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History of IAPD
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Watch a historical video about the Illinois Association of Park Districts.

History of the Illinois Association of Park Districts

The Illinois Association of Park Districts (IAPD), headquartered in Springfield, has been serving park districts, forest preserves, conservation and recreation agencies since 1928. The IAPD is the oldest and most successful statewide association of its kind in the nation. As a grass-roots organization, IAPD's voice for parks, recreation and conservation is strong and respected throughout Illinois and the United States.


  • According to the 1929 president's address of Fred J. Bohn, IAPD's second president and a park official from Chicago's River Park District, the "progressive founders” of the Illinois Association of Park Districts met each other in the halls of the State Capitol in Springfield as early as 1927. Representatives from the Small Parks Association of Cook County, established in 1922, and park officials from other counties of the state were there seeking legislation to change several laws that affect park districts. (The law enabling creation of special districts called park districts was enacted on June 24, 1895.)

  • Bohn says that nothing formal was done, however, until the services of A.D. McLarty, secretary of the Illinois Municipal League, were secured to organize the association in 1928. The historianfor the Illinois Municipal League paints the picture of McLarty as entrepreneurial in his interest to start a separate association for park districts. Too, he says, it was difficult to do business at the State Capitol, meeting with a legislator on one day wearing a hat for city municipalities and the next wearing one for park district issues, especially when the issues conflicted.

  • Regardless of motive, McLarty's efforts to create a statewide organization of park district officials met with great enthusiasm from leaders of Illinois park districts. McLarty sent a questionnaire to park district officials in March 9, 1928. A summary of results from these communications was published and sent to park officials on March 30 of that year with an invitation to attend an organizational meeting May 17 and 18 in the Rose Room of the Hotel Sherman in Chicago. The State of Illinois' James R. Thompson Center now stands on the site of the Sherman Hotel, which was demolished in 1980.

  • This resolution approved at this meeting called for formal creation of a "Parks Organization Section” of the Illinois Municipal League, with separate officers and committees. The association operated in this way, as a section, for the first two years of its existence.

  • McLarty became the association's first secretary and he served continuously in this capacity until July 1, 1943, when he resigned to enter the U.S. Navy during World War II. The association's first president, Dr. Joseph Cullen Blair, was head of the University of Illinois Department of Horticulture and president of the Urbana Park District. Blair also served as IAPD's treasurer from 1931 to 1933 and maintained a so-called "fatherly interest” in the association throughout his lifetime.

  • The first annual conference of the newly organized statewide organization was held in Joliet and attended by 38 representatives from 16 park districts. According to a published report from the event, there was "open discussion on the problems of park districts, which brought some interesting facts” plus "valuable time for park district officials to become better acquainted and address legislation.” These components—education, networking, discussions among board members and legislative updates—remain mainstays of IAPD's annual conference.

  • The Illinois Association of Park District gets its name with the 1930 constitution, adopted and amended on October 17, 1930, at the annual conference held in Springfield. The purpose of IAPD was stated as follows: "to serve as a mutual agency for cooperation among park districts of the State in the practical study and in the opportunity for discussion of park district problems; park policy and administration; gather and circulate information and experience on park district affairs; to secure legislation beneficial to and to oppose legislation injurious to the park districts.”
  • 1937
  • IAPD holds its first regional meeting in Oak Park on February 16, 1937, attended by officials from 25 park boards. Designed to foster networking among neighboring agencies and as a way to bring non-members into the association, these roundtables were held throughout the state. In 1977 they were called "Drive-Ins.” In 1994, they became "Regional Roundtables,” a term still used today.

  • The Illinois Park Board Bulletin is first published as the statewide newsletter for the Illinois Association of Park Districts. Previous publications were limited to reports published in the Park Board Section of the Illinois Municipal Review and copies of convention summaries.


  • On July 15, 1941, the association lobbied for Senate Bill 184, which authorized park districts to levy the .05% recreation tax. It was approved by Governor Dwight Herbert Green.

  • For the first time, the Illinois Recreation Association or IRA (now called the Illinois Park and Recreation Association) held its annual convention at the same time and place as the IAPD with several joint sessions. It wasn't until 1960 that the two associations continuously held joint conferences.


  • In June of 1948, the association's publication was renamed as Illinois Parks and resized to a smaller format. The new size was not as well accepted as anticipated, so two years later the traditional magazine size of 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches was re-instituted.


  • On May 17, 1951, Governor Adlai Stevenson signed the historic Park Law Codification Bill, combining all the laws relating to park districts in one section of state law. The legislation was initiated six years earlier by the members of the IAPD Codification Committee. The number of IAPD member districts organized in the 55-year-period (1896 to 1950) before codification was 94; in the 37 years after codification (1951-1988), 150 districts were organized.


