As 2019 draws to a close, we're reflecting on an amazing year. With our new Strategic Plan as our guide, we affirmed our mission to enrich lives, build community, and create memorable experiences through exceptional parks, programs, and facilities.

One hundred and fifty years ago, the Village of Glencoe was established with a public mandate to protect the community’s gate-way with planned parks and green space. While the Glencoe Park District wasn't formally created until 1912, excellence in parks and recreation has always been at the heart of our community. As Glencoe's Sesquicentennial year comes to a close, we are proud to continue to be the community’s gateway to recreation and fun.

The Glencoe Park District strives to provide memorable experiences to members of the community through special events. In the last year, over 48 special events were offered to the community, many at no charge. This provides an opportunity for our Glencoe community to come together and make special memories together. This, in addition to 267 innovative and unique general programs, gives the entire community an opportunity to recreate.

1,043 kids participated in Glencoe Park District summer camps in 2019.

All abilities welcome!

We serve people of all abilities with two new universally-accessible playgrounds and annually provide over 400 hours of space to NSSRA, our special recreation association. A favorite is the Valentine’s Day Dance, which brings participants from six special recreation associations together to celebrate. Since 2016, we committed over $620,000 to our ADA Transition Plan to eliminate accessibility barriers.

97.6% of Glencoe residents are within a 10-minute walk to a park.

Our facilities remain popular hubs for Glencoe residents to gather. The end of 2019 marks the second anniversary for Glencoe Fitness, an amenity that has brought many new users to the Park District and serves Glencoe's high school and adult population. Interested in learning more? Try a one week free trial!

Glencoe Beach continues to serve the community with a quarter mile of shoreline to Lake Michigan. The beautiful beach is a hub of activity including swimming, boating, picnics, and sand volleyball.

The ice rinks at Watts Recreational Center operate annually from the day after Thanksgiving through the end of February. The 2019 season’s opening day offered picturesque conditions which attracted over 400 skaters to skate and play hockey. During the season, the rink provides skating classes for the public, as well as District 35 physical education students, Children’s Circle Full Day preschool students and Kids Club participants. As we move into 2020, we are inviting the community to help us plan upgrades and the next phase for the beloved rink.

1,738 residents purchased passes to Glencoe Beach, Glencoe Fitness, or Watts Ice Center.

Beach SAFE Promotes Lake Safety

Our free Beach S.A.F.E. (Sailing & Aquatics for Everyone) program brought kids from 3 at-risk communities to Glencoe Beach to learn water safety skills and discover Lake Michigan recreational activities. This public/private partnership reduces access barriers by providing free transportation, protective swim shirts, and instruction.

Learning & care for little ones

We continue to be community's resource for quality early childhood education and recreation. Our Children’s Circle full-day preschool combines flexibility and high-quality teaching to create a unique program geared to the diverse needs of busy families. The program offers care 50 weeks a year, 11 hours a day for children six weeks until kindergarten. The popular program continues to have a wait-list, despite the Park District increasing classrooms by 50% in 2018.

Our Early Learning Center half day program continues to provide a strong foundation for Glencoe's preschoolers. We promote active play, take time for the creative arts, taste foods from other cultures, try words in unfamiliar languages, and set the stage for life in the world community.

Our Kids Club program continues to grow and provide before and after school programming for students in grades K-6, providing a much-needed level of support for working parents in the community. We also offer School Day Off programs for preschool and school-age children, which continue to gain popularity among busy families.

Our CARE scholarship eliminates financial barriers to programs. In 2019, we offered $17,500 in CARE scholarships to residents.

Public Beach Protection Pilot Program

Shoreline change in Illinois can be rapid and costly. Erosion throughout the region threatens key infrastructure like municipal water intake structures/roads, endangers parks/beaches, and washes away important coastal habitats. At Glencoe Beach, sand erosion significantly reduced the size of our beach. With the long-term future of Glencoe Beach in question, we needed a solution.

We enlisted a team of engineers and geomorphologists to examine the beach’s bluff and sand. Soil borings, site visual observations, and a topography study were performed. We are now making surface-water management modifications and restoring retaining walls to combat erosion.

