 if paid after 16 days and after that of the notice date

It should, however, be noted this agreement is contingent upon review by the town’s attorney.

The lot profit share is in the ratio of 80:20, with 80% going to the client, the Town of Munster, and 20% going to Asta Parking [a parking management company]. Anticipated gross revenue for Munster and Asta from April to October is projected to be a sum of $417,672. The total projected expenses are $74,318, leaving $343,354. Going by the 80% lot share ratio, the Town of Munster will have a projected share of $274,683.

We must establish that most non-residents from Illinois who use the Centennial Park are minority people. The annual fee payment of $120 is supposed to give access to park privileges for one year. However, according to the signs posted by the Town of Munster, this pass covers from June through December. Actually, it only covers from June to October because there is no fee from November through March each year. Therefore, this practice appears to be deceptive against all non-Munster residents.

I want to call on the Town of Munster to honor the true meaning of an annual pass, which is one year. The current exorbitant price of $120 should be reduced to $60 for a semiannual pass, because July 15, 2022, is halfway to an annual pass, according to the contract by Asta and Munster.

In addition, veterans, the disabled, and senior citizens should be offered discounted parking fees, as they won’t be able to afford this due to limited income and struggle with our current state of inflation. This will deny them access to the park and getting the required exercise for their health.

Munster should also put up a visible sign upon entering and leaving Centennial Park notifying visitors they have only 15 minutes to pay for parking or leave the park before receiving a violation. Most nonresidents are unaware of the 15-minute turnaround rule that generates additional revenue.

The park represents an important part of the memories for all visitors, including senior citizens, the disabled, and veterans. Unfortunately, putting an exorbitant price on its use will deter them from using the park. Is this the plan for Illinois residents?

Elvis Slaughter, Illinois Resident


Local Voices is our version of “Letters to the Editor.” The opinions posted here are those of the writers, and posting them does not indicate endorsement by The Lansing Journal. We welcome input from fellow residents who have thoughtful things to say about topics that are important to our community. Send your submissions to The Lansing Journal with “Voices” in the subject line.

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29 COMMENTS

  1. 1 word boycott Munster businesses seems they are ok with illinois patrons spending money in their town. Let them keep the park and spend our money someplace else.

  2. Well said and I agree with your sentiments. It makes me upset to see another invisible wall put up to further divide us. Where is the land of the free?

  3. I walk over there with friends from Illinois when we first started during the pandemic I knew it would sit right … way to many black people…and I’m black

  4. I can not see charging for parking there. Most people from out of state spend money especially gas in Munster, The only time I have ever seen it full was during concerts but parking has never been a problem ! If it is not broken don’t try to fix it ! I see no problem at the park I have never used and drive by quit often. The only time I have seen parking full is the concerts and fourth of July fireworks !

  5. This is merely a way to raise revenue and maintain the park to the high standards expected. Unbelievable how “race” gets injected into everything on social media.

  6. This is yet another way to keep black and brown people from utilizing the park. It amazes me how people always talking about not being racist, yet there is a statement that specifically says the park is mostly used by minorities!! So the minorities that fought the many wars and served in the military don’t count huh. Munster needs to be ashamed of itself, but at the same time I’m not surprised, residents that live close by and are Illinois residents should not have to pay to park and use a PUBLIC park.

  7. Property owners in Munster paid for Centennial Park, Just like tax payers in Lansing paid for Fox Point. If Lansing wants to charge for parking at Fox Point, that is their right as the property owner. As far as people from Illinois using Munster businesses, taxes are less in Indiana compared to Illinois because the people of Illinois let the politicians in Cook County continually charge higher taxes than the rest of the nation and eventually businesses leave. Less taxes, cheaper products. Stop using the businesses in Munster, but Illinois residents wont because products are less expensive in Indiana. Move to Munster if you want to use the park for free, just don’t bring your politics

  8. When the park was opened for over a decade, it was immaculate and clean. No garbage because there was respect for this gorgeous park. CFNI donated the park and upkeep to maintain is Munsters tax dollars. Now that illinoisans are come, the ground is loitered and garbage everywhere. This is one big reason Illinois ruined it for illinoians. There’s no racism other you saying that. We want our park the way it was the we paid for, not you.

    Racist comments are one more reason we don’t want you in the park. You have parks in Illinois like Fox Point and Lan Oak. Go there and let us enjoy our own.

    Thanks

  9. There is another reason behind fees. they have to pay for the building on the premises that has been sinking because it was constructed improperly

  10. Try looking at this from a different perspective. This is not so much a revenue opportunity as it is a necessary maintenance fee which will pay for the manpower required to clean the park after all the non-Munster residents have spent time there. Instead of criticizing a community for attempting to keep their budget balanced while keeping their parks clean, you may want to go to the park and admonish the people there who use it as a dumping place for their garbage. “Take only memories, leave only footprints…”

    You are misguided in your thinking that this fee is directed at Illinois residents. There are plenty of non-Munster residents in Indiana who use the facilities at the park. Yes, parks are a place for everyone to enjoy but they are not required to be free. I encourage you to look to the Chicago Park District and City of Chicago to see that.

  11. R bogs, as Indiana residents have reaped the benefits of our beautiful city of Chicago and the lakefront as well many good paying jobs in Illinois. Parking fees in Chicago may be high but we all pay equally even though Cook County and Illinois tax payers pay for it!

