Every parks and recreation business should routinely answer the question, "Are we providing the parks, facilities, and services that best suit our residents?"
Although the question sounds simple, getting the answer is a disciplined and systematic process that combines both scientific analysis of assets along with a clear understanding of the needs of Glencoe's residents. Under the direction of Heller and Heller Consulting Inc., a consulting team from Hitchcock Design Group, Williams Architects, and Leisure Vision, worked together to build the Glencoe Park District's Master Plan. Master Plans provide a framework for future decision making. The Park District's Master Plan will serve as a guide for decision making through the next decade. The goal of the Master Plan was to gain a consensus on preferred strategies and an implementation road map that is clear and attainable. The end result outlines steps to create places and systems that are not only more attractive and user-friendly, but are genuinely sustainable - not just environmentally, but functionally, culturally, and economically as well.
While the Plan contains multiple recommendations over a ten year period, significant follow up work will be required for various projects. For example, if a recommendation includes adding programming space, at the time the project is scheduled, the District will need to complete research to determine the feasibility of the project at that time. Just because a project is mentioned in the Action Plan, does not necessarily mean it will be completed. The determination of a project will be made close to the time it is due to start. The District will facilitate public input sessions for each of the significant projects. The Master Plan team recognizes that priorities and resources change throughout the years. As a result, each year the District will re-visit the Plan to determine if any changes in priorities are necessary.
To begin the study, Heller and Heller conducted a staff task force workshop to gain a detailed understanding of the vision and specific expectations. Initial inventories included a tour of the Park District's parks, facilities, operations, and a review of existing agency information and community demographics. Utilizing GIS technology, the team mapped existing assets and other related land-uses in order to identify surpluses and deficiencies within the community.
A series of workshops, focus groups, and interviews were conducted with more than 75 Board members, staff, key leaders, stakeholders, community organizations, and residents participating. An online portal, titled re|creation, elicited ideas and feedback from 400 internet users. A statistically valid household survey was sent to a random sample of 2,000 Glencoe households and earned a 22% response rate.
The team defined multiple, non-prioritized categorical options and reached a consensus on what to develop further. During this phase, the team conducted an internal planning charrette and synthesize all the data gathered to date against planning objectives. The team also worked together to develop a new mission, vision, and values statement for the Park District.
Final Master Plan
The comprehensive Master Plan, which was presented at the Board's March 17 meeting, includes refined recommendations by category for the Park District as well as specific recommendations for Facilities, Existing Parks and Open Space, Trail Corridors, Park Maintenance, Administration and Operations, and fundraising. The plan includes recommendation of short term, intermediate, and long range projects, as well as a ten-year action plan. The plan contains the following chapters and was approved the Board of Commissioners at their April 21 meeting:
Chapter One: Introduction
The introduction provides an overview of the Glencoe Park District by summarizing the geographic, historic, demographic, organizational, and financial profiles of the District. Other relevant planning documents used during the development of this plan are also referenced in the introduction.
Chapter Two: Operations Assessment
Chapter Two provides an overview of the newly created mission, vision, and values of the Glencoe Park District. It also includes a brief summary of the Operations Assessment process and outcome.
Chapter Three: Assess: Inventory & Analysis
Chapter Three provides a detailed inventory of all parkland, open space, District facilities, schools, trails and relevant adjacent land uses. All District park assets are classified and quantified based on standards, size, location, and amenities. Chapter Three also documents the level of service, equity mapping, and facility needs analysis. A park inventory catalogs observations on context, natural features, site characteristics, users, and programs. The facility inventory catalogs individual indoor facilities, documenting observations on each building’s site and facility conditions, code compliance, programming and users.
Chapter Four: Connect: Needs Assessment & Community Engagement
Chapter Four documents national, state, and local trends in parks and recreation. Results from the 2014 Community-Wide Needs Assessment Survey, focus group meetings, community meetings, and Board of Commissioners and staff workshops are summarized.
Chapter Five: Envision: Alternative Strategies
Chapter Five identifies issues, concerns, or opportunities that arose during the previous two planning phases along with the justification or support information for those issues, concerns, or opportunities. Strategies for demographics, parks and open space, and facilities are outlined.
Chapter Six: Prioritize: Preferred Strategies
Chapter Six identifies specific projects and improvements for parks & open space, trails, and facilities.
Chapter Seven: Plan: Action Plan
Chapter Seven identifies action items directly related to the preferred strategies and determines policy, funding, acquisition, master planning, design, construction, and programming priorities for the next ten years. Deadlines for grants and other applicable funding sources are noted in the action plan timeline.
Chapter Eight: Appendix
Contains raw information from the community needs assessment, and excerpts from other planning documents.