Consultant presents draft of parks strategic plan

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By Devin Rose

Staff Reporter

The Park District of Oak Park is good at soliciting community input and forming partnerships with other organizations, but there is room for improvement in its use of technology and the way it measures employee performance.

Those were some of the findings of consultants who facilitated a review of the park district's mission and strategic initiatives, which were developed in 2007. Following a board retreat in July, staff engaged Heller and Heller Consulting to help them develop a three-year strategic plan for 2013-2015.

According to a draft of the plan, the park district's major initiatives should include customer focus, financial strength, maintaining infrastructure, and operational and employee excellence.

Consultant Barbara Heller said she conducted focus groups with community leaders, who said the park district has a collaborative spirit and knows when to reach out to potential partners. They are also good at maintaining financial stability and strive to serve diverse groups, leaders said. But they need improvement when it comes to programs for seniors and for children who are too old for camps but too young to be on their own. The district also should have customer surveys to measure participants' satisfaction with programs, as well as criteria for what makes employees successful. They need to know who is using their services and should implement strategies to get non-users involved.

Technology is an element the district has improved on, Heller reported, but more can be done. One leader said the park district should digitize photographs and self-published e-books, and should get up to speed on social media in the future.

The strategic plan will likely be approved at the Dec. 20 board meeting.

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