When the Batavia Park District was created in 1969, it operated for 18 months without tax funding, owned no park land, and offered just a handful of recreational programs.
Today, the Park District operates with a budget of $3.5 million, manages over 350 acres of park land and serves about 100,000 patrons annually. It is an important contributor to the community's social, recreational and economic life.
Since its establishment, the District has done the following:
- Kept pace with patron requests for recreational and leisure activities by offering hundreds of programs quarterly and annually for everyone from tots to octogenarians;
- Created a park within walking distance of most homes;
- Pioneered the development of bike trails which established Batavia as the hub of a tri-county bike trail system (in cooperation with Geneva, St. Charles and Kane County);
- Participated in a unique public-private collaboration to create the Batavia Riverwalk;
- Purchased and renovated a landmark structure which is now called the Eastside Community Center.
Click here to view a historical document that lists all the Park Board Commissioners by year and office since the existence of the Batavia Park District.
The Batavia Park District was formed in 1969. The first commissioners were Donna Dallesasse, C.C. McCune, Eldon Frydendall, Mary Snow and James Anderson.
A vote of 615-388 established the Park District and soon the commissioners began to rent space at the Civic Center.
The first tax was levied in 1970. The first funding was received in mid-1971. At the time, Batavia 's population was 8,994.
The first director was hired in 1971. The City of Batavia transferred park lands, including the Quarry, to the Park District's jurisdiction.
In 1971, an 1855 Aurora and Chicago Branch railroad depot (located at Webster and Van Buren Street ) was acquired.
The depot relocated to Houston Street . Two large properties, Blackard Park and the Batavia Boat Club were also purchased.
The depot was dedicated in 1975 as the Depot Museum .
Memorial Park was acquired in 1975. The park's size still accommodates picnics and playgrounds, baseball and soccer games, and tennis courts.
The first segment in the future Fox River Trail system on the east side of town was developed, attracting riders, joggers and walkers.
Engstrom Park was acquired and developed in 1982.
The size of the Fox River Trail system doubled with the development of the west side trail. Bicyclers can access hundreds of miles of bike trails ( Fox River, Prairie Path, Virgil Gilman, Great Western) in all directions.
The land for Big Woods Park was acquired in 1986. The park opened in 1988.
One of the first major expansions was underway as the District acquired and renovated the Civic Center . A new gymnasium, lobby, registration area, offices and classroom space were added, roughly doubling the facility's size. A meeting room space was named after the Bartholomew Family, donors of the building, honoring their request that community groups always have a meeting place.
Batavia 's population: 17,076, a 36% increase since 1980.
The acquisition of a new maintenance facility at 700 South River Street replaced an aging facility located at Blackard Park .
The Quarry Park renovation started as the swimming season closed.
Construction initiated on the Riverwalk, a partnership between the Park District, the City and the community. Volunteers laid bricks, assisted with the construction and engaged in fundraising efforts. View map of the Riverwalk map.
The Quarry Park re-opened to record crowds.
The Park District celebrated its 25th anniversary with the unveiling of a new railroad exhibit and a re-dedication of the caboose at the Depot Museum .
Feasibility studies recommended the acquisition of a downtown landmark, the former Holy Cross Church . For the first time in its history, the District asked voters to approve a tax transfer referendum that would provide funds to purchase and renovate the property for a community center.
Voters overwhelmingly approved the referendum. The Eastside Center was acquired.
The Eastside Community Center was dedicated in 1996. Batavia 's population rose to 21,600, a 26% increase since 1990.
Millview Park was dedicated in June.
The Park District received three $50,000 grants (from the State of Illinois, Batavia Historical Society and the Kane County Grand Victoria Riverboat Fund) to build a research center where a large collection of historical documents could be stored and made accessible to researchers.
- The Peg Bond Center was dedicated on June 13, 1998.
- The Batavia Riverwalk was dedicated in the fall of 1998.
Ground was broken in the fall of 1999 to construct the research center addition to the Depot Museum.
- Hartfield Park opened to the public, making history as the Batavia Park District's first park to open in North Aurora.
- The Fox River Bike Trail and pedestrian bridge was dedicated this year.
The dedication of the Gustafson Research Center took place in June of 2000. The name Gustafson Research Center was chosen to honor John Gustafson and his brothers and sisters who were the first Batavians to see the vision of a viable historical society and who began collecting artifacts and cataloging them to preserve Batavia's heritage.
- The Batavia Park District hires its first Director of Marketing and Public Relations. The quarterly program guide changes its format from a tabloid, newspaper-size to an 8 1/2 x 11 booklet size.
- Fidler Farm Park was dedicated and recognized as the Batavia Park District's first park to open in the City of Aurora.
- West Main Community Park was dedicated on May, 19, 2002
- The Batavia Skate Park opens with a celebration and kick-off event on June 29, 2002 hosting a crowd of 450 excited teenagers.
- The South Riverwalk Plaza, adjacent to the city government building, opens to the public in July, 2002.
- Prairie Path Park was dedicated on June 14, 2003. This 15-acre park development thrived from the synergy of intergovernmental cooperation. Partners in this development with the Park District included the Batavia School District, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Batavia Youth Baseball, Tri-City Soccer Association and the City of Batavia.
- Jones Meadow Park was specifically designed to meet the needs of several children in the neighborhood with special needs. This park is located in North Aurora but is within the boundaries of the Batavia Park District. The dedication ceremony for this park took place on October 18, 2003.
In September, the Batavia Depot Museum hosted a 3-day event celebrating the 150th birthday of the Depot. As part of the celebration, a permanent Railroad History exhibit was installed. The exhibit tells the story of Batavia's local rail history and contains artifacts, photographs, and an interactive exhibit for visitors. The exhibit was dedicated on September 11, 2004.
The development of Wind Energy Park, a neighborhood park in the Prairie Trails South subdivision, was planned with the assistance of a very active neighborhood group who went so far as to holding their own park naming contest. A dedication ceremony was held on September 18, 2004.
- In March 2005, the Batavia Park District was awarded a $400,000 OSLAD grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for the shoreline stabilization and beautification efforts at the Clark Island Recreation Area.
- After many years of heavy use by the community, the Memorial Park playground received a much needed facelift. A local company, J.C. Schultz Enterprises Inc., generously donated a new flag pole for the site. A rededication ceremony was held on May, 28, 2005 to honor Batavian's who have served our country throughout the city's history.
- The quarterly program guide moves from a two-color spread into a four-color magazine adding high definition photos of program participants.
- Levi Newton Park was dedicated on July 17, 2005.
- The Batavia Park District launches an improved Web site featuring an interactive parks and facilities map, events calendar, on-line registration, and many other interactive modules.