Park District: Residents use, enjoy recreation assets

Online Staff Report

The Rockford Park District Board of Commissioners received an annual report on participation at the district’s parks, programs, facilities, partners and museums during 2013. The report demonstrates the district’s achievement of its priority of residents being involved in diverse and well-supported recreational activities for their health, well-being and entertainment.

The commissioners placed precedence on services to teens, at-risk youth, and families, programs during summer and non-school times, introductory-level instruction in lifelong recreation skills, safety and security, and affordable and free activities that are accessible for all. This is achieved through partner-provided and direct program and service offerings.

According to Park District Executive Director Tim Dimke: “We are fortunate to have such great partners with whom to collaborate with in meeting resident’s recreational needs. These partnerships, along with strategies focused on service and continuous improvement, result in a high return on citizen’s investment and more people enjoying life.”

The Rockford Park District hosted 9,526,207 user visits to parks, facilities, programs and partners in 2013.

Significant areas of growth in ongoing programs include the following:

20,430 guests (up 54 percent) at Music in the Park Sinnissippi Park band shell concerts;

15,570 student golfers (up 153 percent) in the First Tee program, which grew from 18 to 36 schools participating;

13,000 participants in non-traditional offerings such as lacrosse, quidditch and ultimate Frisbee;

9,104 students (up 55 percent) served in the community outreach programs at Atwood Center;

6,468 riders (up 86 percent) riders on Trolley Car 36;

5,720 high school soccer players, in part because of the 41 new teams playing in leagues at Sportscore facilities;

3,063 participants (up 13 percent) in environmental education day programs at Atwood Center;

1,800 kids, supported by the annual Summer Challenge day program, a partnership with Rockford Public School District, Burpee Museum, Discovery Center and the Rockford Arts Council;

1,256 more kids participating in Youth Sports programs such as track and field, flag football, cheerleading, basketball, summer camp and outreach programs;

1,255 more adults participated in Therapeutic Recreation adapted sports programs; and

996 learn-to-skate students (up 18 percent) and 1,050 skaters in competitive skating and shows (up 83 percent).

Special event highlights include the following:

More than 43,000 participated in special events at Lockwood Park, including Animal Mania, Locktoberfest and a rodeo;

Approximately 8,500 competitors with their families attended the Ski Broncs Division 1 NSSA National Championship at Shorewood Park; and

Approximately 6,000 attended the ABA Midwest Nationals, where 1,000 professional and amateur competitors raced BMX bikes at Searls Park.

Park District Board President Tyler Smith said, “Growth in residents’ usage of the district’s diverse programs and amenities indicates achievement of the district’s priority of increasing resident’s health, well-being and entertainment.”

The district also made internal improvements contributing to gains in efficiency, cost savings and increased private funding, including the following:

$406,236 reduction in employee health care costs, thanks to a second year of wellness program health risk assessments;

$20,000 raised in the inaugural Rockford Park District Foundation Ties & Tennies fund-raiser to support legacy youth programs;

7,000-plus pages of print eliminated with the implementation electronic processing of human resource paperwork; and

6,980 admissions purchased (up 34 percent) through the district’s new and improved website, along with social media campaigns alleviating customer wait times for admission to Magic Waters Waterpark.

The entire Priority Result II report is available on the Park District’s website,

Posted April 24, 2014

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