Residents have exceptional parks and services at reasonable cost

Staff Report

The Rockford Park District Board of Commissioners received an annual report regarding parks and recreational facilities, services and programs provided to residents at a reasonable cost.

According to Executive Director Tim Dimke: “We continue to leverage available tax resources with a variety of other means, such as donations, grants, strategic partnerships, and sponsorships for any future growth or expansion opportunities. As a result of our efforts to leverage resources, we seek ways to reduce costs, aggressively pursue alternate revenues, increase strategic partnerships, and use volunteers in many creative ways. The array of services and recreational offerings available to residents continues to make Rockford Park District recognized as one of the nation’s best park districts, as evidenced by being named a National Gold Medal Finalist for the second year in a row.”

Highlights of how services were leveraged and demonstrated results included the following:

2011 revenue (donations, pledges, lease income, investments) total $4,828,151 as compared to total revenue for 2010 of $4,373,565.

The use of volunteers increased, with 3,283 volunteers contributing 36,659.25 hours of service, saving the district $302,438.81 in wages. This is an increase of 102 volunteers, or a 3 percent increase in people giving their time. The increase of 5,920.75 hours is a 19 percent increase. The additional saving of $25,907.93 is a 9 percent increase.

Summer Challenge was a new partnership endeavor with the Rockford School District, which contracted with the Park District to register more than 2,200 participants in grades K-8. The free summer programs were offered at five grade schools and one middle school, with a daily average attendance of 1,500. The program provided youth tutoring in reading and math, and enrichment activities including journaling, science, art and sports activities.

The Junior IceHogs Training Facility is in its third year of operation, and continues to grow in popularity with the hockey community. Participation increased from 14,015 visitors in 2010 to 16,788 visitors in 2011. The facility is also being utilized by more out-of-town teams, in addition to Rockford Hockey Club participants, which is attributed to the 19 percent increase in use.

Rockford City Market partnered with the Park District to offer rides on Trolley Car 36 to more than 500 patrons on Friday evenings, June through August. This event encourages area residents to come to downtown Rockford and enjoy the many restaurants, vendors and activities the area has to offer.

The Forest City Queen became the official Water Taxi for the On the Waterfront Festival in September, with 392 passengers enjoying one-way trips down the river to the festival.

BMO Harris Winter Wonderland at Davis Park, a partnership of R.A.V.E. and the City of Rockford, brought in 3,762 patrons during the winter months, compared to 3,148 patrons in 2010.

The entire 16-page report is available on the district’s website,

For info, contact Dimke, at (815) 987-8800, or e-mail

From the July 11-17, 2012, issue

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