Originally this place called Arlington Heights was a part of the prairie of the Midwest. Various Indian tribes roamed the area at will until the western expansion of the white man drove them out. The Indian Treaties and the Homestead Act of the 1830's and 40's encouraged permanent settlement of the area and Asa Dunton filed three claims in 1837. William and James Dunton, Asa's sons, moved onto their properties in 1844, followed by Asa in 1846. William Dunton named the small town "Bradley" in 1854, however the name was changed to "Dunton" a year later. The biggest force shaping the early Midwest was the railroad. William Dunton persuaded the rail builders to route the train through his town by selling 16 acres of his own land for railroad right of way for only $350. The improved transportation to Chicago spurred the industrial and farming growth of "Dunton" and, in 1874, "Arlington Heights" was chosen as the new name for the village. The train is still a central focus of the community today.
In 1887, the Village of Arlington Heights was incorporated and civic improvements were begun. In 1892, because the townspeople protested the unsightly conditions of the land alongside the railroad tracks, the Railroad developed several parks on the north and south sides of the railroad right of way. These "railroad parks" were the beginning of the park system in Arlington Heights. In 1925 the citizens determined, by petition, that there was a need for an organized park district and that future development of the community demanded such an organization. On June 9, 1925, the Arlington Heights Park District was formed and the first Park District meeting was held June 18, 1925, with Commissioners Nathaniel Banta, Henry Klehm, Eugene Berbecker, Albert Volz, and Julius D. Flentie.
Some of the first land acquisitions made by the new Park District included the dedication of Memorial Park by the Village (originally donated to the Village in 1883 by Dr. John Best as the site for a soldier's memorial) and leasing the railroad parks along the Chicago and Northwestern right of way. Development of these parks took much of the Commissioners' time and effort as they pitched in to help with the work. The first taxes levied by the Park District were collected in May 1926 and totaled $1,335.72. In 1926, the first Park Superintendent (seasonal) was appointed. The Park District began moving towards a recreation program by erecting the first community Christmas Tree in 1926 and allowing the Business Men's Association to build a bandstand in one of the railroad parks in 1929. In 1928, the boundaries of the Park District were revised by annexation to be the same as the Village boundaries. The first bonds were issued, by ordinance, for land acquisition and development of a southside park in 1931. New park lands were purchased or donated and a grant from the Civil Works Administration in 1933 helped plant over 2,000 moline elm trees within the District, landscape one of the railroad parks and build a skating rink in South Park, which later was renamed Cronin Park.
By 1934 the citizens of Arlington Heights were contemplating bigger projects and, although the yearly tax levy was only $3,000, a straw vote held to determine if the Park District should construct a public swimming pool failed, 215 to 201. In 1935 one of the Park Board Commissioners was authorized to investigate the matter of organized playground activity in the Park District and the first recreation programs soon began. In 1936 architectural drawings for a pool and fieldhouse were drawn, and accepted, as a Works Progress Administration project. The whole project was put together in five hours to meet federal deadlines. Bonds were issued, through referendum and ordinance, by the Park District to finance its portion of the project, which amounted to $43,400. On May 28, 1939, Recreation Park fieldhouse and swimming pool were officially dedicated and on June 17, these facilities were opened to the public. Other recreational facilities included a shelter house, ice skating rink, croquet court, baseball diamond, tennis courts, horseshoe courts, and shuffleboard courts.
When Recreation Park swimming pool opened for the 1939 season, the admission price was 10 cents for children up to 13 years old, 20 cents for youth ages 13 to 19, and 25 cents for adults. During the first summer of operation, 591 season tickets were sold, primarily to children and youth. Daily admission prices remained the same for the 1940 season but a discount season ticket was offered for the first time. Swimming races and a diving competition were held at the pool on a 1940 summer evening following a band concert and, in 1942, the first annual Arlington Heights Recreation Park swimming and diving meet, sanctioned by the Central A.A.U., was held. Fear of polio kept people away from public swimming pools in 1943 and forced the Park District to close Recreation Park swimming pool in early August with net receipts of only 42 cents. However, swimming soon became popular again and, in 1947, the Park District reported that 37,000 people had used Recreation Park pool during the summer. Through the years, and even with the addition of four outdoor pools, Recreation Park swimming pool continued to be the center of the District's summer swimming programs.
In 1941, the first meeting of the Recreation Commission was held. The Commission developed from an idea of a local resident and the Park Board appointed representatives from local civic associations. The recreation programs of the District continued to develop and, in 1946, the Community Council donated 30% of the profits of the July 4th festival to the Park District for recreational programs and a portion of the fieldhouse at Recreation Park was designated as a youth center. 1946 also saw Park District residents approve a referendum to establish the corporate tax rate at .125% and the recreation tax rate at .0625%.
By 1950, a summer playground director was working for the Park District. The recreation program consisted only of summer activities including swim lessons, little league, softball, tennis lessons, handicrafts, the Lions Olympics, trips to Cubs and White Sox games, volleyball leagues, a Girls Athletic Club, and the annual water show. Programs were held primarily at Recreation Park but a few were held at South Park (Cronin Park). Recreation activities expanded into the fall for the first time in 1953 when the midget football program began.
In 1952 the controversy began over the selling of the Railroad Parks. The Village attempted to purchase several parcels of the land from the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad to widen Davis Street in order to provide off-street parking. However, the Park Board and Village citizens were adamantly opposed to the loss of the parks and the matter was dropped. Meanwhile, the Chicago and Northwestern began a program of liquidating non-revenue producing property, including the Railroad Parks and, in 1958, offered to sell five of the eight parcels to the Village (two parcels had already been sold and the railroad station stood on another parcel). The Village held an unsuccessful referendum for the purchase of the Railroad Parks for parks and parking in 1959. Emotions were running high both for keeping the Railroad Parks and turning them into much needed parking for the downtown business section. In the meantime, the Arlington Heights National Bank quietly purchased one parcel of land from the Chicago and Northwestern and began installing a parking lot for their customers in 1960. Cries of outrage were heard throughout the Village but, in 1961, the Village purchased four parcels of land for parking expansion. By the mid 1960's the Railroad Parks, which served as the catalyst in the formation of the Arlington Heights Park District, had been turned into parking lots.
In 1955, Park District voters approved a referendum to issue $675,000 in bonds for land acquisition and park development. By 1957, when the fieldhouse, pool, maintenance garage, ball diamonds, and tennis courts were completed at Pioneer Park, the Arlington Heights Park District consisted of two community parks, seven neighborhood parks and many small lots in Stonegate and Scarsdale.