  • On June 1, 1953, the association become a full-time organization with a full-time executive director, Marjorie M. Dickinson. Dickinson is recognized as giving the most continuous and valuable service to the early days of the organization. From 1928 to 1943 she served as assistant to A.D. McLarty, then as secretary of the association until October 1, 1944. She served as executive director until 1965, and was named Executive Director Emeritus upon her retirement in 1966.


  • On September 22, 1954, the association organized its Past Presidents' Club. The group was composed of past presidents still active as park commissioners. Later, membership is extended to any interested past presidents. The club, reportedly, was not as active as it was hoped to be. A Past Presidents Breakfast has been held each year at the association's conference. Past IAPD board members now are loosely organized as the "Ambassadors Club” and serve as advisors and representatives as well as  in new member recruitment.


  • IAPD begins to sell exhibit space at its annual conference for park equipment, supply and service firms. At the 1957 conference, there were 18 exhibitors.


  • Tort liability becomes one of the most frequently asked questions of IAPD members. Until the Illinois Supreme Court handed down on May 22, 1959, Molitor vs. Kaneland Community Unit School District No. 302 (18 Ill. 2d 11), Illinois park districts are to be held immune from tort liability by the courts under the common law rule, and the courts indicated that the park district was wholly lacking in its authority to use park district funds to pay premiums on liability insurance.


  • IAPD and IPRA hold their annual conferences jointly in Joliet and then in Springfield. In a 1962 publication of the IAPD, it was noted: "simultaneous meetings have provided more varied programs perhaps than otherwise, have broadened the attendance and given a larger field for exhibitors. Such meetings no doubt helped to support the idea of consolidation of recreation departments/commissions with park districts."


  • Governor Otto Kerner appoints the association's legal-legislativeconsultant, Robert A. Stuart, to serve as a member of the Torts Law Commission, created by the 72nd General Assembly to codify and make uniform the various statutes relating to immunity of liability of the various municipalities and quasi-municipalities of the state.

  • Sections 5-2(a) and 5-2(b) were added to the Park District Code to permit the functions of a municipal recreation commission to be merged with and assumed by a park district.

  • At the 1961 annual conference, the association adopted a report on standards for professional park and recreation personnel. The study, headed by IAPD president Henry O. Gleiss, president of the Skokie Park District, was undertaken to give park and recreation boards guidance in the selection of personnel; to give colleges and universities guidance in developing curricula for better preparation of professional personnel; and to encourage men and women to seek a career in parks and recreation.


  • IAPD holds the first annual IAPD Commissioners Seminar, a training opportunity for newly elected park officials.


  • IAPD and IPRA agree by resolution to jointly produce the statewide bimonthly magazine, renamed Illinois Parks & Recreation and to jointly sponsor the annual conference. These resolutions marked the first of many formal agreements between IAPD and IPRA.


  • Park districts receive authorization to levy a tax for joint recreational programs for the disabled and authorization to levy a tax for the organization and maintenance of a park police system.


  • Legislation passed adding article 11.2 to the Park District Code, authorizing creation of a working cash fund and the levy of .025%.


  • IAPD celebrates its 50th anniversary with a dinner program held at Forum 30 in Springfield. A telegram from President Jimmy Carter was read as well as a letter from Governor James R. Thompson in "appreciation for the great contribution of IAPD to the success of parks and recreation in Illinois."

  • The first IAPD/IPRA Legislative Golf Outing is held at Wheeling Park District's Chevy Chase Golf Course, which since has grown to host 280 golfers each year.


  • Robert M. Artz, nationally recognized park and recreation professional and the newly hired IAPD executive director, tragically dies in a DC-10 plane crash in Chicago.

  • Legislation passes increasing the additional corporate tax from .05% to .25%.


  • Ted Flickinger, Ph.D., CAE, becomes executive director of the association.

  • IAPD's legal counsel Peter M. Murphy joins the association as director of governmental services. Previously he served as staff attorney for the Legislative Reference Bureau of the Illinois General Assembly. Also a certified association executive, he begins the first annual IAPD Legal Symposium this year as well as the annual Legislative Conference and Reception.

  • Legislation passes increasing the non-referendum bonding ability of park districts 15%.

  • From 1980 to 1988 the IAPD passed more legislation than was passed in the previous 52 years of its existence.


  • Legislation passes doubling the museum tax.

  • The first Allan A. Weissburg "Commissioner of the Year" Award is presented to Robert Nichols of Bensenville Park District. Considered IAPD's highest honor, the award recognizes commissioner involvement on the local, state and national levels. Weissburg, a commissioner from the Skokie Park District, was the IAPD president in 1974.


  • The "Life. Be in It." campaign debuts in Illinois, stressing the importance of being active every day. June 4, 1983, was declared "Life. Be In It." Day by Governor Thompson.


