Long-Range Planning

Vision 2020 - Focus on the Future

Mission and vision statements are necessary to provide organizational direction. However, once these statements are written, how does an organization accomplish them and achieve its goals. In 2016-17, the Board of Park Commissioners and staff updated the District’s Comprehensive and Strategic Plans using a process which included gathering and reviewing community feedback, conducting demographic, park, facility, and program assessments, creating the community’s future vision of park and recreation services, and developing an action plan to implement that vision. By basing each Plan on community feedback and defining priorities, the Board can prepare for future community desires and needs along with clarifying organizational direction for focused mission and vision driven decision making. Since the inception of the District’s first Comprehensive Plan and Strategic Plan, the Board and staff have selected and implemented projects, programs, and initiatives based upon the priorities articulated during the planning process.

Development of Vision 2020 Plan

Overview: From fall 2016 to spring 2017, the Board and staff undertook the Vision 2020 process to update the District’s 2007 Comprehensive Plan and 2013-17 Strategic Plan. While a Comprehensive Plan and a Strategic Plan are unique in their purpose and scope, they have interrelated goals and development processes and, for this reason, the Board and staff developed both plans during one process and combined them into one, overall guiding document and action plan. As a result, the Vision 2020 Plan incorporates strategic planning initiatives, which are internal operation, communication, and administrative improvements with a three-year timeline and comprehensive planning initiatives, which are physical asset and program focused with a five to ten-year timeline.

Planning Process Phases: Organized into four phases as described below, the Vision 2020 planning process consisted of the following components: a needs assessment; visioning; identifying and evaluating community needs, priorities, and opportunities; and creating a phased implementation and financial plan.

Engage: The first phase included conversations with and input from a wide variety of community stakeholders and employee groups to gain an understanding of needs and priorities and to communicate the purpose of and how they could be actively engaged in the process. The forums for collecting feedback during this phase included community open houses, scientific and online surveys, focus groups, interviews, etc.

Analyze: During the second phase of the planning process, a comprehensive needs analysis was developed based on data collected about the District and the region, including an inventory and assessment of parks, open space, trails, recreation facilities, and program offerings along with demographic, recreation trends and level of service analyses.

Envision: During the third phase, the Board and staff created a shared long-term vision for the District based on the Engage and Analyze phases results, including reviewing the District’s mission and vision statements, creating organizational values, determining key findings, and developing strategic themes (broad macro-oriented statements of organizational direction) and goals (statements describing what the District must achieve to execute strategy) to address those findings. Alternative strategies for programming and for existing and new parks, facilities, and open spaces were evaluated and refined into a set of proposed strategies for implementing the strategic themes and goals.

Implement: In the final phase of the planning process, the Board and staff refined action items based on the near- and mid-term capital and operational strategies developed during the Envision phase. These action items (tactics) are specific programs, projects or actions outlined in a Five-year Strategy Action Matrix and one-year implementation plan to define what needs to be accomplished to address the strategic themes and goals and drive what specific actions will be undertaken to implement them.

Final Vision 2020 Plan and Strategic Action Plan

In July 2017, the Board approved the final Vision 2020 Plan document, which included a summary of the Vision 2020 feedback collected, needs assessment, and key findings and recommendations that will drive long-range planning for the next three to five-years. In August 2017, staff utilized the Five-year Strategy Action Matrix to develop cost ranges, timelines, staff responsibilities, and implementation goals for all of the tactics scheduled in the first year of the Plan. To report ongoing tracking of the implementation status of each tactic, the matrix also includes a column to report progress. This matrix became the District’s Strategic Work Plan, which is reviewed and updated annually to guide and track execution of long-range plans. Performance measures, tied to the strategic themes, are also tracked to assess progress on achieving overall Plan strategy. 

Below is a presentation on the Vision 2020 Process and Plan, which was given by The Lakota Group to the Board of Park Commissioners in June 2017.

Monitoring the Vision 2020 Plan

As part of the Park Board’s governance and to ensure that this Plan remains relevant and effective as a long-range planning tool and is responsive to the community’s changing needs, the Board and staff review the Strategic Work Plan annually so that it evolves based on ongoing shifts, opportunities, and challenges in the District’s operating, economic, and political environments. This review occurs prior to preparing the annual budget so that staff can evaluate the financial impact of each of the tactics and allocate the short and long-term resources needed to implement the Plan. Lastly, staff ensure that the annual Strategic Work Plan is aligned with the Vision 2020 Five-year Strategy Action Plan so that future long-range planning goals are considered for the coming year. In addition, the Board and staff monitor and report progress on the Strategic Work Plan bi-annually (in the Board’s Mid-year and Year-end Progress Reports) to track the status of the overall achievement of Plan Themes.  

Indoor Sports Facility Study

In March 2016, the Elmhurst Park District hired Convention Sports and Leisure International (CSL) to conduct an indoor sports facility feasibility study jointly with the City of Elmhurst.  The key goal of this study was to assess the viability of developing and operating a new indoor sports facility, which could potentially include aquatics, gymnasium space, turf and ice. The purpose of the study was to assess need, demand, current market conditions, projected revenues, and operational costs and information regarding current trends for indoor sports facilities. The firm collected extensive feedback from the Elmhurst sports community and potential stakeholders along with conducting an analysis of area demographics, an inventory of similar facilities and the facility’s potential economic impact.

In its final report, CSL presented the following three possible scenarios with financial forecasts: 

1. A facility with indoor hardwood courts, which would have the potential to generate an estimated annual profit of $149,000.
2. A larger facility housing both hardwood courts and indoor turf with an estimated annual profit of $270,000. 
3. An indoor ice arena containing two ice sheets with an estimated potential annual operating loss of about $202,000. 

Each of these financial scenarios is based on potential net income after four years of operation. CSL did report some demand for an indoor aquatics facility, but did not evaluate this scenario further since a competition-sized aquatic facility is in the planning stages in a nearby community.

CSL estimates that the construction cost to build one of these indoor facilities could range from $22.8 to $32.2 million and require a minimum of two acres of land, plus additional land for parking. These cost estimates include construction costs only and do not include the potential cost of property acquisition.

Several sources were listed as potential funding options, including partnering with private for-profit organizations or health care organizations and naming rights. CSL projects that the total financial impact for Elmhurst is between $11.9 to $16.5 million annually with direct and indirect user-spending, and the generation of up to 212 new full and part-time jobs.

The District will continue utilizing these findings to determine the next steps for pursuing an indoor sports facility as part of the Vision 2020 Plan implementation, including initiating discussions with potential partners, developing funding strategies, and looking for for prospective sites.

Below is a presentation on the Indoor Sports Facility Study Results, which was given by CSL to the Board of Park Commissioners in October 2016.