Based on community input, six large scale projects were identified as high priorities: building a new Indoor Sports Facility; constructing a new Adult Center; replacing the Wagner Community Center and Eldridge Park Recreation Building; developing a Dog Park (at 0S761 Old York Road); Acquiring Open Space in identified neighborhoods lacking parks; and Improving the Maintenance and Condition of all Parks.
Based on the potential costs and the Park District’s available budget, additional funding will be necessary for the projects identified as community priorities. The Park District has determined what it might cost to provide the facilities and amenities the community wants and conducted a survey of registered voters in October 2019 to see the level of support for a referendum to fund these projects. The results of the survey illustrated that voters do not support a tax increase to cover the total cost proposed for all of the projects. Based on this input, the Park Board decided not to continue with a potential referendum in March 2020 and include the $57 million Indoor Sports Facility project in any potential future referendum.
In early 2020, the Park Board and staff continued to review and refine project plans and cost/funding options based on the District’s long-term financial picture, needs assessment data, Vision 2020 community and voter surveys results, and focus groups held in early March 2020. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Park Board refocused its funding strategy at its March 30, 2020 meeting by stopping planning for a potential referendum in November 2020 and pursuing the contingent based purchase of the 837 S. Riverside Drive property.
Due to dedicated outside funding, the District was able to begin smaller projects in 2021 to increase green space and neighborhood parks and renovate the new Adult Center facility. The District started redevelopment work at Centennial Park, the District’s newest park, based on the master plan approved by the Park Board, which reflects community input. Dedicated in 2020, the park is located at 155 E. St Charles Road. The District is also currently renovating the building on the site to become the new Adult Center, which the Vision 2020 process found to be a key need in the community. Those plans included both acquiring the 155 E. St. Charles Road facility and selling The Abbey to Elmhurst School District #205. These projects will be completed in 2022.
Another park to see upgrades in 2021 is Glos Park, which is located in the downtown area. In 2016, the District acquired 135 Palmer Drive, a building adjacent to Glos Park. In 2021, the District demolished the building and parking lot, which were in poor condition, and returned it to open space for the densely populated neighborhood. Other site improvements will be completed this year as well based on the master plan approved by the Park Board, which reflects community input.
Funding for the Centennial Park and Adult Center projects is primarily from the $1,600,000 sale of The Abbey Senior Center to Elmhurst School District #205 while previously received developer donations is funding the 135 Palmer Drive demolition and site improvements at Glos Park.
In 2022, the Park Board and staff will consider new financial strategies to address remaining large-scale project priorities. The District will continue gathering community feedback to ensure that the community’s future parks and recreation needs are met in a fiscally responsible and sustainable manner. The Park Board will be transparent with the community on the next steps that it will take to move Vision 2020 priorities forward.
For more information about these projects click here and here.