  • IAPD spearheads the efforts of a number of groups to seek funding from the Build Illinois program to support grants to units of local government under the Open Space Lands Acquisition Act or OSLA (renamed OSLAD in 1989). For the fiscal year beginning July 1, 1986, $4 million was designated for the OSLA.

  • Legislation passes to create the Illinois Park District Liquid Asset Fund Plus (IPDLAF+), which provides comprehensive financial services exclusively for Illinois park districts.

  • IAPD took a leadership role as a founding member of the Illinois Coalition on the Insurance Crisis, which resulted in passage of Senate Bill 1200 and major tort reform.

  • As a result of a study conducted by IAPD (in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Conservation, the University of Illinois and Illinois State University), the Governor's Conference on the Economic Significance of Recreation--the first meeting of its kind in the nation--is held in Illinois.


  • Legislation was initiated and passed doubling the Special Recreation Association (SRA) tax and removing the referendum requirement, increasing the bid limit from $4,000 to $19,000.

  • IAPD became a member of Governor Thompson's newly formed Partners in Conservation coalition, which ultimately developed into the Conservation Congress. The Department of Conservation's publication, Outdoor Highlights, began its presence in Illinois Parks & Recreation magazine as an occasional insert.

  • IAPD occupies its new headquarters at 211 East Monroe Street, located 100 yards from the State Capitol. Partners in Progress contributions to the building by agencies and individuals totals $20,000, and the mortgage is paid off in three years.


  • In April the first Governor's Conference on Tourism is co-sponsored by IAPD and the Illinois Travel and Tourism Council, and Flickinger becomes president of the council to raise awareness for the tourism impact of park districts and forest preserves.

  • One thousand people attend the first Partners in Conservation rally held on May 18 at the State Capitol in support of OSLAD funding.

  • IAPD produces its grass-roots legislative advocacy video.

  • The awareness campaign "Fitness Is Leading the Way" begins with four teams (one running, one bicycling, one in wheelchairs and one walking) traveling 565 miles to bring the scissors and banner for the opening ceremonies at the Illinois State Fair on August 11. The campaign continues its state fair run through 1993.


  • IAPD lobbies successfully to pass legislation for the Bicycle Path Grants program, Public Act 86-925, which creates a dedicated source of funding for acquisition and development of bike paths.

  • OSLAD and the Natural Areas Acquisition funds get a dedicated funding--a portion of the real estate transfer tax--through Public Act 86-925.

  • The statewide marketing campaign Take Time for Fun! debuts.


  • IAPD publishes "The Economic Benefits of Illinois Park District Leisure Services," prepared by professors from Western Illinois University.

  • The Illinois Parks Association Risk Services (IPARKS) program is created as a governmental group self-insurance pool to provide park districts with an alternative to traditional property and casualty insurance coverage.


  • Chicago Bear football great Mike Singletary becomes the Take Time for Fun! celebrity spokesperson. The campaign, developed by the IAPD/IPRA Joint Public Awareness committee, runs for several years.

  • IAPD creates the Director Search Program to provide cost-effective, professional and confidential assistance to park boards in their search for qualified directors.

  • Governor Jim Edgar sponsors the Governor's Conference on New Horizons for Conservation, Park and Recreation.

  • The first manual for park board leadership, Are You on Board: A Leadership Guide for Agency Executives and Board Members, authored by Flickinger, is published by Sagamore Publishing.


  • IAPD and IPRA present the first Distinguished Park and Recreation Agency awards to the Arlington Heights Park District, Western Springs Recreation Department and the Woodridge Park District.

  • House Bill 1924 protects Illinois park districts from frivolous dissolution attempts.

    Public Act 88-91 authorizes park districts to establish fees for resident and nonresident participation.


  • Governor Edgar designates the second Saturday of the Illinois State Fair "Park District Conservation Day," to promote the positive impact of the state's park districts, forest preserves, recreation and natural resource agencies. Co-sponsored with the Illinois Department of Conservation (renamed the Department of Natural Resources in 1995) and IPRA, the event showcases park district entertainment and recreation, and environmental and wildlife displays.

  • Parks Day at the Capitol debuts in conjunction with the Legislative Conference, and it has grown to an event that lines the halls of the State Capitol Rotunda with park and forest preserve displays.

  • IAPD publishes its first Handbook on Illinois Park District Law and the Park Commissioners Handbook.


  • On June 29, Governor Jim Edgar signs Public Act 89-49 creating the Conservation 2000 fund to be used to establish a comprehensive program to protect Illinois natural resources through cooperative partnerships among state government, public and private land owners.

  • IAPD develops its first Public Relations Committee to emphasize public relations in parks and recreation and begins a series of media relations workshops.

