Getting to know the Batavia Park District
May 14, 2015 10:34AM
● By Tim
Wikipedia sums it up pretty well: “Recreation is an activity of leisure, leisure being discretionary time. The need to do something for recreation is an essential element of human biology and psychology. Recreational activities are often done for enjoyment, amusement, or pleasure and are considered to be ‘fun.’ ” Every family household, community organization and even businesses, try to incorporate “fun,” or recreation, somewhere into their routine. Recreation is so important to the community that there is an organization whose sole purpose is to provide, foster and promote recreation: the Batavia Park District.
Batavia Park District—enriching lives since 1969
At the Batavia Park District, your fun really IS their business! The district has been providing memorable experiences in parks and recreation since its inception in 1969.
The district operates more than 350 acres and a variety of unique facilities including the Batavia Depot Museum and Hall Quarry Beach. More than 1,000 recreational programs are offered annually in areas such as dance, fitness, and athletics. In-house programs include New Horizons Preschool, an Enrichment Program for kindergarten-age children, and the Kids Club before-and-after-school program. Forty park sites provide families, friends and neighbors a variety of places to play.
The park district is a critical component of the community because it enriches the lives of those in it by aiding with the following:
• Improving health and wellness
• Building self-esteem
• Boosting the economy
• Protecting the environment
• Educating children and adults
• Reducing stress
• Creating memories
• Increasing community pride
• Eliminating loneliness.
The difference between park districts and park and recreation departments
Is the Batavia Park District part of the City of Batavia? No. Batavia Park District and the City of Batavia are two separate entities. The district is what is referred to as a “special purpose district,” providing public parks and recreation services within its own boundary lines that are not contiguous with the city’s boundary lines. The State of Illinois is a nation-wide leader in recreation because it has the highest number of park districts in the U.S.
State statute provides for the creation of park districts, geographic borders and annexation; the selection of a governing board (the park board); and criteria for levying property taxes on behalf of the district. A park district can bring in additional revenue by charging program and admission fees as well as through sponsorships and donations.
The largest employer of youth
Did you know the Batavia Park District is the largest employer of youth in the community? Few opportunities afford an individual the ability to make as big a difference to so many people as public service does. The district serves as a first job for many teenagers. Seasonal positions at the Hall Quarry Beach such as lifeguards, admissions, and concessions, as well as day camp counselors and park operation workers are popular alternatives to working retail positions.
Working for the district allows teens to learn necessary life skills, build character, and contribute to their own community. These are skills that will last a lifetime!
Batavia Park District provides activities for all ages
It’s a common misconception that park districts are only for families with young children. But park and recreation agencies are so much more than that. Most agencies have taken on the roles of facilitating athletic feeder programs; implementing activities for seniors; and hosting various entertainment events like concerts and movies in the parks for all ages. The Batavia Park District is no different. Not only does the district offer preschool programming and youth classes, but it also provides adult variety classes, adult athletic leagues, senior trips, monthly meetings of the Batavia Senior Citizens Club, and event recreational opportunities for your four-legged friends at the Batavia Bark Park. Special events are held year-round that promote family, friendly fun for everyone, regardless of age.
Adults have long turned to local leagues and recreational programs to exercise and let off steam. In order to keep programs fresh and creative, recreation staff are listening to players’ requests—and introducing new ideas to our community. As a result, adult sports programs have shifted to accommodate tighter schedules and new activities such as disc golf and pickle ball. The disc golf trend reflects the desire to get potential players into a game more quickly, with less equipment and sometimes fewer people required for a game. Other trends reflect the time constraints and pressures of working adults such as the trend of Baggo or “cornhole.” These games reflect a more lighthearted and less athletic approach to time spent after work. Across the country, adults are taking a trip down memory lane by unwinding with games they remember from childhood.