During the mid 1950's, the little league baseball program started by the Park District had grown too large for the Park District staff to handle alone. A group of involved citizens formed an association, the Little League Organization, and took over the operation of the program. A cooperative agreement was established between the Park District and the Little League whereby the Little League was responsible for furnishing uniforms and equipment, and securing coaches, officials, scorers, and other volunteers to run the baseball program while the Park District was responsible for maintaining the ball diamonds. Soon the Park District's midget football program became a part of the Little League and was operated in the same manner as the baseball program. To date, the boy's baseball, girl's softball and boy's football programs continue to be organized and operated by a parents association, now known as the Arlington Heights Youth Athletic Association. The Park District has cooperated with this group since its inception by maintaining athletic fields, constructing additional fields, and leasing office and storage facilities to the Association.
1957 saw the beginning of a year round recreation program for the Arlington Heights Park District. Fall and winter program offerings included adult badminton, men's volleyball, open basketball, indoor golf, adult arts and crafts, square dancing, and tumbling. Most of the programs were free: charges were made only for special trips, materials and special instruction.
When the first full-time recreation superintendent was hired in 1959, the complexion of the District's recreation programs began to change. The 1959 playground program was expanded to include four neighborhood parks in order to bring summer activities closer to the children. New programs for adults and children were offered including slimnastics, a fall fishing derby at the swimming pools, horseback riding lessons, and a winter ice carnival sponsored by the Rotary Club; and the gymnasium at Recreation Park began to be used as a roller skating rink.
The rapid population growth of Arlington Heights during the 1950's spurred the Park District into a heavy land acquisition and annexation program in the 1960's. From 1950 to 1960, the population rose 218% while park and open space land lagged behind national standards. New subdivisions were required to dedicate park land, however, the Park District began to realize that simple land dedication was not enough; money for development was necessary. In many cases donations of time and materials eased the development squeeze but annexations of unincorporated land proved to be the most beneficial in increasing the tax base and bonding powers of the District. In addition, during the 1960's, voters passed three bond referendums for land acquisition and development: in 1962 for $395,000, in 1965 for $465,000 and in 1968 for $2,800,000. These referendums enabled the Park District to acquire needed land and to build many facilities including the fieldhouse at Hasbrook Park, the bathhouse at Recreation Park, an addition to the maintenance garage at Pioneer Park, the swimming pools and fieldhouses at Frontier and Camelot Parks, the swimming pool and bathhouse at Heritage Park, and the indoor swimming pool at Olympic Park along with ball diamonds, tennis courts, multipurpose areas, athletic fields, playgrounds, and to install walkway and park lighting.
The Park District's recreation programs continued to grow during the 1960's. A senior citizens club was formed, after-school game rooms were opened and a playschool program for 3 to 5 year olds began. Ice-skating was expanded with the installation of lights and a shelter building at Hickory Meadows in 1962. Other new programs included the annual Candy Egg Hunt, dance classes and ski trips. During this time the community centers began to remain open in the evening for drop-in activities instead of opening only for scheduled meetings and programs. By 1964 the recreation programs had grown large enough to justify hiring a full-time recreation supervisor. The Park District began a summer program for mentally handicapped children in 1965, which soon expanded into the fall and winter. During the late 1960's the first recreation fieldwork students came to work at the Park District and a training and exercise room was opened in the basement of Recreation Park.
In 1967 the Park Board and School District 59 agreed that the Park District would contribute $13,000 to help finance the construction of a larger multipurpose room at Juliette Low School which the Park District would use for recreational activities after school and on weekends. The school would use Heritage Park athletic fields, ball diamonds and playground during school hours, and the park and school land would be developed as a single coordinated area. In 1998, when School District 59 began the remodeling and addition to Juliette Low School, a new intergovernmental agreement was signed giving the Park District use of the commons and gym for programs before and after school and on weekends and providing for joint development of a new playground.
Late in 1964, the Park District believed that the United States Government would list the Arlington Heights Nike Base site as surplus land, a location that the Park District was very much interested in for a regional park. One hundred acres of the site was actually listed as surplus late in 1966 but, the United States Navy declared an interest in 24 acres for a Navy housing project, thus dashing the Park District's hopes of acquiring the 100 acres for a planned 18 hole golf course. The Navy's housing plans never materialized and, in 1971, the Park Board organized a Blue Ribbon citizens committee to help in the acquisition of the land. During this time the Village also declared an interest in the Nike site for flood control purposes.
In 1972 very heavy flooding hit the homes in the area adjacent to the Nike site and the quest to gain acquisition of the site gained momentum. The Village's Citizens Action Committee Against Flooding, the newly formed Citizens Committee for the Utilization of the Nike Base, the Village Trustees and staff, and the Park District Board and staff began to channel their efforts in the same direction. The Park District's golf course plans were revised to include flood control lakes and thus became a part of the Village wide flood control plan. The Park District was further involved in the Village's flood control plans through the use of retention and detention basins for recreation areas including softball diamonds, a golf driving range, sled hills, tennis courts, and ice skating rinks.
The United States Navy again declared an interest in 51 acres of the Nike site for housing in late 1972 dashing the acquisition hopes for a second time. By 1973, Senators Charles Percy and Adlai Stevenson had become involved in the fight and 13 acres of the land was conveyed to the Park District from the Federal government.
In 1974 the fight for acquisition continued with the help of Representative Philip Crane. Many involved citizens wrote letters to Federal officials, journeyed to Washington for meetings and picketed the Nike site. The Navy gave up their interest in 52 acres of land but the Army decided they needed those extra 52 acres for reserve training. Eventually the President of the United States intervened and the controversial 52 acres was awarded to the Park District.
The 65 acres the Park District now owned was in two parcels, one on the east and one on the west end of the Nike site. This land situation was definitely not conducive to the construction of an 18-hole golf course. The Army was standing firm in their need for the remaining acreage for reserve training so the golf course/flood control plan was revised for a 9 hole course on the 52 acres. However, the fight went on for acquisition of an additional 26 acres.
More picketing was planned for the summer of 1975 but the plans were put on hold when the Army stated they were willing to discuss joint use of the land. The final 26 acres were conveyed to the Park District in 1976 and the Army, citizens and Park District worked out the boundary lines to permit the best use of all the acres deeded to the Park District.
The Village earmarked $800,000 for use at the golf course for flood control, and took care of the excavation and grading of the site. In 1976, Park District voters approved a $1,500,000 bond referendum for golf course development. The Park Board approved a $334,000 installment contract in 1978 for construction of a larger clubhouse facility and appointed a Citizens Advisory Committee to advise the Board on the formulation of the golf course's operational policies and procedures.
