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Elmhurst Park District mulling future direction after completing Vision 2020 community survey

Published: Monday, March 20, 2017 9:45 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, March 23, 2017 12:19 a.m. CDT
(Photo provided)
A patron enjoys a workout at the Elmhurst Park District's Courts Plus Facility. In the recent Vision 2020 survey, residents of the district said they wanted more indoor workout and activity space among other priorities, as well as a potential willingness to pay for improvements.

ELMHURST – The Elmhurst Park District could be putting more of an emphasis on adult programs as it looks to revamp its services and facilities.

As the district updates both its comprehensive and strategic plans, it has reached out to the community for what residents want going forward.

With both the district's 10-year comprehensive plan and five-year strategic plan concluding at the end of this year, district officials felt it was time to look to the future and opted to create Vision 2020, combining both the concepts of 20/20 vision and the Park District's 100th anniversary in 2020.

Responses, thus far, have included more adult fitness and wellness programs and continuing education classes, said Jim Rogers, executive director of the Park District.

"We may need more focus on adults," Rogers said, commenting on a survey of more than 675 residents taken as part of the Park District's Vision 2020 program. "We are very strong in youth and children's programs."

The four-phase process has just completed the first step – engaging the community.

Laura Guttman, the Park District's strategy and planning coordinator managing the Vision 2020 program, said a community survey was driving the next phase – action planning by staff.

Guttman said goals for the district should be completed by staff by the end of May and presented to park board members in June. The Park District targeted 328 community residents in a scientific survey and another 350 people gave their input via the Vision 2020 website.

Rogers said the survey results show that residents are happy with the Park District facilities overall. He said that 97 percent of survey respondents rated conditions at Park District facilities as “good or excellent.”

He added that 45 percent of respondents said they had taken part in a Park District program within the past 12 months.

Both numbers, he said, are well above the national average, meaning the district was meeting the needs residents have.

Rogers said survey results said residents desired more adult programs, more indoor fitness facilities, walking and biking trails, dog parks and indoor gym space.

Although creating new parks in the landlocked community is unlikely, Rogers said, the Park District has been able to expand existing parks and will look to continue to do so.

The executive director noted that the Park District has an intergovernmental agreement with Elmhurst School District 205 sharing indoor and outdoor spaces, and the district was looking to increase more indoor opportunities with more partnerships or expanding existing buildings.

District 205 is going through a similar planning process and its improvement plan seems destined for a referendum, but Rogers said the School District is farther along in the process than the Park District is and that it is "too early to say" whether any park facility or program improvements would require additional tax dollars.

He did note, however, that the subject was broached on the Vision 2020 survey and responses were "very positive."

"We are not at a point of making a decision, but the position of people generally was a positive response to paying (for more programs and facilities)," Rogers said.

Guttman said residents can still provide their feedback on what they want by going to the Vision 2020 website, and a forum will held in early May to provide residents with information about the survey results.

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