  • On March 23, IAPD presents with the Illinois Department on Aging (IDOA) the first Leisure and Aging Summit, which earns Silver Eagle Corps Recognition from The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports for promoting recreation and wellness for older Americans.

  • Senate Bill 368 passes, restoring bonding authority to districts under the tax cap legislation of 1991.


  • IAPD champions the cause of at-risk youth in partnership with Attorney General Jim Ryan to foster partnerships among police, schools, park districts and nonprofit organizations.

  • IAPD forms the Research Advisory Council to fund trend-focused and benefits-based research for parks and recreation, which received contributions from 88 member agencies.

  • IAPD's first website goes live online.


  • James Heberer of the Kewanee Park District receives IAPD's first Rising Star Award for new commissioners of note.

  • IAPD stops legislative non-compete initiative of the YMCAs and begins partnership-building with heads of Illinois YMCAs.

  • Senate Bill 476 amends the Child Labor Law to permit 14- and 15-year old youth to work later in the parks.


  • IAPD partners with the Illinois Arts Council to offer special funds for park district art programs, and the association promotes a popular statewide art contest involving 3,000 Illinois school children.

  • The nonprofit fund-raising arm of IAPD, Friends of Illinois Parks, is established to involve citizens in IAPD's mission to preserve land and expand recreational opportunities for youth after-school programs.

  • IAPD advocates for the Museum Grant Program, which becomes Public Act 90-604.


  • IAPD lobbies for the Open Land Trust to fund local open space preservation projects. During Governor George Ryan's administration this program provided just under $64 million for 63 local projects to preserve more than 8,700 acres of land for preservation and resource-based outdoor recreation use.

  • The millennium campaign "2000 Trees by the Year 2000" results in 6,600 new trees planted by park districts.

  • IAPD leaders appointed to key task forces including Governor Ryan's Transition Team, First Lady Ryan's Futures for Kids Advisory Panel and the Department of Public Health's Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Program.

  • IAPD aggressively takes part in a nationwide campaign for the Conservation Area Reinvestment Act or CARA, an effort that ultimately restores funding to the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

  • Flickinger becomes president of the National Recreation and Park Association.


  • IAPD reinvigorates the Eagle Eye Neighborhood Park Watch program, with honorary chair Attorney General Jim Ryan.

  • IAPD is a founding member of the statewide advocacy group called the Kids Share Coalition.


  • The first scholarships awarded for the Donald F. Bresnan Commissioner Scholarship Fund, named for Bresnan, a longtime commissioner for the Champaign Park District.

  • The first Mike Cassidy Commissioner Community Service Award, named for Mike Cassidy of Freeport Park District, is awarded to Harris Agnew of the Rockford Park District.

  • Executive Director Flickinger is named to the Attorney General's Select Committee on Recreation for People with Disabilities.

  • Strategic alliances are formed with Voices for Illinois Children, the National Tree Trust and the Champion Tree Project, and the Illinois Senior Center Coalition.


  • In July, Governor Ryan signs Public Act 92-697, creating the park district youth license plate, which will generate funds to assist IAPD members in youth programming.

  • With funding from the Research Advisory Council, IAPD produces two key reports: the "Statewide Attitude and Awareness Survey" by Richard Day Research and "Illinois Land at Risk," published jointly with partner The Trust for Public Land.

  • Using a grant from the Vitamin Anti-Trust Settlement, IAPD funds development of the Recreation Access Illinois Web site,

  • IAPD receives a second grant from the settlement for "Power Play!", a new grant program for park district fitness and nutrition-based programming.

  • Beyond the Boardroom newsletter debuts, replacing the Leisure Review and focusing on board member education.


  • IAPD successfully overrides two gubernatorial vetoes on Senate Bill 83 and Senate Bill 1881, restoring bonding authority for 16 park districts and eliminating the tax cap restrictions on services for the disabled.

  • AARP and the Illinois Department on Aging acknowledged IAPD for its role in passing HB 2413, which designates grant money for senior centers.

  • On June 20 the IAPD holds 75th Anniversary Gala Dinner Dance at the Hyatt Regency Woodfield in Schaumburg, a fundraiser for Friends of Illinois Parks.

  • IAPD works with an open space coalition to restore OSLAD and NAAF funding to the state budget.
  • The first Park District Youth License Plate rolled off the production line.

  • IAPD and IPRA collaborated on a joint website: This site, targeted to the public, was a special project of the Joint Public Awareness Committee.

  • IAPD distributed more than $70,000 to Illinois park and recreation agencies through the Power Play After School Grant Program.


  • Attorney General Lisa Madigan chose the IAPD as a recipient of a grant based on the settlement of an anti-trust case against compact disc manufacturers. The IAPD distributed a large selection of music CDs to its membership for use with their recreation programs, senior centers and special events.

