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Sycamore Park District continues long-term planning

Published: Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
(Rob Winner – rwinner@shawmedia.com)
Sycamore resident Rich Barnes works out on a recumbent exercise bike Thursday at the Sycamore Park District Community Center.

SYCAMORE – Sycamore Park District leaders expect to make the final tweaks in the coming weeks to their long-term plans to improve the district. 

Last year, district officials set out to address several issues affecting the park district such as the golf course losing money, growing deficits and an absence of long-term planning. They developed a short-term plan to resolve immediate issues and a long-term plan – dubbed Vision 2020 – to make other improvements starting in 2015. 

The park commissioners anticipate adopting that long-term plan at their next regular meeting Dec. 17, which comes after gathering public input through several public hearings and community surveys. 

"We're coming to a final direction on where we're going to head based on all the information collected and what the community wants," said Ted Strack, board president. 

Dan Gibble, the district's executive director, said the issues the Vision 2020 plan addresses include improvements to roads, roofs, pavilions and playgrounds. The plan also addresses the needs of the Community Center, parking in the Sports Complex and park trails. 

Strack said that while the survey results showed people responded favorably to the Vision 2020 plan, they were not as supportive of increased spending that might be needed. 

"The community is behind the ideas, but the community struggles with funding it," he said. 

He said that response is not troubling, because board members plan to do what the community wants. During the next study session with board members Wednesday, the members plan to have more discussions about the preliminary findings of the latest survey.

At a public hearing in November, Gibble said district officials heard comments about connecting the park trails and the potential creation of a dog park. Other comments were related to the question of improving the needs of the Community Center or the pool.  

Gibble said the core of the short-term plan was to improve the park district's financial position, which it has accomplished. They've cut costs in utilities, liabilities and staffing, he said. 

"The three or four existing things we've done is turned the golf course from operating in the red to operating the black," Gibble said. "We've paid down our deficit. We're beginning to build reserves."

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