The public health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Park District operations and its ability to provide programs, facilities, and services to the community. These short-term effects will likely have long-term implications for the District and the Elmhurst community. Therefore, the Park Board is refocusing its current strategy to address the Vision 2020 large-scale project priorities identified by the community as high priorities. On March 30, 2020, it decided to stop planning for a potential referendum in November 2020 and is no longer pursuing the contingent based purchase of the 837 S. Riverside Drive property for the Indoor Sports Facility.
After this current situation stabilizes later this year and the long-term financial impacts are known, the Park Board and staff will consider new strategies to address 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 and continue the District’s mission of enriching lives while having fun.
However, due to dedicated outside funding, the District is able to begin projects in 2021 to increase green space and neighborhood parks and renovate a new facility for the new Adult Center. Planned capital projects include redevelopment work at Centennial Park, the District’s newest park. Dedicated last summer, the park is located at 155 E. St Charles Road. The District also plans to renovate the building on the site into an 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.
At 12,800 square feet, the building is roughly double the size of The Abbey, allowing for an expansion of adult programming, senior programming and offerings from community partners, such as the College of DuPage. Potential upgrades to the building include remodeling the restrooms for ADA compliance, improving signage, interior painting, completing exterior improvements to the roof and improving the site’s pavement and sidewalks. Renovation would begin this year and wrap-up in 2022.
Development of Centennial Park is also included in the District’s proposed budget. Developing the site would expand park offerings and the level of services provided to the neighborhood, improving equity across the community regarding access to park amenities. The project involves hiring the planning firm, Upland Design, to create a park master plan based on public feedback, along with the engineering, design and construction of site amenities. Amenities may include a playground if desired in the community feedback.
Another park to see upgrades in 2021 is Glos Memorial Park, which is located in the downtown area. In 2016, the District acquired 135 Palmer Drive, a building adjacent to Glos Memorial Park. This year, the goal is to demolish the building and parking lot, which are in poor condition, and return it to open space for the densely populated neighborhood. Other site improvements would be completed this year as well, based on public feedback.