The health benefits of a park district
The district has an emphasis on health and fitness. Whether you take part in a cardio kickboxing, yoga, or Zumba class, you’ll be improving your cardiovascular system, lowering blood pressure, and improving your overall mental and physical health and wellness. Ultimately you’ll be adding years to your life and quality to those years. Physical activity is also a great way to reduce stress and offer relief from our hectic lives. Benefits from recreational programs are also valuable for children. Through participation in programs such as the New Horizons Preschool or the Enrichment Program, children improve their coordination, learn teamwork and cooperation, make friends, learn leadership skills and build their self- esteem. The district provides opportunities for learning as well as living a more balanced, productive life.
Realtors in Illinois rank parks and recreation as one of the top three reasons to move to a community—usually only second to a school district. Home buyers want open space, recreational programs, facilities and a sense of community.
Did you know for every foot further away from open space, property values decrease by $1.72? Parks and recreation contribute to increased property values which ultimately increase a community’s desirability.
The Batavia Park District benefits the local economy by increasing tourism whether it’s through unique facilities like the Batavia Depot Museum and Hall Quarry Beach or popular festivals like the Windmill City Festival or the Illinois State Championship Chili Cook-off.
The district helps the environment by protecting our natural resources, preserving open space, protecting wildlife, and ultimately improving the quality of life for our residents.
The district has a number of initiatives in place to “Go Green.” All district vehicles meet and/or exceed EPA Clean Fuel Fleet Emissions Standards, and each unit passes state emissions tests yearly. The district also has a no idling policy for fleet vehicles, which reduces fuel consumption.
Within the parks, the district uses state certified safety mulch made from recycled shipping pallets and tree brush. This product reduces expenses and provides safety surface for playgrounds.
The volunteer spirit
Volunteerism runs deep in Batavia, and the Batavia community is fortunate to have so many hard-working citizens who volunteer their time throughout the year. More than 200 individuals dedicate 1,500 hours to the district annually, saving more than $13,000. The district’s new Volunteer Program allows individuals, families and groups the opportunity to give back by lending a hand at a number of events throughout the year.
The Batavia Parks Foundation is a local volunteer organization dedicated to assisting the Batavia Park District in promoting community and quality of life for Batavia residents. Last year the Foundation completed a year-long project to rebuild the Riverwalk boardwalk. Volunteers logged nearly 3,000 over the course of a year and worked every weekend to completely renovate the boardwalk.
“Once you’ve helped build something from the ground up, you’ll never experience that place in the same way again,” said Executive Director Allison Niemela, “I highly encourage you to get involved and give back to the community.”
Family and community benefits
The Batavia Park District builds strong families. After all, families that play together, stay together.
Parent/tot classes offer skill building and essential bonding time. Senior activities provide opportunities to socialize, make new friends, learn new skills, and travel to fun and historical places. Large-scale community events like Windmill City Festival and Celebration of Lights bring friends and neighbors together and help create a sense of community pride and spirit. Through their programs and service, the district promotes ethnic and cultural harmony and provides opportunities to appreciate and enjoy our similarities and differences.
Fun for four-legged friends
Take one look around, and you’ll agree Batavia is a dog-friendly community. Everywhere you go, you’ll see people with their dogs in tow—on the trails, in the parks, at the River Rhapsody Concert Series and at local festivals.
In 2008, with a growing need for space for dogs to run off-leash, the district opened the Bark Park at West Main Community Park. The three-acre, fenced in park is a common meeting group for dogs of all shapes and sizes. It features a pavilion, plenty of shade trees and access to a pond just west of the park.
Throughout the year, the district offers a number of pet-related programs, including a Doggie Easter Egg Hunt, Windmill City Festival Pet Parade, and a new Walk & Wag 3K-9. So even your four-legged family members can get in on the fun.
Check out these upcoming events at the Batavia Park District:
The 7th annual Super Savvy Senior Expo will showcase a variety of services available for young at heart individuals and/or their caregivers. Stop by to browse more than 50 local resources... Read More »
In summer 2015, a cultural arts concert series will emerge at the Batavia Riverwalk. Concerts will be featured during the months of June, July and August, beginning June 17. The concert s... Read More »
Organized by the Batavia Park District, Batavia Chamber of Commerce, and City of Batavia Thursday, July 9 6–9pm Carnival open 6–9pm Beer Garden open 7–10pm Hillbilly Rockstarz ... Read More »