Park Board president says district busy with many projects

<p>File photo.</p>

File photo.

The state of the Naperville Park District is good, Park Board President Rich Janor said Saturday morning.

Janor delivered the fourth annual State of the Park District address to about 50 people at the Alfred Rubin Community Center in Naperville.

“Residents receive an excellent value for their money,” he said, noting that the dollar amount charged each year for a property owner with a home valued at $300,000 was $315, or a $9 dollar increase over the previous year and $21 more than in 2010.

The increase is only partly a result of the planned Activity Center, the subject of several open houses in January and among the most prominent initiatives for the district in 2014.

Looking to fill a need for indoor activity space, the district purchased property at Quincy Avenue and Fort Hill Drive. The footprint of the new facility will be 80,000 square feet and total costs, including the price of the property, will be no more than $23 million.

Among the possible uses for the facility will be basketball/volleyball courts, a jogging track, gymnastics area, cardio fitness area, racquetball courts, group dance and fitness area, meeting rooms and preschool space.

Whatever eventually winds up in the facility, the district plans to have it open for use by early 2016.

Janor expects to have a firm working concept of what will go in the new center by the end of 2014.

“We need some time to synthesize people’s responses,” he said.

Janor emphasized the Park District’s accomplishments during 2013. Besides the purchase of the land for the Activity Center, the district completed its strategic plan for 2014-2016, launched a new website, installed new synthetic turf at Commissioner’s Park, broke ground for the Knoch Knolls Nature Center and completed several playground renovations and projects.

Other highlights were being recognized by the American Institute of Architects for the Seager Park Interpretive Center and a transparency award from the Illinois Policy Institute.

Grants and sponsorships in 2013 included a $400,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for the Knoch Knolls Nature Center and a $19,000 grant for solar panels for the Nike Sports Complex.

Setbacks, both related to weather, included a falloff in activity at the district’s two golf courses and lower season pass sales at Centennial Beach.

Janor stressed that the golf courses still finished the year on the positive side of the financial ledger.

With Naperville’s growth into the largest community in DuPage County, and one that stretches south into Will County, a challenge for the Park District has been meeting the needs of residents in all geographic areas.

“Residents are spread out,” Janor said. “That’s been one of the key considerations (of planning).”

At the event, Janor was asked if anything could be done to provide more horseshoe pits on district property.

Janor referred the question to Director of Recreation Brad Wilson, who said, “We can certainly look at them.”