In May of 1979, the Arlington Lakes Golf Club opened its golf course and restaurant to the public culminating 14 years of effort by dedicated citizens, the Village, Park District, and elected officials including State Representative Virginia Macdonald and Congressman Donald Rumsfield along with Senators Percy and Stevenson, and Congressman Crane. In 1980, the Park District expanded golf services with the opening of Sunset Meadows Driving Range. Lights were installed at the Driving Range in 1988. Arlington Lakes Golf Club is as popular today as the District envisioned it would be in 1964. During its 22nd year of operation (May 2110-April 2002), more than 57,000 rounds of golf were played. The pro shop area was remodeled in 2000 to expand the pro shop, add more seating in the snack bar, add new counters and displays, and redesign the office area. Over the years, the District has modified the operation of the Arlington Lakes Restaurant in an effort to find the right place in a difficult market. The Restaurant began as a full service restaurant and bar operation, then changed to lunch and dinner with bar services during the golf season from May through August along with full service banquet operations. Currently, the restaurant offers banquet room rentals using outside catering with bar services provided by Arlington Lakes. From May through August, the restaurant is open with a sandwich menu and full bar service from 5:00-10:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. All other food service at the Golf Club is handled through the snack bar.
In 1971, the Park District had a survey taken of District residents to determine their attitudes towards the Park District's Commissioners, staff, programs, and facilities. One of the conclusions of the survey stated that residents were interested in an artificial ice skating rink and an indoor tennis facility while they were not interested in tax rate increases. The Park District sponsored a public meeting to discuss the feasibility of constructing an indoor tennis facility and an indoor ice rink. Out of this meeting a citizens committee was formed and began to study the issues. After much effort on the part of the committee it was decided that the Park District should build an indoor tennis facility with revenue bonds and conduct a general obligation bond referendum for the construction of an indoor ice rink.
In June and August of 1972, the Park Board issued $735,000 in revenue bonds by ordinance to finance the construction of an indoor tennis facility and Forest View Tennis Club opened in 1973 with six indoor tennis courts. In 1976, the Park Board approved a $577,000 installment contract for construction of eight handball/racquetball courts at Forest View and the air-conditioned courts were opened in 1977. On May 1, 1988, the Forest View Racquet Club Revenue Bonds were called and pre-paid, exactly one year prior to their due date. Several improvements were made at the Racquet Club in the early 1990's. The outdoor courts were completely re-designed including surfacing, lighting, brick patio, and pavilion, and were opened to the public on June 9, 1990. Renovations in 1991 and 1992 included installation of a new HVAC system, converting the second floor into a full-scale fitness center, converting two racquetball courts into an aerobic/dance studio, expanding the men's locker room, and installing an elevator. The facility was renamed Forest View Racquet and Fitness Club in 1991.
In December of 1972 the vote went against the Park District's referendum to issue $2,550,000 in general obligation bonds for park improvement and development including the construction of a fieldhouse at Dryden Park, land acquisition, the construction of a north side maintenance garage, and the construction of an indoor ice rink complex along with increasing the corporate tax rate by .025%.
In the mid 1970's the Park District was facing a financial deficit. The annual income from taxes was not keeping pace with rising costs. The District began to cut expenses through elimination of programs and personnel and was forced to postpone all except emergency repairs. As the situation became more critical the Board organized a Citizens Park and Recreational Financial Plan Committee to study the problem and make recommendations. The Committee recommended that the District conduct a referendum, restricting the request for money to only essential projects. The outcome was the successful 1975 "Save The Parks" referendum which authorized the Park District to increase the corporate tax rate from .125% to .175%, increase the recreation tax rate from .075% to .12%, and issue $537,000 in bonds for deferred maintenance projects and construction of a maintenance garage at Frontier Park. The 1976 referendum which authorized the Park District to issue bonds to construct the golf course, also authorized bonds of $1,300,000 for park development. The results of this referendum can be seen in the addition of the meeting rooms to Heritage Park; remodeling of the Recreation Park fieldhouse, Pioneer Park bathhouse, and Hasbrook Park fieldhouse into the Hasbrook Cultural Arts Center; full development of Centennial, Wildwood, Carousel and Victory neighborhood parks; and construction of additional tennis courts, and lighting of walkways, play areas, tennis courts, and the ball diamonds at Recreation Park, Centennial Park and Sunset Meadows.
The recreation program of the 1970's saw continued expansion to serve all age groups, all interests and all areas of the Village with the opening of Camelot, Frontier and Heritage Parks and swimming pools in 1970. Olympic Indoor Swim Center opened the same year and the District's popular learn-to-swim program became a year round activity. The operation of Olympic was unique in that the Park District and School District 214 shared the costs and the pool time. During the early 1970's, garden plots were planted at Prairie Park, the mobile recreation trailer brought playground programs back out to the neighborhood parks and the Arlington Heights Park District Bicycle Association was formed and began to map a bike path throughout the Village. New senior citizen activities included the Gold Key Card and bus service, sponsored by the Rotary Club, to Over 50 Club. The Northwest Special Recreation Association was formed in 1974, with the Arlington Heights Park District as one of the founding agencies, and began the task of offering recreational activities to special populations. The spirit of cooperation was evident in the Safety Town, Counselor-In-The-Park and Ecology Corps programs, all cooperative efforts between the Park District and the Village, school districts, Illinois Department of Labor, and the Junior Women's Club. During this time the Park District also entered into cooperative agreements with surrounding park districts including Mt. Prospect, Buffalo Grove, and Rolling Meadows for the use of facilities such as swimming pools and indoor ice rinks. The Park District continued to initiate new programs during the late 1970's including Body Rhythm and soccer.
On June 22, 1975, the Arlington Heights Park District celebrated its 50th Anniversary with a "Golden Summer Celebration" at Recreation Park. A full day of old time games and contests, an ice cream social, a balloon launch, free admission to the swimming pool, and musical concerts brought Arlington Heights residents to Recreation Park to share in the celebration.
Arlington Heights' Bicentennial Celebration, "Festival "76", was held at Recreation Park and each year since then, an annual Fourth of July "Frontier Days Festival" has been held at Recreation Park. Frontier Days is organized and run each year by the Arlington Heights Festival Committee, a large organization of volunteer citizens, with the cooperation of the Park District, the Village and a number of local businesses. Each year, the Committee donates profits from the Festival to various community projects. The Park District has been the beneficiary of numerous Festival grants including a grant for the summer outdoor concert series and a grant to support expenses to repair the Log Cabin at the Museum. Additionally, in 1988, the Park District and Frontier Days, Inc. signed an agreement to establish a special fund, which the Festival would contribute to each year, for the purpose of acquiring land adjacent to and improving Recreation Park. The Park District has used monies from the Recreation Park Expansion & Improvement Fund twice: $100,000 towards the purchase of 100 N. Hickory in 1993 and $100,000 towards the purchase of the Northwest Highway property in 1999.