  • Governor Blagojevich proclaimed a "holiday" for the OSLAD and NAAF funds. IAPD quickly reacted and our members carried strong messages to their legislators. IAPD released the economic impact figures for OSLAD. OSLAD generated approximately $410 million of capital spending in Illinois' parks, forest preserves, conservation and natural areas. And these park improvements spurred $225 million worth of construction and union labor jobs, while infusing an additional $184.5 million into the Illinois economy for the purchase of materials for park development.

  • Public Act 93-897 doubles the bid limits for park districts and forest preserve districts from $10,000 to

  • Public Act 93-844 gives conservation districts the authority to authorize the sale of alcoholic beverages on property owned by the district, subject to the approval of its governing board.

  • IAPD distributed $64,000 to Illinois park and recreation agencies through the Power Play After School Grant

  • Get on Board is released--a new leadership guide on becoming an effective steward of public trust.

  • Winning in the Face of Organized Opposition was designed and released in cooperation with the Joint Public Awareness Committee and IPRA. This publication helps agencies answer challenges from groups critical of their efforts and is a guide to public education efforts during a referendum campaign.

  • The Park District Code is updated and released.

  • The Power of Citizen Advocacy debuted. This DVD outlines how commissioners and park professionals can become involved in the legislative process and effectively deliver their message. IAPD sent a copy to each member agency as a membership service.


  • Guide to Marketing, a concise and practical "how to" manual was sent as a free CD-ROM to all member agencies.

  • IAPD's Quarterly News went "electronic" and became IAPD's first electronic newsletter, the IAPD e-News. This enabled IAPD to reduce costly mailings and distribute information in a more timely manner.

  • IAPD saved funding for OSLAD and NAAF after $200million was swept from special purpose funds. IAPD and Partners for Parks and Wildlife led the successful charge to protect OSLAD and NAAF.

  • Sales of the Park District Youth License Plate increased after IAPD succeeded in making vanity and personalized plates available this year. IAPD received checks from Secretary of State Jesse White totaling $20,000. These proceeds bolstered the Power Play After-School Grant Program with an extra $500 per grant. The IAPD distributed $88,800 to our members through the Power Play After School Grant Program.

  • Seemore the Eagle, mascot of the Eagle Eye Neighborhood Park Watch Program, was a Hollywood sequel this year when the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation purchased two IAPD Eagle Eye programs.

  • The IAPD Research Advisory Council continued to be an active force in identifying the important issues affecting Illinois parks and recreation. The Economic Impact of Local Parks and Recreation in Illinois armed our agencies with valuable information to use when "making a case" with legislators, media, businesses and the citizens they serve.

  • Parks and Recreation Employs Illinois, a brochure summarizing the Economic Impact of Local Park and Recreation Agencies in Illinois, was sent to the IAPD membership, members of the Illinois General Assembly and Illinois' major media outlets.

  • More than 60 agencies participated in the premier of IAPD's "Flying 4 Kids" statewide kite fly. The kite fly was created to promote the Park District Youth License Plate.


  • IAPD hosted 37 educational sessions throughout the state.

  • The annual conference was a huge success with more than 4,000 attendees and 350 exhibitors.

  • IAPD published the 5th edition of the Illinois Park District Law Handbook.

  • IAPD drafted 15 position papers as a proactive approach to dealing with the challenges faced by communities, families, park districts, conservation and recreation agencies throughout the state.

  • Fourteen agencies commissioned IAPD to perform Director Searches.

  • IAPD took public awareness on the road this year via statewide billboards - in partnership with member agencies - promoting the Park District Youth License Plate and the economic impact park districts, recreation and conservation have on the state.

  • Park District Youth License Plate public service announcements aired nearly 2,000 times on more than 160 Illinois radio stations.

  • More than 40 agencies hosteda "Flying 4 Kids" kite fly to promote the Park District Youth License Plate.
  • More than 50 agencies gathered in the Rotunda of the Illinois State Capitol during Parks Day at the State Capitol.

  • IAPD coordinated several "World Wide Day of Play" events in cooperation with the American Heart Association as an initiative to get kids moving and fight childhood obesity.

  • IAPD worked to save the OSLAD program from a sweep of its funds. Not only did we succeed, but we also saw an $11.8 million appropriation increase in the program to $31.8 million.

  • The Eagle Eye Neighborhood Park Watch program expanded its wings to 35 agencies in 11 states.


  • IAPD held the first Best of the Best Awards Gala to recognize and thank those who have committed their time and talents to strengthen the park, recreation and conservation mission.

  • A new edition of The Park District Code was published covering the latest laws on everything from automated external defibrillators, open meetings, minimum wage increases and much more.

