Thursday, April 16, 2009

TON Parks and Recreation Department

The Parks and Recreation Department 2008 Annual Report is difficult to summarize because there are SO MANY facilities, programs, and events included. So I will describe their accomplishments in very broad terms, and put into just a few categories.

First, the “parks” category: In addition to ongoing maintenance of all of the parks and park facilities, some major accomplishments in 2008 included extending the Constitution Trail, making improvements to Ironwood Golf Course, renovation of Fell Park, improvements at One Normal Plaza, and renovations at the skate park. Plans are underway for additional tree planting (to replace the unfortunate ash trees and to maintain our status as a Tree City USA) and for the building of new waterslides at Fairview Park.

Second, the “recreation” category: Swimming, fitness classes, field trips, and a multitude of “ball” sports and league play are provided by the Parks and Recreation Department. And these activities are divided into different age categories, starting with the very, very young. Basically, you can start your children in a recreational activity not long after birth (ok, that’s a slight exaggeration).

Third, the “cultural activities” category: The Connie Link Amphitheatre is used for several theatre programs as well as special concerts and events throughout the summer months. Being conveniently located near the Constitution Trail has helped to increase attendance at the amphitheatre events, and bike racks will be available for the 2009 season. The Normal Theater continues to provide a variety of unique films for our enjoyment, as well as hosting some film festivals. With the connection to the new Conference Center, there will undoubtedly be an increase in activity at the theater in the coming years.

Fourth, the Children’s Discovery Museum category: Yes, it gets its own category. Compared to the museums that I visited on school field trips, this is certainly not a “normal” museum, all self-contained with static displays. Instead, the CDM has interactive displays and reaches out into the community with many programs. They had over 134,000 visitors and over 28,000 participants in at least some of their programs in 2008! I won’t even try to begin to list all of the exhibits and programs, there are so many. I would be very surprised if there were any families in this area who haven’t participated in at least one of the CDM opportunities.

Given all that the Normal Parks and Recreation Department provides, I’m amazed that anyone in this community ever spends any time at home! (You’re reading this on a laptop, sitting under a tree in a local park, right??)

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