Elmhurst Park District expands staffing

  • Staff at Elmhurst Park District

The pandemic took a toll on a lot of businesses, and the Elmhurst Park District was no different. Due to a $6 million loss of revenue in 2020 and a lack of work for various departments due to mandated shutdowns, a number of positions had to be eliminated. But as the country has now come out of the pandemic and residents locally flock to programs and events, the District has budgeted to add several new positions that will help grow programs and allow staff to better manage parks and facilities. 

In the recreation department, the retirement of Director of Recreation Cindy Szkolka in 2022 allowed for the promotion of Sarah Lagesse, the District’s Division Manager of Facilities. Lagesse was with the District from 2009-2014 before taking an Assistant Director of Recreation role with another District. She then returned to the Elmhurst Park District in 2017 to run the pools and The Hub, and upon Szkolka’s retirement, was an ideal candidate for the role of Director of Recreation. 

Lagesse has paid close attention to feedback from residents who desire more programs following record waitlists. Coupled with limited facility space and a challenging staffing environment, Lagesse and the recreation staff have had to think outside the box to try to expand programming. In 2023, residents can expect to see more evening and weekend early childhood options, a four-day preschool option at Courts Plus, a new teen camp, and a new Turf & Surf camp that will utilize the parks and pools rather than indoor facility space. Safety Town will also be open to the public more frequently. 

With more offerings on the horizon, additional program supervision will be needed. In order to address the community’s desires, two Division Manager of Recreation positions were created and filled with internal candidates. Jessica Marquez, program supervisor in charge of preschool and early childhood, was promoted to oversee expanded recreation programming while Ashley Pratscher, Community Events & Development Supervisor, was promoted to oversee aquatics, The Hub, and gymnastics programs. 

In 2022, the District opened a new facility called the Centennial Recreation Center, which is home to adult and senior programming. As facility space expands, two new full-time positions are being added in 2023. One position will be custodial and the other will assist with pool and building maintenance. The two positions will help ensure that all facilities are adequately staffed and meeting customer service expectations. Both positions are currently posted at epd.org/jobs.

During the District’s strategic planning process in 2017, the community expressed an interest in improved park maintenance. While the pandemic put a halt on hiring new positions within the parks department, internal staffing shifts were made in an effort to improve maintenance within the District’s limited means. Looking toward the future into 2023, two new full-time positions are being added to the parks department. A Park Specialist III (Athletic Crew leader) will supervise all areas of the athletic field maintenance, which includes coordinating the day to day duties of two full-time staff and three seasonal staff. A full-time Park Specialist II will perform a variety of park maintenance tasks, including trash collection, tree and landscape bed mulching, and assisting with special projects. Both positions are currently posted.

As the Park District continues to grow and expand, Director of Parks Dan Payne has been promoted to Assistant Director while also retaining his current responsibilities. In the new position, Payne will work side by side with Executive Director Jim Rogers on the District’s strategic plan priorities, serve as a sounding board for members of the management team, and over time, take on some day-to-day responsibilities to allow Rogers to focus on longer term projects. 

For more information about available positions, please visit epd.org/jobs.