Anyone who ever referred to summer as long and lazy never spent the season at the Burr Ridge Park District.
Summer is always a busy time of year for the park district. That was especially true this year, thanks to a few recently completed construction projects.
“The playground has become a destination,” said Lavonne Campbell, superintendent of recreation.
The new and improved playground opened in May and features a splash pad that was a popular attraction during the hot summer months, along with a sand play area, water features and new play equipment. But changes happened this summer on the inside, too.
A 3,000-square-foot addition opened up new programming opportunities at the Burr Ridge Community Center in Harvester Park. The new space, which opened in February, provides two new classrooms and much-needed elbow room for the day camp program, which Campbell said has seen an estimated 20 percent increase in attendance over last summer. Rather than spending the day in a room designed for much younger children, day campers were able to have a space of their own. The mini camp, for children 3 to 6 years old, also saw a jump in participation of about 20 to 25 percent.
While no classes are held in the addition’s new storage room, the room does open up space for additional programming. An old storage room has been converted into classroom space that provides room for programs with smaller enrollment.
“The new rooms have allowed us to be more accommodating,” said Jim Pacanowski, director of parks and recreation.
The preschool program is growing, too. The park district began inviting 2-year-olds to its preschool program last year. Since then the program has grown from 25 children to 40, thanks in part, Campbell said, to the new facility.
While related expenses have not been figured into the mix, increased revenues from summer programming offset the $12,000 loss caused by lower pool attendance. But Campbell said the park district isn’t about making money but providing services.
Pacanowski said rentals are up about 15 percent over last year, and there is no reason to think things will slow down. With cold weather and holidays ahead, he said the two new rooms likely will be used even more.