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Community gives high marks to H-F Parks

Park commissioners said it was no surprise to find that more that two-thirds of Homewood-Flossmoor Park District residents are satisfied with the overall value they receive from the park district, and 83 percent said the park district is important to the overall quality of life.
And, it was no surprise that the number one request is more walking and biking trails.
Over the next several months, the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District will be using this and other information collected through resident survey responses to set its course for the future.
Nearly 400 households, selected at random, responded to surveys sent by mail and another 138 surveys filled out online. Of those, nearly 60 percent said someone in the household had participated in a recreation program offered by the park district over the past 12 months.
The survey was designed by Pros Consulting of Indianapolis.  Austin Hochstetler gave an assessment on the survey to park board commissioners at the July 2 meeting, helping them see where the park district is now, where it should be in the next 15 years and how to get there by setting priorities.
“You got very high reviews of your park district,” Hochstetler told the commissioners. The district serves 11,200 households.
The surveys were meant to give staff a look at: 
  • How the existing facilities are used.
  • Are the activities serving the needs of residents.
  • Are there activities/facilities residents go to outside of the park district.
  • Is there a willingness to pay for certain activities.
  • What should the park district do to invest in the facilities it operates.
The Homewood-Flossmoor Park District has 10 major facilities: Coyote Run Golf Course, H-F Ice Arena, H-F Racquet and Fitness Club, Irons Oaks Nature Center, Irwin Community Center, Lions Club Pool, The Clubhouse at Dolphin Lake, Rover’s Run Dog Park, eXtreme Skate Park and Wiley’s Grill.
And its 10 major activities include programs for adults and seniors, aquatics, athletics, before and after school care, fitness and wellness programs, golf, hockey and figure skating, nature programming, summer concerts/special events and tennis.
As extensive as the park district is, there are facilities and programs in the immediate market that residents said they would use or take advantage of, such as larger indoor pools, golf courses, gymnastics facilities or martial arts facilities.
The survey showed a need for keeping the community and park users actively involved; more multipurpose recreation space; teen programs; a multipurpose indoor facility and indoor walking paths.   
The board will look at its demographics, budget and outlook for building maintenance as it decides what it can do in the near future and what to move to long-range planning.
Of those surveyed, 64 percent said their highest need was a golf course and playgrounds, 58 percent said indoor and outdoor tennis, 55 percent needed meeting space and 52 percent were using the Splash Pad. They want to see more enrichment and adult programs, along with fitness and wellness programs, indoor playgrounds, miniature golf and pickleball courts.
The park district sends a “Choices” schedule of its activities to all households, and 69 percent said they use the brochure. Yet the survey found nearly 40 percent of respondents said they don’t know about ongoing programming and activities. And, 20 percent said they didn’t use park facilities because the fees are too high.
Commissioners will receive all the survey information documents and data in a book form to help them make their future decisions.

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