During the early 1980's, the Park District's emphasis switched from acquisition, development and growth to maintaining and upgrading its parks and facilities. Renovations were completed at the community centers, Arlington Lakes Restaurant, and the Forest View Racquet Club. The original filter system and wading pool piping at Pioneer Park swimming pool was replaced in 1981. Playgrounds, tennis and basketball courts, and softball, baseball and soccer fields were renovated based upon a master plan Festival Park was developed in 1983 with a donation from the Arlington Heights Festival Committee on a lot leased from the Village. Located in the Historic Arlington Neighborhood, Festival Park was planned with resident input to reflect the character of the surrounding area. In 1984, Prairie Park was developed after serving as a garden plot site for thirteen years. The District received $86,000 in Community Development Block Grant Funds from the Village to develop the park, which is next to a low-income housing development.
The District issued $300,000 in bonds by ordinance in December 1983, for the first time since 1938, for the purpose of land acquisition and to upgrade the computer system. The land was acquired in 1984 and used to expand the acreage of two parks. Frontier Estates, 5.2 acres south of Frontier Park, was purchased for $155,000 and the Beile property, 2.3 acres north of Sunset Meadows, was purchased for $90,000.
Recreation programs continued to expand during the early 1980's. The health craze hit Arlington Heights along with the rest of the country and the District responded with all types of exercise classes for kindergartners through senior citizens. Day camps became popular again as more families sent both parents into the work force. The Park District's soccer program emerged in the 1980's as an extremely popular activity. Parent support of the program and the increase in participation led to the location of premier soccer fields at Olympic Park. In 1982, the District's recreation programs for senior citizens moved to Park Place Senior Center. Based on studies made by the Senior Citizens Commission, the Village leased a closed elementary school and remodeled it into Park Place. The Park District assisted in planning and designing the Center and was responsible for coordinating and funding the recreation programs. Park Place housed eight local service agencies that worked together to bring a well-rounded program to seniors.
The highlight of the early 1980's for the Arlington Heights Park District was when the District was named the 1983 National Gold Medal Award winner for excellence in park and recreation management in Class III (50,000-100,000 population). Presented annually by the National Sports Foundation, the Gold Medal is awarded based on the quality of service, improvements made during the previous five years, extent of future planning, participant involvement, and acceptance by the community.
In 1985 the Arlington Heights Park District celebrated 60 years of service to the community with various special events taking place at the Park District facilities and community centers. Admission prices at the pools were rolled back to 1930s prices, 10? children up to 13 years old, 20? for youth ages 13-19, and 25? for adults.
The Park District continued intergovernmental cooperation by signing an agreement in 1985 with the Arlington Heights Historical Society and the Village of Arlington Heights to continue providing services and programs at the Arlington Heights Historical Museum. The agreement established the Park Historical Committee. The Museum complex includes the 1882 home of F. W. Muller, the 1908 Banta House, a Log Cabin, and a Coach House, which tell the story of Arlington Heights over the last 160 years. The Museum and Historical Society have been the recipient of numerous awards and grants over the years including when the Nathaniel Moore Banta House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. Museum programs and special events continue to thrive and offer a unique leisure experience to the residents of Arlington Heights.
In 1986, the Arlington Heights Park District received a $200,000 Land and Water Conservation Fund matching grant for the renovation of Recreation Park swimming pool. Renovations on the pool began in September 1987, and the grand re-opening of Recreation Park Pool took place on June 25, 1988. The main pool was extended to 50 meters, the standard for long course competitive swimming, and a new zero depth wading pool was installed. Other features included a special deck surface, underwater lighting, a new concession area, and extensive landscaping. The new pool attracted the state Junior Olympic Swim Meet in 1990 and 1991, with over 500 swimmers participating each year. In 1989 and 1990, Recreation Park Community Center received a "facelift." The facade of the building was renovated to the original wood and brick "swiss" pattern and the first floor and gym were air-conditioned in 1989, and all exterior aluminum doors and windows were replaced with fire rated wood doors and windows in 1990.
Between 1986 and 1990 the Park District continued its land acquisition program, acquiring 11.1 acres of land through a transfer of title at the Lake Terramere Subdivision. Property was purchased at 7 and 27 North Belmont to expand Recreation Park, and Kingsbridge Arboretum was expanded by the "K-Mart Triangle" acquisition. At Olympic Park, 8.92 acres of land was purchased from School District #214. A $150,000 OSLAD grant was received for partial payment. Falcon Park (1.1 acres), Flentie Park (4.5 acres) and Carriage Walk Park (3.3 acres) were acquired in 1987. Also during this period, the Park District acquired Carefree Park (.6 acres), Creekside Park (22.4 acres), and Sunset Ridge Park (2.3 acres). In 1988, the District purchased Methodist Park for $900,000. The Methodist Park site is a "special use" park with three softball diamonds and one baseball diamond.
In 1987, the Park District purchased North School from School District #25. The school was renovated, and in September 1988 was dedicated as the new Park District Administration Center. The renovation included preserving the original woodwork throughout the building and combining the magnificent style of 1938 with the modern technology of today.
The Heritage Tennis Club proved to be an excellent acquisition for the Park District. Purchased in October 1987 and re-opened to the public in November 1987, the facility is located at the north end of the community, thus complementing the Forest View Racquet Club located at the south end of Arlington Heights. The building's roof was replaced immediately and a complete interior renovation of the club took place during the summer of 1988. Major renovations since opening include a new HVAC system and acoustic improvements in 1996 and a new lighting system and insulation in 2001. Arlington Heights is the only suburban Park District in Illinois that operates two indoor tennis/racquet clubs.
In the fall of 1989, the Park District began a special joint program with the Village and School District #25. The program known as Children at Play, or C.A.P., was designed to assist the working parent, providing recreational activities before and after school for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. In 1989, its first year of operation, the program served 150 children at six sites. School District #59 (Juliette Low School) joined the program in 1993 and School District #21 (Poe and Riley Schools) joined in 1996. During the 2002-2003 school year, the C.A.P. program served 691 children and their parents.
Both the Village of Arlington Heights and the Park District saw a unique opportunity to develop a downtown park and jointly purchased the North School Playlot (1.6 acres next to the Park District Administration Center) for $400,000 in 1988. Construction on the site began in the fall of 1990 with completion of the park in spring 1991. The park includes open space, a fountain, amphitheater/performance area, and playground. The Village Board of Trustees and the Park Board of Commissioners agreed the site would be called North School Park. Several fundraising programs were developed in conjunction with North School Park. A "Buy a Brick" program was initiated whereby individuals, organizations, and businesses could purchase an engraved brick paver to be included in North School Park. Also, two major donations were received, the fountain in memory of Virgil Horath and the playground in memory of Irving Robbin. The completion of North School Park saw the beginning of many new community oriented annual special events including a summer concert series, Autumn Harvest, and Holiday Lighting, which features beautiful lighted displays throughout the park.