In February, the United States Congress appropriated a highly-competitive federal grant to our four communities – Glencoe, Lake Bluff, North Chicago, and Evanston – for a pilot program we developed to address Lake Michigan shoreline issues in a sustainable, cost-effective way. This project, supported by the IDNR and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, includes dredging and sand transport, onshore sand placement, native plantings, and beach monitoring to protect 54,560 yards of shoreline at regional sites, including Glencoe Beach. While work is not expected to begin until 2021, it will serve as an important proof-of-concept of how multiple communities can amplify the collective impact of shoreline protection and will pave the way for lasting, holistic public shoreline protection around the U.S.

We partner with 35+ civic/nonprofit groups to offer a variety of health and sustainability programs. 29% of our events partner with nonprofit organizations to create positive family experiences and raise money and/or awareness for community causes. In addition, we host community bone marrow and blood drives, collect compost and bicycle recycling donations, and host holiday toy collections.

Honeybee Hives Thriving

Now in our second year, our apiary program continues to effect change with 100,000 bees in beehives that serve to educate our community on what they can personally do to help pollinators thrive. Our first harvest of honey is expected to be available to the public in early 2020!

For the second year in row, the Glencoe Park District has maintained an Aaa rating from Moody’s Investors Service (the highest rating available).

Supporting our Veterans

Every Memorial Day weekend, our Veterans Memorial Park serves as the starting point for the Ruck March, an event designed to raise awareness for veteran PTSD and suicide. What started as 25 veterans and supporters walking 20+ miles in 2013 has grown to over 2,000 people in 2019.

The current Park District tax rate is .633 and it makes up only 7% of the total tax bill for Glencoe residents.

Caring for our environment

Natural area stewardship is an important part of what we do. This year, we performed a prescribed burn at Robert Everley Wildflower Sanctuary to help manage invasive species, stimulate the growth of native plants, increase plant and animal diversity, and reduce woody growth.

As co-founder of the Glencoe Sustainability Committee, we lead by example to mitigate environmental impact on a local scale.

To restore a 2.5-mile trail, we partnered with the Friends of Green Bay Trail and committed 200 staff labor hours to help combat invasive species, improve plant health, protect habitats, and offer education. Work on the Green Bay Trail SOSA (South of South Avenue) project started in 2018 and finished in 2019.

Big Hearted Bowls

As part of the Village of Glencoe’s year-long sesquicentennial celebration, the Glencoe Park District's ceramics students created the Big-Hearted Bowl Project. Park District ceramic students and teachers crafted 150 handmade bowls in honor of the sesquicentennial, which were sold at Park District events.

To sweeten the deal for those purchasing the $20 bowls, local businesses including Apple a Day & Meg’s Cafe, Bake Homemade Pizza, Frank & Betsie’s, The Grand Food Center, Guanajuato, Guildhall, Hometown Coffee and Juice, Mariano’s, and Shanghai Garden donated $10 gift certificates which will be included with each bowl purchased. Over $2,000 from Big-Hearted Bowl sales was then donated to the New Trier Township Food Pantry.

One of our most popular events is The Great Mud Run, a 2-kilometer race through 12 obstacles in Watts Park. Kids crawl through ropes, run through tunnels, and jump over streams to complete the outdoor course. Lauded “the best day of my life” by one race participant, 30% of Glencoe students participated in the challenge’s third annual year. The community-wide event also attracted sponsors and a team of volunteers.

Citizen Involvement

So many people volunteer their time and ideas to the Glencoe Park District. We appreciate all who volunteer to serve on committees and task forces or be part of recreation events. Thank you.

Our Board of Commissioners, Lakefront Advisory Group, Watts Advisory Group, and Dog Park Task Force met for a combined 84 hours in 2019. These unpaid roles help guide the Park District and provide community input on important issues. We truly appreciate your dedication to the District.

Over two hundred individuals volunteered to be part of The Great Mud Run or Earth Day Clean-Up, provided feedback at focus groups or on surveys, attended community input about Watts and dog park locations, helped with dance and drama performances, or signed up to coach our youth basketball teams. Thank you for being there and being part of the Glencoe Park District.

