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Park Districts

The recreational needs of the residents of Mount Prospect are served by five different park districts, depending upon where one lives within the Village.

The majority of residents are split between the two primary districts, both of which celebrated major anniversaries during 2015. The Mt. Prospect Park District serves 17,755 households within the Village while the River Trails Park District serves 4,639 Mount Prospect households. Together, they cover 92.5 percent of the Village.

The Mt. Prospect Park District was founded in 1955 and the River Trails Park District was founded a decade later, in 1965.

Over the years, both districts continually grew and offered more and more facilities and programs to their residents.

At the Mt. Prospect Park District, highlights included the opening of Lions Park pool in August, 1956; the purchase of the Mt. Prospect Country Club in 1961; the opening of Kopp Park and pool in 1966; the consolidation of the Mt. Prospect Park District and the Prospect Meadows Park District in 1975; the leasing agreement for Metro Majewski Athletic Complex in 1981; the conversion of Lions Park pool into Big Surf Wave Pool in 1984; the opening of Friendship Park Conservatory in 1988; the opening of RecPlex in 1991; and the opening of the Central Community Center with its inline skating rink in 2001.

At the north end of town the River Trails Park District was equally busy. Their meteoric growth was highlighted by the approval of an $850,000 bond which allowed them to buy five parks in 1966; the commencement of programming like square dancing, arts and crafts, folk guitar lessons, basketball and volleyball originally held at the District 26 schools and at Grace Lutheran Church; the construction of administrative offices at Burning Bush Park in 1969; the opening of Woodland Trails pool in 1970; the annexation of the Tamarack, Aspen Trails and Burning Bush subdivisions into the park district in 1971; the construction of the Weiss Community Center in 1987; and the purchase of Rob Roy Golf Course in 1989.

In order to ensure that residents and other participants take full advantage of each district’s parks and other facilities, staff and board members are studying their facilities and evaluating how they are responding to the constantly evolving needs of the community.

Facilities that may have thrilled the Mount Prospect residents of the 1980s may no longer be satisfying the needs of today’s residents. It is important that park district officials continue to re-evaluate how they are using their facilities.

The Mt. Prospect Park District, for instance, recently re-opened its Mt. Prospect Golf Club golf course after an $8.6 million renovation that had it closed for over 13 months.

“We have returned the course to more of its true essence and original configuration,” explained Brian Taylor, director of recreation. “Over time the course had been altered with greens getting smaller and trees over taking a lot of the original design. All of the underground infrastructure was replaced and the top was regressed and enhanced to more of the classic design of an almost century old golf club.”

The driving range, putting green and chipping range have also been grouped together to encourage families and those new to golf to go out and practice.

Next on the list of renovations is the Big Surf Wave Pool. They are currently conducting studies to determine the best future for the facility. Whatever is decided, Taylor expects that the rehabilitation work will be done during 2018.

In the meantime, the Mt. Prospect Park District is concentrating on becoming an even bigger part of the life of the Mount Prospect community. They held their first National Night Out at Lions Park in August and co-sponsored the return of a 5K race called the “5KBC” through Kensington Business Center in September.

“Our mission is to have a positive impact on the community and add to the quality of life of residents from infancy to retirement through our pools, open spaces, well-established programming and workout and sports facilities,” Taylor stated.

The River Trails Park District plans to spend the next two years investing in the digital needs of its residents through the creation of a new, updated website with new, easier-to-use registration software, according to Christine Powles, communications and marketing manager.

“We completed a community survey in 2013 that we will now use in our strategic planning for updating our parks and facilities,” she explained. “This year we are budgeting and planning and then in 2016 through 2020 executing that plan which will include improving and updating our existing facilities.”

“In the late 2000s we saw the effect of the recession. We kept up our standards and we are now finally at a point where we can start investing in new facilities and parks again through our Strategic Plan and Comprehensive Master Plan,” Powles said.

This year they are initiating the Trails Youth 2K Challenge at Woodland Trails Park in October. Children, ages seven to 14, will be invited to participate in a 2K race over natural and manmade obstacles. Another popular recreation program that continues to grow at the Rob Roy Golf Course is the adult Southside Bean Bags League. This past year there were over 40 participants.

“The people who began this park district saw the need for recreation and preserving land for parks. It’s what makes this Park District still unique and relevant today,” Powles explained. “They saw recreation as a necessity of life and wanted to provide it to the people of the area.”

“The mission of the River Trails Park District is to enrich the lives of our diverse community by providing quality parks, facilities and programs for recreation, education and wellness,” she added.

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