Throughout the years the Park District has coordinated many types of intergovernmental agreements, not only with Arlington Heights' agencies but also with neighboring park districts to expand the delivery of leisure services to the community. Between 1988 and 1994 the Park District began several new joint efforts. A cooperative gymnastics programs with the Rolling Meadows Park District was started in 1988 and gardening programs with the Mt. Prospect Park District were started in 1990. An agreement was signed in 1990 with School District #23 to jointly construct a large community gymnasium addition at Betsy Ross School. A similar agreement was signed in 1994 with School District #21 for a large community gym addition at Edgar Allen Poe School. The agreements include Park District use of the gyms for recreation programs in the evenings and on weekends which allowed for expansion of youth and adult athletic leagues. In 1990, a cooperative agreement with School District #214 Community Education and the Mt. Prospect Park District was developed to provide adult volleyball and basketball leagues at the Forest View Education Center. Equally accessible playground equipment and a raised garden were installed at Rand-Berkley Park in 1989/90. The park was used by the special education students at Berkley School as well as the community. The project was completed by the Park District, School District #25, and the Northwest Special Recreation Association. An intergovernmental property exchange took place in 1992 with School District #25, with the Park District trading 6.3 acres at Greens Park for 7.06 acres at Rand Berkley School. In addition to the land, the Park District was given use of 2 ball diamonds and soccer fields at Thomas Middle School constructed by the School District with specifications supplied by the Park District.
Pioneer Park, originally built in 1956/57, received several improvements during the early 1990's. The 1990/91 project included new fencing around the swimming pool deck area, resurfacing the pool deck, installing brick pavers in the concession area, between the buildings and at the north entry to the center building; total reconstruction of the driveway and existing parking lot, installing a concrete walk along the driveway, and building a new parking lot in the hockey rink area. Other improvements to the community center building were new windows and doors in 1991 and central air conditioning in 1992.
In the fall of 1990 the Village of Arlington Heights dedicated Lake Arlington. Lake Arlington is a 93-acre site that includes a 50-acre detention lake and 11 acre native wetland. The Park District signed a lease agreement with the Village to program the recreational activities at the lake. Facilities at the site in addition to the lake include: a boathouse, a 2.4 mile bicycle/pedestrian path, picnic areas, playgrounds, boat dock, boat storage, and a nature study area. A total of $600,000 has been received in grants for site development. Organized recreational activities started on June 6, 1992, the official grand opening date, and emphasized paddleboat and sailboat rentals and sailing lessons. All phases of the Lake Arlington project were finished in 1995 with the completed construction of the boathouse.
The Arlington Heights Park District continued the tradition of excellence by being named the 1992 National Gold Medal Award winner for excellence in park and recreation management in Class III (50,000 - 100,000 population) after having qualified as a finalist from 1989-1991. Both Forest View Racquet and Fitness Club and Heritage Tennis Club were named by the United States Tennis Association as 1991 Outstanding Tennis Facilities. The Park District was named Member Organization of the Year by the Western Tennis Association in 1993 in recognition of the entire tennis program. In 1993 the District received the IPRA/IAPD Distinguished Park and Recreation Agency Certification, one of the first agencies to receive this honor. The District was re-evaluated and retained its recognition as a Distinguished Park and Recreation Agency in 1998. Every year since 1992, the District has received either the "Elite Gold" or "Elite Silver" National Aquatic Safety Award for the excellent performance rating achieved by the lifeguard staff. In 1995, 1996, and 1999, the Park District received excellent category rankings on the PDRMA insurance evaluation, which accredited the District through 2002. The Park District has received the Government Finance Officers Association Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for the Annual Audit each year since 1986.
The Park District purchased two pieces of property in 1993. The District purchased the former Weber-Stephen property, 3.3 acres of land east of Recreation Park at 100 N. Hickory, for $770,000 in June, using $100,000 from the Arlington Heights Park District/Frontier Days Recreation Park Expansion & Improvement Fund. Two existing buildings were demolished; the area was seeded and used to expand the green space at Recreation Park. The remaining building is used as a storage facility for the Park District. In August, the Park District purchased a 22,500 square foot industrial building at 1436 East Davis Street for $725,000. The building was updated and renovated as a centralized maintenance facility and tradesmen from Pioneer and Frontier Service Centers were relocated to the Davis Service Center in 1996.
After many years of negotiations, the Park District signed an agreement with the Village of Arlington Heights in 1992 to develop the "landfill site" on the north side of town. Groundbreaking was held at the site, officially named Nickol Knoll Park, in 1993. Facilities at the park include a nine-hole, par 3 golf course with clubhouse, ball field/soccer field, sled hill, and perimeter 1.25-mile bicycle/pedestrian path. Nickol Knoll opened for a partial season on July 29, 1995. The first full season of golf operations and park activities at Nickol Knoll began in spring, 1996, and the facility was officially dedicated on July 13, 1996. The first full season of operation saw over 20,000 rounds of golf played. At the end of its sixth full season, May 2001-April 2002, over 21,700 rounds of golf were played. Nickol Knoll is supported by an on-site Maintenance Service Center, which also serves as a fire-training academy and classroom for the Village of Arlington Heights.
In 1993, the Park District developed a master plan for Melas Park, a site owned by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, leased to the Village of Mt. Prospect and subleased to the Arlington Heights and Mt. Prospect Park Districts. Although previous agreements allowed for programming at the site, the Arlington Heights Park District's area remained largely unused and unimproved. A 1994 intergovernmental agreement between the four agencies permitted the Arlington Heights Park District to develop the property west of the access road into an athletic complex. Construction started in 1994 and a partial season of softball and volleyball games began in 1996. The first full season of play at Melas Park Sports Complex began on May 12, 1997, with the official dedication on June 28, 1997. The 35-acre facility includes four lighted softball fields, a handicapped accessible playground, sand volleyball courts, a concession/storage building, and a picnic area. A total of $400,000 in OSLAD grant money was received for the project. The perimeter and interior bicycle/pedestrian pathway system was developed with the Mt. Prospect Park District and completed in 1999 with a $500,000 Illinois First grant the Village of Mt. Prospect received through Representative Carolyn Krause in August 1998.
