A strategic plan is essential to the success of any organization. It drives long-range planning, directs decision-making, and assists with allocating resources. And in the case of the Elmhurst Park District, it can also be award-winning!
In 2016, the Board of Park Commissioners and staff set out to update the District’s Comprehensive and Strategic Plans. The project was dubbed “Vision 2020” as a nod to the District’s approaching 100th anniversary in the year 2020 and as a reference to “20/20”, having a clear vision of what’s in front of you.
Under the leadership and guidance of the District’s Board of Commissioners and administrative staff, the Vision 2020 planning team was led by The Lakota Group, a team of landscape architects who have been recognized for their work in planning, urban design, landscape architecture, historic preservation and community engagement. The team also included representatives from Dewberry Architects, Primera Engineers, PROS Consulting, Recreation Results, and ETC Institute.
The project included gathering and reviewing community feedback; conducting demographic, park, facility, and program assessments; creating the community’s future vision of park and recreation services in Elmhurst; and ultimately developing an action plan to implement that vision. Nearly 3,000 customer touchpoints were achieved during the process through online surveys, a statistically-valid survey, the project website, open houses, focus groups, and interviews. Residents had a prime opportunity to engage with the District throughout the process.
“The plan that emerged provided a foundation for establishing consensus on important community priorities,” said Cassandra Rice, Certified Landscape Architect Associate with The Lakota Group and project manager for Vision 2020, “It engaged the community, successfully transforming their vision into something tangible.”
Each year, the Illinois Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects celebrates the work of firms such as The Lakota Group in design, communication, planning and analysis, and research, and at their April 20 “Celebrate” event, the Vision 2020 plan received an ASLA Honor Award, a distinction given to only 20% of entries. Entries are judged on design, communications, planning and analysis, and research. The jury evaluated projects with consideration for quality and functionality of the design, relationship to context and stated program, environmental responsibility, and relevance to the profession, the public and the environment.
As the plan is being rolled out in 2018, the Board and staff have put a strong emphasis on addressing the community feedback obtained throughout the process. The goals and priorities set forth by the plan will allow the District to step into the future based on the desires and needs of residents.
“We are very pleased that the Vision 2020 Plan has been recognized in a way that reflects the tremendous amount of input the community provided,” said Elmhurst Park District Executive Director Jim Rogers, “That feedback will be essential to help set the future priorities of the Park District.”