  • IAPD hosted the National Park and Recreation Association's Great Lakes Regional Council Summer Meeting in Springfield. Representatives from seven states took part in a productive meeting and learned about IAPD programs and services.

  • Position Papers from the IAPD was published as a proactive approach to dealing with the challenges faced by Illinois communities, families, park districts, conservation, recreation and special recreation agencies.

  • IAPD and the American Hearth Association developed and distributed a free Healthy Playbook 4 KIDS CD complete with tips, tools and ideas our members could use to address childhood obesity.

  • The Click It and Kick It button was added to the IAPD Web site to provide a valuable resource for agencies to learn what others are doing to combat childhood obesity.

  • IAPD's Financial Procedures for Park Districts was created, covering budget philosophy and preparation, levies, truth in taxation, annual audits, annual statements, bonds, investments and more.

  • IAPD worked to secure a record appropriation of $34 million for the Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) program, and helped to acquire $15 million for the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund (NAAF).

  • IAPD joined the Partners for Parks and Wildlife Coalition in the promotion of the Illinois Special Places Acquisition, Conservation and Enhancement Program (iSPACE), an initiative that will protect open spaces for future generations by providing a capital spending plan for conservation programs.

  • The Open Meetings Act was amended to permit park district commissioners to discuss public business without violating the Act.

  • IAPD's partnership with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the attorney general's office continued with Recreation Access. Recreation Access Best Practices awards were presented at IAPD's Legislative Conference.

  • IAPD and Partners for Parks and Wildlife, a coalition of 130 organizations and not-for-profit agencies, held a joint news conference announcing the release of the study, Illinois State Land Conservation Funding.

  • IAPD remained on the front lines of the battle against childhood obesity in 2007 with our ally the American Heart Association and together presented public awareness initiatives related to childhood obesity including the Healthy Playbook 4 KIDS Toolkit, the Miss Illinois Tour and the Worldwide Day of Play.

  • The Eagle Eye Neighborhood Park Watch Program was represented at the National Crime Prevention Council's National Watch Groups Summit. The program has grown to 39 communities in 13 states. It drastically reduces costs associated with crime and vandalism.


  • IAPD created the brochure, So You Want To Serve On The Park District Board…What Does That Mean? The brochure was sent to member agencies to provide for citizens thinking about running for a park board.

  • IAPD and the American heart Association updated and enhanced the Healthy Playbook 4 KIDS CD. The CD, which featured tools and ideas to help combat childhood obesity, was distributed free to IAPD members.

  • Since the program's implementation, IAPD has conducted more than 90 Director Searches.

  • IAPD has distributed $354,200 in grant monies through the PowerPlay! Grants program, providing funding to member agencies implementing beyond-school programs that focus on health, fitness and nutrition.

  • Parks Day at the Illinois State Capitol featured more than 50 park districts, forest preserves, conservation, recreation and special recreation agencies exhibiting in the Capitol Rotunda.

  • Nearly 60 agencies hosted a Flying 4 KIDS kite fly event to promote the Park District Youth license Plate Program, which provides funding for beyond-school programming at park and recreation agencies throughout the state.

  • Representatives from more than 60 agencies performed, exhibited or volunteered to showcase the many important things parks, recreation and conservation brings to the citizens of Illinois at Park District Conservation Day at the Illinois State Fair.

  • IAPD partnered with the American Heart Association to present Go Healthy Month in September. Numerous agencies hosted free Go Healthy Month events in their communities as part of an initiative to get kids moving and fight childhood obesity.

  • IAPD partnered with the Jr. Olympic Skills National Headquarters in promoting health and fitness in today's youth. Park and recreation agencies were encouraged to host Jr. Olympic Skills competitions.

  • IAPD continued to promote arts in the parks in partnership with the Illinois Arts Council.

  • IAPD partnered with Good Sports, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides sports equipment for disadvantaged youth participating in park programs in the Chicagoland area.

  • IAPD lobbied for the passage of House Bill 473, which provides that the governor may not transfer monies from the Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development Fund to the General Revenue Fund.

  • IAPD lobbied for the successful passage of House Bill 1058, which provides that the Department of Public Health has the power to make matching grants from the Heartsaver AED Fund to any forest preserve district or conservation district.

  • IAPD worked with Open lands, The Nature Conservancy, Environmental Council, Trust for Public Land, Illinois Audubon Society and other groups on a coalition basis to advance liability protection to private landowners to encourage public use.

  • IAPD implemented th4e Legislative Key Contact Program, a program designed to appoint one elected official from each IAPD member agency to advocate for responsible public policies to benefit park districts, forest preserves, conservation, recreation and special recreation agencies.


  • The 2009 Soaring to New Heights annual conference drew more than 4,670 attendees, including Governor Pat Quinn on his first day in office.

