Elmhurst Park District to conduct voter survey to gauge support for potential referendum

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The Elmhurst Park District is launching a voter survey aimed at assessing the interest in a potential referendum for a new Wagner Community Center and new outdoor amenities, including a bandshell in Wilder Park, year-round heated restroom buildings at four locations, and converting a grass field to artificial turf at Berens Park. The Park Board unanimously approved moving forward with the survey at their meeting on Monday, April 22, which will be administered to a random sample of registered voters by aQity Research. This initiative stems from the feedback received during the development of the Elevate Elmhurst Parks strategic and comprehensive planning process in 2023.

The Elevate Elmhurst Parks plan, crafted after extensive community input, outlines six key priorities: invigorated parks, vibrant facilities, dynamic offerings, engaged community, stronger finances, and thriving culture. Among the recurring themes in the feedback was the pressing need for modern indoor recreation spaces, a sentiment echoed by Park Board President, Kevin Graf. 

“Most of the District’s indoor facilities are more than 50 years old and have been repurposed to accommodate the community's recreational needs. The demand for indoor amenities like walking tracks, gymnasiums, and artificial turf continues to be a top priority. The District lacks these amenities presently, and we’ve observed a substantial increase in program registrations along with lengthy waitlists,” Graf said.

Addressing the community's priorities as outlined in the Elevate Elmhurst Parks plan, the District also aims to construct a bandshell in Wilder Park, year-round heated restroom buildings at four locations, and convert a grass field to turf at Berens Park. The focal point of this endeavor though lies in the potential replacement of the aging Wagner Community Center, envisioned to offer expanded programming and facility space, including the possibility of a free indoor walking track; gymnasiums for pickleball, basketball, and volleyball; artificial turf field for football, lacrosse, soccer and other sports; larger gymnastics space; larger dance studios; early childhood classrooms; indoor play area; and more multi-purpose rooms that could be used to address demand for programs and reduce waitlists in addition to providing community meeting spaces.

However, the realization of these aspirations hinges on the community’s willingness to fund them. Despite being lauded for its financial stewardship, with consecutive accolades including the Government Finance Officers Association’s Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting and the GFOA Distinguished Budget Presentation Award, the District faces the challenge of meeting escalating community demands with limited financial resources. With a property tax rate comprising only a nickel of every dollar, the District has one of the lowest rates as compared to other park districts in DuPage County.

As the District embarks on this journey to shape the future of recreational amenities in the community, the forthcoming voter survey stands as a pivotal opportunity for recipients to voice their opinions and contribute to the realization of a vibrant and dynamic park system for current and future generations. Residents will also have various opportunities to learn more about the presented plans at upcoming Open Houses on April 29 at Courts Plus, April 30 at the Kies Recreation Center and May 2 at Wagner Community Center. 

In addition to the forthcoming voter survey and upcoming Open Houses, the District has taken proactive steps to ensure thorough community engagement in the development of its plans. Recognizing the importance of diverse perspectives, the District has established an Elevate Advisory Committee comprising nearly 20 members of the community. Representing a wide array of community organizations, local businesses, and demographics, this committee diligently reviewed the community’s priorities and proposed plans, offering invaluable feedback to both the Board and staff. Subsequently, plans were revised based on their insights and recommendations. This collaborative effort underscores the District's commitment to inclusivity and responsiveness, ensuring that the proposed initiatives align closely with the needs and aspirations of the community.

To learn more about this initiative and get more details on the open houses, please visit Elevate Elmhurst Parks

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