    I don’t feel it is a minority issue as Wicker park used to charge for out of state as Indiana State parks charge higher fees for out of state residents.

    Illinois state parks do not charge for out of state and maybe should.
    As an Illinois resident I just boycott these parks and wish all would follow. We’d quickly see them take out the parking fees. Please keep your purchases in Illinois as well!!!

    Out of state commuter tax anyone???

  12. I would make note of the fact that most veterans are not poor, many disabled are not poor and many Lansing minorities are not poor. Lansing has many nice parks and bike paths so there are many options.

    I notice that Lansing keeps Fox Ponte closed when not having a performance, have you asked the village why residents can not walk, sit, walk their dogs or have lunch there?

    You seem to be fabricating complaints biased on the common liberal thread.

  13. Members of my family have been enjoying Centennial Park park for a few years now. Let’s just say we are “colorful” people. We have had to stop going to that park because of the way other “colorful” people conduct themselves there, it’s embarrassing. Years ago Mayor Daley imposed paid parking in certain areas of Chicago to try and curtail some classes of folks from being in those areas: DID NOT WORK. Munster has long been shall we say a little standoffish to some folks. We now live in an environment of entitlement, meaning rules are not to be enforced because everyone has rights and also in their minds the rights mean to do anything they want as long as they are comfortable.

  14. Dan………., I pointed out the apparent deception with the yearly parking rates, and fees that are affecting all non-residents, of all races, and political affiliations.

    What is your position on the fees?

    This is America, anyone can walk, run, or visit any Park or neighborhood in America without barriers and walls, including Lan Oak and Centennial Park. Do you agree?

  15. The cost of the maintenance of the park isn’t free. With an influx of visitors the wear and tear is higher… so how does that get paid for? Are residents supposed to cover that extra cost through property taxes so it’s completely free to non-residents? Make that logic make sense to me…

  16. Many parks charge for parking in both Indiana and Illinois. Try parking anywhere in Chicago or near the Lakefront. It’s far pricier. Lincoln Park, Grant Park, etc.
    And the fact is that on weekends Centennial had become a party destination with weed wafting in the air in the parking lots. Do you wait for something bad to happen or be proactive?

  17. I have to pay the parking fee too, and really don’t like it. But I’m not a veteran, I am a senior, I am not a person of color… I just thought it was because Munster makes Munster park rules, just like St John doesn’t permit me to fish in their parks because St John makes the rules for St John parks.
    If Mr. Slaughter is not careful, he could not only going to continue paying $120 for a part of a year, but $240 for a full year. Won’t we all be happy with his positions then!

  18. The policy (on it’s own individual merit) is not racist. If there is a racist under current associated with this policy; ….it would be on an individual level and thereby would be difficult to prove and easy to mute through dismissal. Historically people who embrace divisive ideologies prefer to spew their venom by creating policies while hiding behind the policies that they create. Racism is “low hanging fruit”. Having racists beliefs in America is not illegal. Discrimination….is very illegal; especially on the federal level. The expressed policies will always expose the covert motives of the policy creators. One could always judge the validity of a problem by examining the solution that is proposed. Exactly what problem is the parks department attempting to solve by extending a privilege to one group while denying the exact same privilege to another group?? When i say “privilege”….I mean “free parking”. I see discrimination. It is lawful for any parks department (or government) to set their own policies regarding public spaces….as long and they do not violate any local and/ or federal laws. What efforts have been made to present evidence that effectively supports the claim that non-residents are directly and EXCLUSIVELY responsible for the misuse or abuse of the park?? Such a claim is unjust, unsubstantiated and can be attributed to the personal preference of someone who insists on remaining in a perpetual state of complacency, in a world whose only constant is change. Discrimination is defined as: unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people. ***categories are in no specific order*** Category #1 Residents. Category #2 Non-Residents(also referred to as “Illinoisans”). The categorization of people in this policy leaves no room for speculation. Prejudicial behavior is always motivated by a bias or a preconceived opinion or belief about something or someone. The proposed policy charges (or penalizes) a specific group of people(who may or may not have abused the park) for a privilege that is free for another group. This is not a country club, nor is it private land. It is a park. Parks are public spaces. The fee for parking being applied to all residents and non-residents would ensure that the proposed policy is not discriminative. Historically discriminative policies have been created and implemented quite often because their is a collective expectation (from the policy makers)that the policies will not be resisted or legally challenged. Being an Illinois resident will never give someone the right to demonize you. Building a 200 acre public park and expecting only residents to use it is absurd. What is even more absurd…..is having a sense of entitlement(which would exempt “the entitled” from having to live in reality). Reality is the place where we share this world that involves a public that includes people who will behave in ways that are contrary to our own personal values. What is even more absurd is to consider that the creation of a policy (which is just a covert attempt to manipulate) could alter or prevent a change that is already in motion. The appropriate response to change…. is growth. The growth is needed to facilitate innovation in the face of a new challenge. The policies for the park need to be as beautiful as the park.

  19. The Eisenhower Center part of the Lan Oak Park District (which is a taxing body on your property tax bill) charges different rates for Lansing residents to use the facility versus non-Lansing residents using the facility. I have not heard any Lansing residents complaints about that, have you?

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