Parks report Card
Organizational Excellence: To strive for innovative operational excellence.
In the 2014 Community Attitude and Interest Survey, 93.9% of Oak Park residents indicated they visited a park. Since the passing of the 2005 “Renew Our Parks” referendum, the Park District has invested $63 million dollars in improvements of our parks, facilities, and equipment, and has worked to incorporate preventative and sustainable operational measures in order to maintain these investments. However, the Park District lacked a way to measure the quality of park infrastructure and maintenance to understand the current state of parks and facilities. To accomplish this, Park District staff developed a mobile evaluation tool to inspect features within community parks in order to assign a grade to each park as well as the overall park system. The goals of the project are:
- Communicate priorities internally as well externally
- Learn how the present state compares to past performance
- Measure impact of infrastructure investment and maintenance efforts
- Demonstrate progress toward mission, goals, and objectives
- Provide direction for allocation of funding
- Offer transparency and accountability to the public
The Park District launched the Parks Report Card. Overall, the park system received an 83/100 (B) or “Good.” The mobile tool developed to collect the inspection results was also well-received, although refinements were identified. Data collected was compiled in a report along with recommendations for improvements to park operations, maintenance, capital improvements, and park design. The evaluation tool was designed to reflect a park visitor’s experience and grades were weighted to reflect the priorities of an average park user (based on survey & demographic data). Photos were taken to verify the results generated. An interactive dashboard was also created to share additional information about the park grades with staff and the public.
The Park District re-framed the purpose of the Parks Report card to include problem-solving as well as accountability. Following the first park surveys, the Parks and Planning Team reviews the data and pictures and identifies areas of improvement. Staff can then address those issues. The second time the survey is done, those issues should be addressed. Finally, at the end of the season, we created a custom report for each park feature area, customizing the data and making it easier for them to address issues identified. During these meetings, long-term challenges are discussed and the Team plans out how to improve for the following year. While we have seen higher scores, the real benefit has been moving the parks report card data to those that can address problems and making data part of the organizational culture.
With the success of the Parks Report Card, staff are developing a similar assessment tool for Park District Facilities. Will launch in 2020.