  • The annual Legislative Conference and Reception drew more than 370 attendees. Speakers included Governor Pat Quinn.

  • IAPD presented an annual Boot Camp for newly-elected or appointed board members and seasoned commissioners.

  • IAPD worked to ensure the Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development Fund (OSLAD) and the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund (NAAF) remained funded with $17.5 million and $15 million respectively.

  • IAPD lobbied for the passage of House Bill 242, which adds the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to the debt service extension base of all park districts, forest preserves and conservation districts.

  • IAPD lobbied for the successful passage of House Bill 4151, which extends the debt repayment period for park districts from 20 to 25 years.

  • IAPD sent more than 28 legislative alerts and updates to IAPD membership, keeping them apprised of budget issues, OSLAD appropriations, the Heartsaver AED Fund, changes to the Freedom of Information Act and more.

  • The Park District Youth License Plate program continued to benefit IAPD member agencies with 1,356 plates.

  • IAPD entered into an agreement with Seven Utility Management Consultants, Ltd. To provide a professional consulting service for the purchase of electricity and natural gas for our membership.

  • The Best of the Best Awards Gala brought together more than 250 representatives of parks, recreation and conservation and the businesses, media and citizens that support them.

  • Friends of Illinois Parks continued to grow with 500 individuals contributing to the support and promotion of park districts, forest preserves, conservation, recreation and special recreation agencies in Illinois.

  • IAPD's Eagle Eye Neighborhood Park Watch Program has grown to 44 agencies in 13 states.


  • Peter Murphy took the helm and becomes IAPD's new President and CEO.

  • A new strategic plan was in development, complete with action plans addressing the opportunities brought about by the changing times.

  • The website was reconstructed, adding new features to make it the one stop shop for everything parks, recreation and conservation.

  • Social networking added a new dimension to our communications.

  • IAPD provided more than 30 educational programs including Strong Board and Director Teams, Community Building Through a Referendum, Protecting Yourself from Hackers & Internet Thieves and Finding Personal Information Online.

  • IAPD awarded a total of $20,250 in PowerPlay! beyond school grants to 19 member agencies. These grants are funded by the sale and renewal of each Park District Youth License Plate.

  • The Eagle Eye Neighborhood Park Watch Program continued to grow with 45 agencies in 13 states.

  • IAPD lobbied for the passage of Senate Bill 3139, which assured that the Consumer Price Index is added to the debt service extension base for park districts, forest preserves and conservation districts in counties subject to the tax caps.

  • IAPD worked to obtain the release of $25 million for the Park and Recreation Facility Construction grant program and an additional $15 million for the Illinois Public Museum Grant Program.


  • IAPD reviewed more than 6,400 bill introductions and tracked 300 of those bills.

  • We advocated for the passage of Senate Bill 1686, which saves IAPD member agencies thousands of dollars each year by eliminating their most costly newspaper publication requirement, the annual treasurer's report.

  • IAPD ensured that OSLAD grants in the amount of 411,734,000 were awarded to 36 agencies despite the State's announcement that the grants would be suspended.

  • Prevented unfunded mandates that would have exposed IAPD members to millions of dollars in potential liability and unreasonable legal requirements.

  • Assisted 77 IAPD member agencies in obtaining nearly $2.5 million to employ more than 800 youth under the Illinois Youth Recreation Corps summer grant program. The IAPD team made personal calls to each member agency to notify them of this grant opportunity.

  • IAPD worked to obtain $50 million in grants from the Park and Recreation Facility Construction (PARC) grant program.

  • IAPD responded to 250 legal inquiries.

  • IAPD distributed, new, personalized membership cards.

  • Hosted the first Park Pentathlon and Recreation Relay held on Park District Conservation Day.

  • More than 5,600 people attended kite flies event throughout the state.

  • IAPD enhanced the "Members Only" area on the website. We added The Knowledge Center which contains information from current and past IAPD publications, positions papers, meetings, seminars and conferences.

  • $21,000 in PowerPlay! grants were given to member agencies for beyond-school programs.

  • IAPD introduced a free app that allows members to access the latest IAPD news feeds including timely legislative information.

  • IAPD provided more than 45 educational programs.


  • IAPD reviewed 3,707 bill introductions and tracked 639 bills.

  • IAPD advocated for the release of $12,354,600 in OSLAD grants.

  • We responded to more than 400 legal inquiries and sent out more than 40 legislative alerts, updates and legal news briefs.

  • IAPD prevented unfunded mandates that would have exposed IAPD members to millions of dollars in potential liability and unreasonable legal requirements.

  • The Legal Symposium was offered as a live stream, so that members who could not travel to this important educational program had the luxury of watching it in real time.

