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Expanding Use of Organic Products Across Park System

Eight park locations to be maintained naturally will be monitored for two-year period

A three-month review of park maintenance practices by Park District staff culminated with a presentation of their findings at the Park Board meeting on Thursday, September 21st. Parks staff presented to board members and residents representing the group, Non-Toxic Naperville, the District’s plan for expanding its use of non-synthetic (aka “organic”) products across its jurisdiction for park maintenance purposes.

Using organic products and environmental practices has been on the radar of the Naperville Park District for quite a while now. From maintaining Knoch Park with organic products since 2004 and the implementation of the employee-led Green Team since 2009, District board and staff have continued to demonstrate the importance of integrating environmentally-friendly practices into the organization’s operations.

At Thursday’s board meeting, the District took an additional step in the direction of increased environmentalism by committing to growing its scope of parks maintained using organic products from one location to eight. Additionally, the District will continue with its decision made earlier this summer to use only organic products within, and in the immediate vicinity of, playgrounds.

“Being good stewards of the environment and of our community ties directly into the District’s core values,” explained Ray McGury, executive director. “Using organic products and implementing environmentally-friendly practices has been an evolution for us as an organization. Given the fact that more effective alternatives for maintaining natural turf and park spaces are now available in quantities that our staff can work with efficiently in addition to more economical costs, the time is right for us to increase our scope in this regard.”

The eight parks that the District chose were selected for their varying amenities and locations. The goal is for residents to have a choice of several different parks that will be maintained using only non-synthetic products. The list of parks includes: College Park, Columbia Commons, Cress Creek Park, Crestview Knoll, Dorothea Weigand Riverfront Park, Kingshill Park, Knoch Park and Kroehler Park.

These locations will be monitored for the next two years and soil samples will be taken to measure its health, which impacts the turf and foliage. Provided the products work satisfactorily, the District would plan to expand its use of organic products to additional locations in the future.

Elizabeth Catherwood, Naperville resident and representative of Non-Toxic Naperville said, “I am thrilled that we all were able to come together to make this great change for kids and families in Naperville.”


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Funds raised through the Naperville Parks Foundation support the Naperville Park District’s Fee Assistance Program. The Naperville Parks Foundation supports the recreation needs and desires of the residents of Naperville – encouraging health and wellness, fitness, family time, and fun. The Foundation supports the mission of making recreation of all kinds accessible to everyone across the community, regardless of socioeconomic circumstances.

On Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011 Naperville Park District officials heard the good news for which they have been waiting for many months: the District has achieved national accreditation through the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA).

The decision was announced at the NRPA national conference in Atlanta following a formal hearing before the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA).

Naperville is only the second park district in Illinois to earn this distinction and the 104th nationally accredited agency in the nation; there are more than 10,000 recreation agencies in the United States. The Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies accredits a handful of park agencies each year that have completed a multi-step process involving a self-review by the agency, a site visit, and an evaluation and formal report by the Commission.

“We are extremely proud to bring this honor to Naperville,” said Park District Executive Director Ray McGury. “It’s an affirmation of our high standards and also an encouragement to continue bringing high quality recreation and parks experiences to our community.”

The Park District’s accreditation process began approximately one year ago and included an extensive self-evaluation by staff and a 5-day visit from CAPRA reviewers this past July. Maintaining the accreditation requires annual reports and 5- and 10-year reviews.

Park District staff members noted that the CAPRA process has helped them see the big picture, focus on long term goals and plans, review plans more regularly, organize documents so that they are accessible and useable, and collaborate more effectively with other departments and outside organizations.

Our Mission
We provide recreation and park experiences that promote healthy lives, healthy minds and a healthy community.
Our Vision
To be a national leader in parks and recreation providing and promoting high quality experiences and facilities at a great value to our community.
Core Values
Health and Wellness, Environmental Education, Stewardship and Sustainability, Community Enrichment, Public Safety, Accessibility, Personal Growth and Enrichment.
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