Naperville Park District’s year-to-date review shows growth, and challenges 

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The Naperville Park District’s leadership team gave an overview of the district’s year so far at the latest park board meeting. Overall, officials said the district is in a positive financial position but still working through some challenges.

Naperville Park District staffing and labor challenges

While staffing for the park district has seen improvements since 2022, there are still some difficulties filling certain slots. 

“There are areas such as custodial, trades, part-time park maintenance, food and beverage areas, customer service, and even areas like birthday party hosts and babysitting where we’ve had challenges with getting enough recruitment in those areas to fill all of the open positions that we have,” said Brad Wilson, the Executive Director of the Naperville Park District’s leadership team.

The increase in demand for some programs such as summer camps, soccer, and basketball is also causing challenges in staffing for the park district. The same is true for community and special events that require the involvement of multiple departments. 

Park district officials say they will continue to focus on staff recruitment and retention using advertisements and promotions, incentives like $100 hiring bonuses, and compensation evaluations. 

Supply chain and inflation issues

Supply chain issues, though improving, also continue to create challenges for the park district. 

One example is difficulty securing equipment and vehicles, due to delivery and equipment delays. That particular problem resulted in the delay of construction of the Frank J. Rus Pavilion, which was set to be installed this year but will now be installed in 2024.

Inflation issues also continue to affect the park district when purchasing equipment and parts.

The park district provided examples like a Toro Groundmaster mower whose price increased 120% from the last time one was purchased in 2018 and the Ford F250 truck, which has seen a price increase of 87% since 2019.

Repair parts have also gone up, with spending on those having increased 49% since 2021.

Facilities are helping with financial improvement

A larger turnout at park district facilities has helped provide a financial boost to the district. 

The Fort Hill Activity Center has seen large growth with fitness membership revenue going up 39% from this same time last year and fitness membership usage going up 55%.

Both the Springbrook and Naperbrook golf courses have also helped financially with an overall revenue that is 8% ahead of the budget. Memberships went up 5% compared to last year, and driving range revenue is up 12%.

Centennial Beach’s net income is slated to be slightly below budget, though the membership sales are on budget. There have also been improvements in daily paid admissions with a 9% year-to-date increase over 2022, and a 2.6% increase in orders at Centennial Grill. The Icees that were new this year brought in 30% more sales than last year’s shaved ice, while ice cream remains the top-selling item with nearly 15,000 cones sold this year.

Recreation participation increases

Another boost has come from greater participation in recreation programs. Park district summer camps have seen a 22% increase in campers from last year with over 2,500 campers taking part. 

Athletic programs have also seen more turnout. Fall Premier Soccer has been a standout, with a 5% increase over 2022, along with 122 teams, the highest numbers since before 2016. Director of Recreation and Facilities Andrea Coates predicts fall basketball will see an additional 240 players this year, as compared to last.

Adult and senior programs have also had higher participation, with coed softball for ages 50 and up increasing by 5% from last year. Senior and adult trips and outings have seen a 41% participation increase from 2022.

Indoor and beach group swim lessons saw a slight dip in participants, but private indoor lessons saw a 10% boost, and outdoor lessons had a higher-than-expected turnout.

With more people moving back to in-person activities, virtual programs have declined to 308 offerings this year compared to 650 in 2022.

Looking ahead to 2024

The Naperville Park District will use this data as it plans for 2024. Officials say they will continue to focus on staff recruitment and retention next year, by implementing new methods and programs.

The new HR payroll program for improving proficiency will be implemented, as well as a compensation study analysis and new innovation methods to overcome equipment challenges. 

The park district will also continue to work towards the goals of its Strategic Plan and Master Plan. 

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