DeKalb Park District discusses 5-year master plan at open house

By Dave Gong

Cindy Capek, DeKalb County Park District executive director, said she was disappointed with the turnout at the park district open house,

The DeKalb County Park District discussed its five-year master plan at an open house Tuesday evening at Hopkins Park Community Center.

The turnout consisted of five DeKalb residents, including former 3rd Ward Alderman Pam Verbic and 5th Ward Alderman Ron Naylor.

Steve Halberg, senior consultant for Planning Resources Wheaton, who led the meeting, said the purpose of the open house was to create a comprehensive park and outdoor open space master plan.

“As part of the process, we are engaging focus groups, the general public and this open house where we’re just gathering information,” Halberg said.

Capek said one of the benefits of a master plan is that a district is better positioned to receive grant money from the state.

“It allows you to double the amount of money,” Capek said.

Capek said the purpose of a master plan is to help the district plan for the future, instead of reacting to annual issues.

“It’s better planning for the community,” Capek said. “Public input is really important.”

“It’s sort of like seeing the forest for the trees,” Halberg said.

One of the questions asked to focus groups pertained to how well the DeKalb Park District has been meeting its mission statement.

According to the DeKalb Park District website, “The DeKalb Park District’s mission is to provide diverse, high quality, active and passive recreational facilities and services to the residents of DeKalb.”

Halberg said there have been a variety of responses to how well the park district has met its mission statement.

Halberg said the master planning process is going to take through early December, after which a presentation will be made to the park board.

“As a part of that process, we are visiting all the parks and eight of the district’s facilities and inventorying that information,” Halberg said. “We will be making recommendations on the parks and kinds of activities that could possibly best fit on the individual sites.”

Halberg said Planning Resources will also be looking at national and state standards for activities and amenities for parks.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has provided a per capita standard for activities and amenities in public parks, he said.

DeKalb resident Erin Grych said she would like to see an indoor park that would have facilities and activities available for multiple age groups.