In early 1996, the Village of Arlington Heights and the Senior Citizen Commission began to look for a new site for the Park Place Senior Center. The old school building, which housed the Senior Center, was scheduled for demolition by School District 25 during the rebuilding of South Middle School on the same site. In November 1996, the Village purchased the eastern portion of the Central-Wilke Plaza shopping center for the new senior center and, in July 1997, the Park District signed an intergovernmental agreement with the Village of Arlington Heights for space in the new senior center. The new Arlington Heights Senior Center was dedicated on January 31, 1998. The Park District was responsible for the construction costs of the recreational areas and coordinating the recreation programs offered at the Center. Recreation facilities include the Arlington Athletic Club fitness center, a dance studio, an art studio, and a gift shop. In September 1999, the Park District and the Village signed an agreement to develop and operate a woodshop at the Senior Center, with the Village providing and maintaining the space, the Park District developing and conducting programs, and Senior Center, Inc. purchasing the initial equipment. The woodshop opened for classes and drop-in use in February 2000.
The Youth Commission of the Village of Arlington Heights and the Youth Skate Committee began to lobby the Village and the Park District for support of a park for skateboarding. In June 1998, the Park Board approved converting the two south tennis courts at Olympic Park into a skate park, allocated $10,000 in funding, and signed an agreement with the Lattoff YMCA in Des Plaines to manage the facility. After a month of building by Park District staff and Youth Skate Committee members, the Skate Park grand opening was held on September 19, 1998. Skating features include quarter-pipes, a spine box, and several small ramps for use by skateboarders and in-line skaters. The six members of the Youth Skate Committee were presented with the Illinois Park and Recreation Association/ Illinois Association of Park Districts' Community Service Award in March 1999. In early 1999, the Youth Skate Committee received a $4,000 grant from the Festival Committee for improvements to the Skate Park. With an additional $5,000 from the Park District, the Skate Committee was able to fund and build a small half pipe for the Park. The new Skate Park has become a popular destination for teen and pre-teen skating enthusiasts.
The Park District staff studied the five outdoor swimming pools in 1994 and concluded that four of the pools were aging and in need of major renovation or reconstruction. A 1995 facility evaluation by Water Technology, Inc. determined that Camelot, Frontier, and Heritage Park swimming pools were in fair to good condition for their age, however, Pioneer Park pool, 38 years old and corroding both inside and out, needed to be replaced. The Park District July 1997 Pool Renovation Strategy concluded that Pioneer Park Swimming Pool should be the first pool renovated. Through a series of staff and community meetings during the fall and winter of 1997-1998, a final design was developed and approved that maintained the characteristics of the neighborhood pool concept that is firmly established in Arlington Heights while providing a more modern design and facilities. The "old" Pioneer Park swimming pool closed for the season on August 16, 1998, with a "Something Old is New Again" good-bye party to celebrate 41 years of service and construction started the next day. The "new" Pioneer Park swimming pool opened on schedule on Saturday, June 12, 1999, featuring a swimming pool that ranges in depth from zero to five feet and includes walkout stairs with handrails, water play features including geysers and wall sprays, and a small water slide in the shallow end. The new wading pool ranges in depth from zero to fourteen inches and includes four in-pool geysers. The new diving pool features two one-meter diving boards and a 10-foot high drop slide. The new bathhouse provides larger locker rooms, two separate family dressing rooms, and an expanded concession area that serves both pool users and general park users. The mechanical building provides year-round restroom access for general park users and a warming room for ice skaters. The Park District received a $200,000 Open Space Land Acquisition and Development Grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for the Pioneer Park swimming pool reconstruction. .Pioneer Park's new swimming pool has proved to be extremely popular. Public swimming attendance almost doubled from the summer of 1998 to 1999, from 31,812 to 58,477 and was 50% more than attendance at the other four outdoor pools combined. During the summers of 2000 and 2001, attendance at Pioneer Park swimming pool averaged 43% higher than the combined attendance at the other outdoor pools.
The recreation programs of the 90's continued to grow in all areas. Summer day camps remained popular, particularly with the addition of before-and-after camp care for the benefit of working parents. The Arlington Heights Historical Museum offered different types of programs to Park District residents including period and holiday craft classes, programs for school and scout groups, and special events such as Civil War Days, German Fest, Holiday and Mother's Day Teas, the annual House Walk, and Irish Fest. The soccer program, which began in the late 70's, continued to grow as the number of house league and travel league teams increased each year. With the opening of Lake Arlington in 1992, the Park District began offering sailing lessons and camps. Sailing-tennis-golf and Adventure (canoeing-fishing-climbing) Camps were added in the late 90's. All of the Park District's visual and performing arts classes became the Arlington Academy of the Arts in 1996. Athletic programs retained their popularity with residents especially in the areas of volleyball and junior golf leagues. Several new annual special events began with the completion of North School Park, including a summer concert series, Autumn Harvest, and Holiday Lighting. Programs and activities for seniors increased in both number and attendance with the opening of the new Senior Center in 1998.
During the 1990's, computers and their related technology had a strong impact on the Park District. The District purchased its first computer, with two terminals, in 1978. That basic system has evolved into a complete area network with a personal computer on every desk. The system is used for accounting, budgeting, payroll, inventory control, registration, scheduling, publications, court/facility/participant usage, museum collection management, pool chemical control, energy management, employee and job training, and more. District employees use computers to create, store, retrieve, and share information and communicate with each other and with customers and vendors. The District's Employee Info Spot intranet site serves as the on-line information/resource site for employees and includes the most current information on human resources, benefits, safety, training, policies, procedures, forms, manuals, surveys, reports, the Comprehensive Plan, and more. The ever increasing amount of hardware and software and the need to manage and organize the data and information used on a day-to-day and long-term basis required the addition of new jobs: the Management Information Systems Supervisor position was approved in 1993, the Management Information Systems Technician was approved in 1998, and the Website Coordinator position was approved in 1999.
The District has used technology to provide residents with the convenience of 24-hour a day access to information and registration. Telephone registration for recreation programs began in the fall of 1997. The Arlington Heights Park District website, http://www.ahpd.org, went live on September 6, 1998. The website offers comprehensive District information, which is updated daily, including special promotions; the Program Guide; job and volunteer opportunities; a listing of all parks, facilities, staff and Board members; program, activity, and league information; and more. Program registration went online through the website in October 2000.
Beginning with the first seasonal park superintendent hired in 1926, the Park District staff has increased to 103 full-time and over 1,000 part-time, seasonal, and temporary employees and volunteers in 2002. Along with this growth in staff has come the explosive growth in federal, state, and local laws applying to safety, insurance, risk management, training, and personnel management. To adequately manage all of these functions, the Park Board approved two new jobs within the Finance and Personnel Department: a Training Supervisor position was approved in December 1993 and a Human Resources Supervisor position was approved in February 1997. In 2002, the Human Resources Supervisor was upgraded to a Superintendent level position.
