Park District plans for future

By on January 1, 2009

by Susan O’Neill

            Local residents surveyed by the Sugar Grove Park District said that biking and walking trails are the recreational facilities most important to them.

            The Park District Board hired an outside firm, Leisure Vision, to find out what residents wanted from their park district and what recreational opportunities they value. Answers from the 301 survey respondents, input from community members and staff in a number of focus groups, as well as an independent evaluation of the condition of the parks will be used to create a Park District Master Plan.

            In addition to the biking and walking trails, an indoor fitness center, outdoor swimming pool, golf course and driving range and playgrounds were among the most-desired recreation facilities. Adult fitness and youth sports programs, swimming and golf lessons, and leagues and special events were the programs chosen most important.

            According to Sugar Grove Park District Director Greg Repede, the plan could be completed during the first quarter of 2009. However, that doesn’t mean the Park District will be taking on any major projects in the near term.

            “The problem we’re having is the same problem everyone else is having, enough money to pay for everything,” Repede said.

            The Park District’s tax rate is 14 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation, which Repede said is one-third to one-fourth the size of every other park district in Kane County.

            “We don’t generate tax dollars for capital improvement, but we do the best we can by working with the School District and the Community House,” Repede said. “Somewhere down the road, there is a need for a community center. But this isn’t the time to talk about a referendum.”

            Although the Sugar Grove Park District does not have the resources to provide these types of facilities for its residents, an agreement with the Fox Valley Park District allows Sugar Grove residents to use the Fox Valley facilities at the resident rate, a substantial savings. Nearly 70 percent of the people who answered the survey said this agreement is important to them.

            Park District Board President Kevin Johnson said the agreement with the Fox Valley District has worked out quite well. It allows Sugar Grove residents to access activities and facilities that Sugar Grove doesn’t have. Golfers have access to several golf courses within the Fox Valley District. Fitness enthusiasts have access to the Vaughan Athletic Center, with its many activities and equipment, including several swimming pools.

            Repede said the Sugar Grove Park District is limited in its funding, but he and the board members are always looking to expand programs in growth areas wherever possible.

            “Community growth is at a standstill,” Repede said. “Everyone is waiting for the housing market to turn around. Right now we’re in a holding pattern, but we will continue to look for cooperative things to meet the needs.”

            Johnson said they should have a better idea by the end of spring what the plan for the coming years will be. He said they have to determine what people want and what the population will support.