  • IAPD provided more than 50 educational programs, including Financial Best Practices, Board Powers and Duties, Strategies for Effective Board Meetings, Avoiding Legal Problems with Social Networking, Intergovernmental Agreements, Regulation of Park Construction Sites and Wind and Solar Power Applications for Park Agencies.

  • IAPD offered five Good Governance Workshops throughout the state.

  • Illinois Park District Financial Procedures and the Guide to Illinois Sunshine Laws were added to IAPD's library of resources.

  • $35,000 in PowerPlay! grants were given to IAPD member agencies.

  • $12.3 million in OSLAD grants were awarded to member agencies.

  • Through 2012, IAPD has conducted 103 director searches.

  • IAPD began partnering with Living Lands & Waters and their Millions Trees Project.

  • IAPD unveiled Healthy Lifestyles, a new online resource that provides useful articles, links and tips about health, fitness and nutrition.


  • IAPD celebrated its 85th anniversary.

  • We offered more than 50 educational sessions designed to provide commissioners and professionals with up-to-date and in-depth knowledge on boardmanship, legal issues and legislative action.

  • Six platform IAPD initiatives were signed into law.

  • 52 editions of our weekly e-News and six issues of Illinois Parks & Recreation were packed with articles.

  • IAPD coordinated the first annual IAPD Legislative Awareness Picnic, which brought nearly 200 IAPD members, their legislators and families together for an old-fashioned picnic.

  • We attended nine legislative breakfasts with 40 legislators and hundreds of IAPD members.

  • IAPD advocated for the release of OSLAD grants, which were ultimately awarded to 45 agencies in the total amount of $15,329,300.

  • We assisted 48 member agencies obtain more than $2.1 million to employ youth under the Illinois Youth Recreation Corps summer grant program.

  • IAPD gave out $28,000 in PowerPlay! grants to our members.

  • The Park District Code was printed.

  • DVDs were available for purchase of the Legal Symposium

  • IAPD offered six regional Boot Camps.

  • IAPD's Guide to Employment Laws joined our library of resources.


  • IAPD unveiled its IAPD Leadership Institute--a premier educational series of workshops and webinars designed to foster leadership abilities, boardmanship and professional development.

  • We shared the results of our latest research efforts in a comprehensive brochure entitled Parks & Forest Preserves Bring Value to Our Communities.

  • IAPD oversaw eight platform initiatives that were signed into law during the 98th General Assembly, which represents more than 12 times the number of bills passed by other lobbying entities.

  • We advocated for the release of OSLAD grants, which were ultimately awarded to 46 agencies in the amount of $16,527,500.

  • Increased the amount of OSLAD grant funding by 70% for FY2015, for a total appropriate amount of $24 million.

  • Advocated for the release of more than $77 million from the Park and Recreational Facility Construction grant program.

  • The Park District Youth License Plate Marketing Kit was updated.

  • 47 Eagle Eye Neighborhood Park Watch programs are saving agencies in 14 states thousands of dollars in crime and vandalism expenses.

  • The 7th edition of the Illinois Park District Law Handbook was published.

  • IAPD published the Park District Code Quick Reference Pocket Guide.

  • Since 1992, IAPD has conducted 111 director searches.


  • IAPD responded to 375 legal inquiries and distributed more than 40 legislative alerts, updates, legal news briefs and legislative advocacy videos.

  • Analyzed and raised awareness of the specific impact that a statewide permanent property tax freeze would have on the day-to-day operations of park and recreation agencies.

  • Prepared and published a 57-page report titled Impact of Unfunded Mandates on Illinois Park Districts.

  • Tracked 478 different bills and monitored more than 1,100 bills for their impact on our membership.

  • Partnered with The Trust for Public Land and The Nature Conservancy on a new Statewide Capital Needs Assessment that demonstrates a $2.6 billion capital construction and land acquisition need.

  • Parks Day at the Capitol featured a sold-out venue with the theme:  discover the Power of Park Districts and Forest Preserves.

  • IAPD promoted the power of park districts and forest preserves on color banners adorning the light poles around the Illinois State Capitol.

  • IAPD jump started its Living Legends Video Series, recording and memorializing the experience and dedication of park board members throughout Illinois.

  • 48 Eagle Eye Neighborhood Park Watch Programs are saving agencies in 14 states thousands of dollars in expenses associated with crime and vandalism.

  • Throughout the three-year partnership with Living Lands & Waters in the Million Trees Project, 92,038 trees have been planted by IAPD member agencies.

  • IAPD conducted five regional Boot Camps.

  • IAPD offered the 2015-2016 Benefits of Membership in hard copy form and as an interactive .pdf.

  • IAPD's Director Search Program continues to be a highly-sought-after service, having placed 114 executive directors/CEOs since the program's inception.