Land acquisition for the purpose of expanding existing parks continued to be a priority for the Park District during the late 1990's and 2000. In 1997, the District purchased one acre of land from Southminster Presbyterian Church at a cost of $338,000 to expand Dryden Park. In March 1999, the District purchased the .4 acre Schwantz property (2100 N. Fernandez Ave.) for $215,000 and, in October 2000, purchased .67 acres of land at 2004 N. Fernandez Ave. for $550,000. Both of these properties are adjacent to Frontier Park. The District purchased 1.3 acres of land on the southeast side of Recreation Park along Northwest Highway (500, 506, & 510 East) for $840,000 in July 1999, using $100,000 from the Arlington Heights Park District/Frontier Days Recreation Park Expansion & Improvement Fund. In July 2000, the District purchased .2 acres of land at 17 S. Belmont adjacent to Recreation Park for $348,000.
Recognizing the need to plan for the long term recreation and facility needs of the community and to analyze current commitments and resources for future development, the Park District completed two extensive surveys in 1999. The Community Needs Assessment, a district-wide survey conducted by Management Learning Laboratories, reported the recreation needs, attitudes, interests, and opinions of the residents. Major results indicated that the 40 year old system of neighborhood parks and recreation facilities were an asset to the neighborhoods and enhanced the quality of life and property values in Arlington Heights and that the preferred way to fund parks, programs and facilities was a combination of user fees and taxes. Respondents indicated they wanted well maintained, upgraded and modernized facilities. MLL stated the results should be used for short-term and long-term planning for programming, facility maintenance and renovation, and land acquisition. The Facilities Evaluation and Conceptual District Plan, conducted by Pollock Holzrichter Nicholas, Ltd., evaluated the existing conditions of the swimming pools and recreation centers at Camelot, Frontier, Heritage, Pioneer, and Recreation Parks, Olympic Indoor Swim Center, and Hasbrook Cultural Arts Center. The Plan recommended that the Park District develop a long range program to maintain, renovate, remodel, and replace these facilities to insure that they will continue to meet the needs of the community into the 21st century.
During 1999 and 2000, the Park District was fortunate to be the recipient of several legislative grants from our elected State Senators and Representatives through the Illinois First Program that helped fund a number of planned projects. The 1999 grants included: $70,000 from Senator Dave Sullivan to renovate and rebuild the soccer fields at Patriots Park; $500,000 from Representative Carolyn Krause to remodel the south wing of the Administration Center; $100,000 from Representative Sidney Mathias to rebuild the playground at Lake Terramere Park; $50,000 from Representative Suzanne Bassi to renovate the athletic fields at Rand Berkley Park; and $130,000 from Senator Wendell Jones to renovate the walking paths at Hasbrook Park. Grants received during 2000 included: $50,000 from Senator Wendell Jones to rebuild the playground at Greenbrier Park; $90,000 from Representative Suzanne Bassi to rebuild the playground at Hasbrook Park; $25,000 from Representative Sidney Mathias to rebuild the playground at Sunset Ridge Park; and $105,000 from Senator David Sullivan to renovate the ball diamond lighting on Meyer Field at Recreation Park.
On June 9, 2000, the Arlington Heights Park District celebrated its 75th anniversary with a Picnic In The Park at North School Park featuring music and food. The celebration continued on the next day with free admission to all the outdoor swimming pools and featured games, contests, prizes and special concession prices.
The beginning of the 21st century has seen the Park District expand programs and services, renovate facilities, and continue its tradition of excellence. The Arlington Heights Park District was awarded the 2001 National Gold Medal for excellence in park and recreation management. As a third time recipient of this prestigious award, the Park District joined an elite group of nine agencies throughout the United States that have been so honored. The new swimming pool at Pioneer Park was named an Outstanding Facility in 2000 by the Illinois Park and Recreation Association and the Park District website received the 2000 NRPA Marketing and Communications KUDOS Award for Class II for Best Website/Homepage Promoting Recreation. The Park District's annual budget for the fiscal year beginning May 1, 1999 (May 1999-April 2000) received the Government Finance Officers Association Distinguished Budget Presentation Award and has received the award for every budget document since.
Knowing that the ability to finance capital projects through non-referendum general obligation bonds would be lost in 2001 due to the Tax Cap, the Park Board decided to request a 15? rate increase in the Corporate Fund through a referendum held in March 2000. The purpose of the tax rate increase was to generate funds to maintain and upgrade the existing neighborhood centers, pools, parks and facilities as well as acquiring land and developing new parks. The referendum failed and voter feedback indicated that the tax dollars requested should be reduced and limited in duration and that specific projects with timelines for completion should be identified.
In November 2000, the Park District went back to the community and asked for approval to issue $15 million in general obligation bonds to replace, construct and improve the swimming pools at Camelot, Frontier, Heritage, and Olympic Parks. The District indicated that construction on the first project would start in 2001 and that all projects would be completed in three years. This referendum passed and the process to replace the 31-year old outdoor swimming pools at Frontier, Camelot, and Heritage Parks began immediately.
The first phase the pool reconstruction projects included developing architectural plans, using the design features of the new swimming pool at Pioneer Park as a starting point, and the decision was made to rebuild all three pool complexes at one time to lessen the impact on the public. After a series of staff and community meetings, the final plans presented the new Frontier, Camelot, and Heritage Park swimming pools as neighborhood pools which would be capable of handling all the current aquatic programs offered by the Park District and also offer modern amenities. The main swimming pools at each facility were modified slightly to give a different appearance and each facility was developed with a unique color scheme and water play features. The "old" swimming pools at Frontier, Camelot, and Heritage Parks closed for the season on August 12, 2001, with a good-bye party to celebrate 32 years of service and construction started the next day. The "new" swimming pool complexes opened on schedule in June 2002 and each includes a new leisure swimming pool that ranges in depth from zero to 3 feet and includes walkout stairs with handrails; recessed ladders; an underwater bench seat with bubblers; and water play features including geysers, wall sprays, and a small water slide in the shallow end. The leisure pool is attached to a six-lane lap pool which ranges in depth from 3 ? to 5 feet. The new wading pools range in depth from zero to 18 inches and include in-pool geysers and side sprays. Camelot's wading pool also includes a small water slide. New spray ground areas include geysers and different water-play features at each park. The new diving pools are 12 feet deep and are different at the three swimming complexes: Camelot's diving pool included a one-meter diving board, a drop slide, and stairs across one end of the pool while the diving pools at Frontier and Heritage include one-meter and three-meter diving boards and an extended area of 12-foot water for deep water play. The pool deck areas include four large shade umbrellas and an adult deck area with a sunshade. The bathhouses were remodeled and updated, two new family changing rooms were added, the lifeguard offices were extended for better supervision, and the concession areas were expanded. The Park District received a $400,000 Open Space Land Acquisition and Development Grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for the pool reconstruction at Frontier Park. The swimming pool complexes at Camelot, Frontier, and Heritage Parks proved to be extremely popular. Public swim attendance from the summer of 2001 to 2002 almost doubled at Camelot Park, from 13,726 to 26,815, and more than doubled at Frontier Park, from 12,490 to 35,401, and Heritage Park, from 11,937 to 29,589.