In addition, we would like to thank all the volunteer groups that help us provide programs and services to residents, including Glencoe Community Garden, Glencoe Rotary, Glencoe Historical Society, Glencoe Sustainability Committee, Active Transportation Committee, Glencoe Junior High Project, Glencoe Youth Services, Friends of the Green Bay Trail, Women's Library Club, Glencoe Baseball Association, Family Services of Glencoe, Glencoe Boat Club, and any others we may have forgotten. Our partnerships are valuable, and a tremendous asset to our residents. Thank you.

Capital Projects Completed in 2019

Woodlawn Park Opening Celebration

Woodlawn Park, located at the corner of Green Bay Road and Woodlawn Avenue, is opened on December 19, 2018, but we celebrated the Grand Opening in June of 2019. The new park features a walking path, a giant swing bank, two racing zip lines, a Topsy Turny spinner, as well as a soaring play structure that reaches 10' in height with slides, play panels, and ramps. The entire park wraps around protected 100-year-old oak trees.

Early Childhood Playground

After months of construction, the new Early Childhood playground at the Takiff Center opened on December 9, 2019 for students to enjoy. The colorful new space plays with the site’s topography with hillside slides, bright tunnels, and age-appropriate play pieces. Altamanu, Inc, designed the playground with input from Park District teachers and staff. The new playground emphasizes gross motor skills, as well as the development of social and emotional learning.

The new playground is ADA-compliant and meets all DCFS requirements for early childhood programs at the Takiff Center, which includes Children’s Circle Full Day Preschool, Earl Learning Center Preschool, Glencoe Junior Kindergarten (GJK), and summer camps.

Halfway House at Glencoe Beach

One of our 2019 capital projects was the restoration of the historic Halfway House at Glencoe Beach. The job included the replacement of the clay tile roof, wood decking repair, re-pointing all the exterior and interior walls, and resetting the existing floor stone pavers at the Halfway House. At the same time, work on the historic Beach House was done to re-pointing the stone surrounding the window and doors, as well as replacing gutter and downspouts, and providing new LED lighting.

Connect Glencoe

In 2020, Connect Glencoe will activate a series of linear parks along Old Green Bay Road. The stretch of land is 0.53 miles (approximately 2,800 feet). The trail will be 10-feet wide with a crushed limestone surface.

The project will connect five separate parks with a meandering path that takes walkers, runners, and bikers through an urban garden of mature trees. The trail will connect users to various gardens, activity amenities, a new playground, an interactive water feature, a sculpture, as well as downtown businesses, the lakefront, and the train station.

Our team successfully secured a record number of grants and a donation in 2019 for the project. The project received a Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) grant for $667,150, an IDNR Bicycle Path Grant for $200,000 and a $300,000 private donation. In addition, the project is a finalist for a $400,000 OSLAD Grant, which will be awarded in January.

Award-winning Park District!

State Accreditation

In January, we were recognized as an IPRA/IAPD Distinguished Accreditation Agency for the first time. The goal of the Illinois Distinguished Accreditation program is to improve the delivery of recreation services to the residents of Illinois through a voluntary comprehensive evaluation process. The desired result is to improve the quality of life for Illinois residents and to recognize those agencies that provide this quality service.

National Recognition

We're proud to be a national leader in the parks and recreation field. In September, the Glencoe Park District became a National Gold Medal Winner for the first time in our 100+ year history. Founded in 1965, the Gold Medal Awards program honors communities in the U.S. that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development, and agency recognition. The rigorous process examined Glencoe Park District’s strong community mission, commitment to innovation and financial responsibility, well-rounded programs, and intergovernmental cooperation.

"Winning the Gold Medal was only possible because of the support of our residents, cooperation with local government, guidance of park board members, and efforts of a professional staff who work together to make the Glencoe community a great place to live," said Lisa Sheppard, Glencoe Park District Executive Director.
As 2019 comes to an end, we would like to thank you for your support. We can't wait to see what will unfold in 2020!
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Glencoe Park District


Glencoe Park District