Rockford Park District Identifies Need for Master Plan
ROCKFORD, IL – Last night, the Rockford Park District Board of Commissioners received a preliminary 2018 budget that includes operational changes, along with revenue and expense reductions to eliminate a $1 million deficit.
Since 2009, the District has made $8.4 million in budget reductions. With declining revenue both through fees and a declining tax base, along with population and demographic shifts, it is becoming extremely difficult to provide the same level of service without an increase in new revenue or a decrease in the Park District’s footprint.
Rockford Park District’s Board of Commissioners and Executive Director Jay Sandine discussed last night and are proceeding with a community involved master plan. A master plan would complement the District’s annual strategic plan, and provide a series of recommendations that will help guide investment in District assets, along with decisions regarding obsolete, underutilized, or non-trending parks, facilities, and amenities. “This is a critical step for the Park District that will ensure that we are meeting community needs and aligning recreational trends. We want the community to help guide our future and determine which recreational assets are most important,” said Board of Commissioners President Ian Linnabary.
Currently, the District maintains 4,962 acres of land, and has 179 different parks and facilities. A master plan will provide an opportunity for the District to engage and inform the community on the true value of parks and recreation, receive critical feedback to determine priorities of park services, and ensure the District’s plan connects with other community leaders and organizations. “Our community should be dictating what the Park District looks like going forward so we are excited to engage our community and discuss the District’s future. It is also very important that the District’s master plan and vision aligns with the vision of other community leaders and organizations and become even more interconnected,” said Rockford Park District Executive Director Jay Sandine.
Steps to complete a master plan will include community input sessions and establishing a team of community volunteers to review the community’s recommendations. A final master plan is expected to be presented to the community in the summer of 2018.