Renovation of the indoor swimming pool at Olympic Park began in April 2001 with design and development. Following several public meetings and many discussions with High School District 214, whose swim teams used the indoor pool for practices and meets, about a combined effort to renovate and expand the pool, a plan was approved by the Park Board in December 2002. Olympic Indoor Swim Center was closed on May 9, 2003 and construction started immediately. When the swim center reopens in May 2004, new features will include a zero-depth leisure pool with water play features, deepening of the existing lap pool to accommodate new swim competition regulations, updated locker rooms, family changing rooms, and lighting, acoustical, code-required, and ADA required improvements.
The early 2000's brought several changes to the Park District. Technology continued to dictate progress at the Park District including online registration for programs through the website beginning in October 2000 and the Museum's website, www.ahmuseum.org, going online in July 2000. The Arlington Heights Park Foundation was founded in May 2001 to further public interest in parks and recreation and to preserve our natural resources in Arlington Heights. One of its goals is to work with other associations to organize, promote and coordinate volunteer activities to enhance Park District programs. Foundation fund raising provides scholarships, equipment and sponsorships, and open space conservation. The Park District adopted a new logo in October 2001. A new program to recognize Park District employees who demonstrate commitment to Customer satisfaction, Leadership, Attitude, Service and Safety, or CLASS, began in June 2002. Both full- and part-time employees maybe nominated for the quarterly award by District residents or fellow staff members.
Facility renovations since 2000 include the 2001 renovation of the south annex wing of the Administration Center. The annex was built in the 1950's adding kindergarten and first grade classrooms to the original 1938 North School building. The Park District purchased the building in 1987 from School District 25 and renovated the former school into the Administration Center, which opened in September 1988. Work on the annex was funded with a $500,000 State of Illinois legislative grant secured by Representative Carolyn Krause. The annex was formally dedicated by Representative Krause on October 6, 2001 and programs began using the facilities on October 30, 2001. The renovation included remodeling two existing rooms into combination dance studio/meeting rooms, with a room divider for added flexibility; providing a program viewing/waiting room for families; improving the west parking lot entrance to the building; creating two outdoor accessible restrooms for North School Park events; and creating a receiving area for bulk delivery and increasing the storage area for program supplies. The Heritage Gallery at the Arlington Heights Historical Museum opened in November 2000. The Gallery, which replaced the Country Store, is located in the Old Soda Pop Factory building and specializes in local history exhibits drawn from the Historical Society's collections along with national and regional traveling exhibits. The Gallery has received $18,400 in community grants to fund exhibits. Since 2000, the Museum and Historical Society have received $174,692 in grants for the climate control project, HVAC improvements, special events and programming, and exhibits.
On May 13, 2000, Payton's Hill was dedicated at Nickol Knoll Golf Club in honor of Chicago Bear football great, Walter Payton. During his eight years as an Arlington Heights resident, Payton ran the hill while in training. Payton died in November 1999 from liver cancer and residents requested a memorial on the spot which had long been called "Payton's hill." The memorials include a bronze plaque at the clubhouse, a second bronze plaque at the overlook on the top of the hill, and a display of Payton memorabilia in the clubhouse. The plaques were donated by the First Northwest Bank of Arlington Heights.
The redevelopment of the ball diamond at Prairie Park into Rotary Field was a cooperative venture between the Park District and the Arlington Heights Youth Athletic Association. The renovation plan, which added sideline and homerun fencing; players dugouts with roofs, cement floors and protected warm-up bullpens; and an electronic scoreboard; and resurfaced the field, was proposed by the AHYAA. Youth Athletic secured funding in the form of a $25,000 donation from the Arlington Heights Noon Rotary Club, a $20,000 Illinois First grant from Senator David Sullivan, and private donations and the Park District did the work. Rotary Field was dedicated and opened for play on April 28, 2002 and is home to boy's baseball house league games for 3rd-6th grades, girl's softball house league games for all levels, 6th grade and under boy's baseball travel league games and girl's softball travel league games.
Park District recreation programs during the early 21st century continued to grow in all areas. Synergy, a new dance company for dedicated dancers open by audition, was started in fall 2000 and performs and competes throughout the year. The Park District signed agreements with the Buffalo Grove Park District in 2000 and the Wheeling Park District in 2002 to program and conduct summer outdoor tennis lessons. Participation in athletic activities remained high with growth in soccer, youth and adult volleyball and adult softball. Special events increased in number with new events being held, including Janus Theatre, a historical United States flag display, the Arlington Heights Art Guild Art Show, and the Arlington Criterium Classic bike race at North School Park; Haunted Halloween and the Melinda the Mermaid series at Lake Arlington; Arlington Eve, sponsored by the Historical Society, and History on Stage at the Museum; and the Soccer Parade, Family Fun Fair, Polar Express Train Ride, Family Swim & Campout, and school holiday day camps. Public swim, swim lessons and the interpark swim teams all increased in number with the opening of the new swimming pools at Camelot, Frontier, Heritage, and Pioneer Parks. JAZ, the Junior Activity Zone, was introduced for the 2002/2003 school year and is offered in partnership with the Village of Arlington Heights and School District 25. JAZ is an after school program for middle school students held at the Arlington Heights Teen Center, with students bused from their middle schools. The Park District provides a site supervisor at the Teen Center and JAZ students are allowed to choose their own activities including doing homework, socializing or playing games. Programs and activities continue to increase at the Senior Center with offerings during the day and evening Monday through Friday, Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons, and monthly attendance topped the 5,000 mark for the first time during April 2002. During 2002, the non-senior program fees were eliminated, offering one fee for all programs at the Senior Center, however, priority registration is given to adults age 55 and over.
The Arlington Heights Park District continues to offer new and innovative programs, expand existing programs and services, and maintain a capital improvement schedule to renovate and update facilities and general infrastructure. The community of Arlington Heights will continue to be served through a network of 58 parks including five community parks with outdoor swimming pools and community centers along with a myriad of special facilities including Olympic Indoor Swim Center, Hasbrook Cultural Arts Center, the Historical Museum, Forest View Racquet and Fitness Club, Arlington Lakes Golf Club, Sunset Meadows Driving Range, Nickol Knoll Golf Club, Lake Arlington, Melas Park Sports Complex, and Heritage Tennis Club.