At its Regular Meeting of the Sycamore Park District Board of Commissioners, the five member board voted unanimously on September 22 to ask the citizens of the park district to support its long range plan – know as VISION 20/20. That question will appear on the Novermber 4th ballot, and the Board encourages citizens to learn more about it by watching a video here www.youtube.com/SycamoreParks or finding the written plan online at the park district’s website.
Earlier this year, the Sycamore Park District unveiled the accomplishment of the FIRST of TEN Critical Success Factors in its plans for their future. Outlined in VISION 20/20 – the district’s Long-Range Plan – the Success Factor was critical to accomplishing much of the other nine factors. The park district acquired about 25 acres adjacent to the Sports Complex on Airport Road to site a community center, dog park, a splashpad, and a sled hill. This “CAMPUS”, as the planning committees and Board came to know it, would be the focal point of the TEN Critical Success Factors, which are:
- Maintain what we currently have at its current level of care.
- Continue to seek and carry out more efficient and effective ways of managing the park district to improve our financial position.
- Serve as good stewards of our citizens’ resources in order to garner trust and support for VISION 20/20.
- Secure a seasonable site, outside the floodplain, that can serve as a focal point for future park amenities.
- Establish the key facilities identified by public input and the community wide strategic planning team:
- Keep the current outdoor pool open as long as fiscally responsible.
- Continue to work with the City and Neighborhoods to transition park dedications in developing neighborhoods.
- Further develop our already substantial cooperation / partnership within the community.
- Work toward being the most recognized provider of recreation opportunities in Sycamore.
- Grow the district’s endowment and define how its proceeds will be used.
Ann Tucker, Sycamore Park District Board Treasurer said:
“We plan to fund the 20/20 Vision through a variety of initiatives. 1/3rd of those dollars will come from outside sources. The Park Board has applied for grants for the Community Center and trails system. We will be soliciting private donations and sponsorships, and we will be asking stakeholders to assist with fundraising. And yes, Vision 20/20 will require some additional dollars.”
That additional amount – about $7.61 a month for the median home in Sycamore, will have to come from citizen support of a referendum.
Commissioner Bill Kroeger noted that the amount the median household in Sycamore Park District will be asked to support in the referendum is: “25 cents a day: Less than a pack of gum. Less than a can of pop. If you look at your Cell phone service, cable, or a fast food meal for children, those expenses dwarf the small investment the park district will ask voters to make in their parks and recreation.”
Over the past 18 months, the Sycamore Park District has integrated extensive public input into developing its long-term plan, know as Vision 20/20.
In a statistically accurate, community-wide survey of Sycamore Park District residents, conducted by an independent survey firm, residents indicated that the park district’s top three priorities should be:
- Improving our existing parks
- Developing walking and biking trails
- Building a new community center
Additionally, citizens indicated support of these matters if they could be kept below $10 per month for the average tax payer.
“This target of less than $10 per month is one I believed in very strongly,” said Board President, Ted Strack. “We know that times have been tough in recent years, and the Sycamore Park District has worked very hard to cut costs, balance its stressed budget, find efficiencies in operation, and do things in a better way. Nonetheless, we have not kept up with Sycamore’s growth and our citizens are telling us this is what is needed. We do not have sales tax revenues as a source of funds available to us, so we need to ask our citizens to support this referendum. I hope they will,” said Strack.
The core services and facilities our citizens told us they need are basic in most communities, but all of these are major challenges for the park district, and called for careful planning. Toward that end, the Board of Commissioners of SPD took direction from a number of sources. Besides they survey in 2011, the District invited 21 Community Leaders and Citizens of all ages and from public and private sectors (business leaders and citizens of all ages) to serve on its Community Wide Strategic Planning Team (CWSPT).
These individuals studied the district’s budget, the 2011 survey results, the assessments conducted by the district’s Citizens Advisory Committee on Recreation Programming visited all of the districts parks and facilities, and queried their friends and neighbors. The CWSPT of the Sycamore Park District met for 10 months to develop three scenarios for how the park district might address its pressing issues. These three scenarios were presented to the district’s Board of Commissioners for their use in determining a framework for “VISION 20/20” – its strategic plan for 2015 through 2010.
After the Board of Commissioners DRAFTED a tentative plan, it conducted considerable additional public input before finalizing Vision 20/20. That additional public input included:
- Two Public Hearings
- Meetings with the park district’s Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC)
- Review by the Oridginal Community-Wide Strategic Planning Team (CWSPT)
- AND a Follow-Up Community Wide Survey late last year.
Sycamore Park District Board Vice President, Michelle Schulz, said, “The Sycamore Park District Board has planned carefully for the fulfillment of Vision 20/20. The plan accommodates our city’s growth. It will create jobs, bring visitors and businesses to our town, and provide safe, healthy recreation for our children. Having these resources in Sycamore will save our citizens form having to travel elsewhere to fulfill their recreational needs.”
Commissioner Daryl Graves said he “hopes that the citizens of Sycamore will help us make this investment in the Sycamore of today, and for the Sycamore of tomorrow.”
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