Strategic Plan

PARKticipate_TREE.fw2017-2021 Strategic Plan

Next Strategic Plan ESC Meeting (updated 6/10/16)
The Strategic Plan ESC will meet on Tuesday, June 28, 6:00 pm at the WPD Community Room, 540 Hibbard Road.The meeting is open to the public, but is a working meeting of the ESC, not a Board meeting for public forum.

1. Introduction Remarks and Review
2. Review of Initiatives and Team Leaders
3. Guidelines for Developing Strategic Initiatives
4. Community, Employee and Customer Engagement
5. Wrap up, Questions, Next Steps

Strategic Plan Update (6/9/16)
The Winnetka Park District is in the process of developing the District’s second consecutive five-year strategic plan that will run from 2017-2021. Like the previous plan, input from the Park Board, staff and community is the most critical part in the identification and development of the new strategic plan initiatives.

The process began in the fall of 2015 when the park board and leadership team started to develop a Community-Wide Needs Assessment Survey to collect resident feedback on the quality of parks, programs and facilities as well as solicit feedback on important issues and priorities facing the Park District.

Goals of the strategic planning process:

  • Continue a culture within the Winnetka Park District that leads to a strong collaboration between the Community, Board and the District’s employees on what issues/challenges/initiatives must be addressed to help the District continue to be successful over the next 5 years.
  • Provide the Executive Director and his talented team of employees with direction, initiatives and objectives/task/timelines.

The strategic planning process will consist of the following activities:

  • Gathering information through community and stakeholder feedback
  • Identifying critical issues and challenges that will be transformed into strategic initiatives
  • Developing, researching and distilling proposed strategic initiatives into 5-10 critical, future oriented initiatives
  • Documenting a proposed strategic plan around these critical, future oriented initiatives
  • Reviewing, editing and finalizing the strategic plan
  • Securing approval of the strategic plan by the Winnetka Park District Board of Commissioners is anticipated to take place at their January Park Board meeting.

The first phase of the planning process focuses on identifying strategic initiatives that the park district must undertake to ensure continued excellence at the highest level.  Key Park District stakeholders provide input during this phase.


In February the District conducted a community-wide needs assessment that was sent to all residents. This allowed the opportunity for each resident’s voice to be heard, provide important benchmarks of success and compare the survey results to other park and recreation agencies with similar demographics in Illinois and the nation. The final survey results were reviewed by the Park Board at their April 28, 2016 meeting.

At the same time as the survey was being conducted, an Executive Steering Committee (ESC) was formed.  This committee consisted of Park Board Commissioners John Thomas and Mickey Archambault and 12 leadership-team employees from throughout the District.    ESC, Board and Park Caucus meetings were held to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing the district and to define the major issues facing the district over the next five years.

Both the survey information and the workshop/meetings will provide important research that will help the Board and staff identify future oriented issues that need to be addressed. From these issues, the ESC will craft initiatives centered on what needs to change to insure continued success of the District at the highest level.

During the process two types of strategic initiatives will be defined; sustaining initiatives and margin of excellence (change) initiatives.

  • Sustaining initiatives are fundamental to a high-performing agency with the goal of “total stakeholder satisfaction-caring about everyone involved in the delivery of services”. Examples include financial strength, high-quality employees, committed community partners, and operational efficiency.
  • Margin of excellence (change) initiatives are those that differentiate the Park District from its peers and its own past through consistently delivering an exceptional customer experience and creating value for the residents of Winnetka.

We anticipate the new plan will be ready for approval at the January 2017 Park Board meeting.

Strategic planning progress updates will take place at Park Board meetings and on this website.

Periodic email updates are also being sent to those individuals interested. Please consider receiving those notifications. 2017-2021 Strategic Plan Email List

For further information or questions contact Mary Cherveny, Communication/Marketing Manager at

Park Board Strategic Planning Workshop (5/10/16)
The Winnetka Park District Board of Commissioners Strategic Planning Workshop is scheduled for Wednesday, May 11, 2016.

Agenda . . .

Survey Results (updated 5/26/16)
Chris Tatham from the ETC Institute presented the findings from the 2016 Community Needs Assessment Survey at the April 28, 2016 Board Meeting. This information will be used as a guide as the 2016-2021 WPD Strategic Plan is completed during the next several months.

Community Needs Survey Open Through April 1 (3/18/16)
The Winnetka Park District Board of Commissioners have extended the closing on the community needs survey through April 1, 2016. For those still interested in completing online, please go to If you are unable to find your participation number provided on the mailed hard copy  of the survey, please call (847) 501-2040 for assistance.

2017-21 Strategic Plan Executive Steering Committee (3/14/16)
The first meeting of the 2017-21 Strategic Plan Executive Steering Committee will be held on Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at 5:30 pm at the Tennis Center Lounge.


Committee Members:

Board Representation
Mickey Archambault and John Thomas

Administrative Team
Robert Smith, Libby Baker, John Muno, John Shea, Costa Kutulas, Robert Farmer, Mary Cherveny

Enterprise Managers
Pat Fragassi, Matt Johnson, Paul Schwartz

Parks Department
Greg Fields, Andrew Cabrera

Marketing & Finance
Nosha Moore, Natalie Seidel

Survey Information (2/22/16)
The Winnetka Park District is developing its 2017 to 2021 Strategic Plan to help shape the future of Parks and Recreation facilities, programs and services most important to residents. We would like to hear from you!   Your input will measurably help the Winnetka Park District with the Strategic Plan process.

The Winnetka Park District Community Priorities Needs Assessment Survey was mailed out on February 17. If a second adult in your household would like to complete the survey, it may be completed online at When completing online, you will be required to enter one of the participation codes printed at the top-right of the mailed survey. If two adults in your household want to participate online, each person must enter a different participation code. No more than two surveys per household will be accepted.

If your household hasn’t received a copy of the survey in the mail, please contact the Winnetka Park District administrative office at (847) 501-2040. The front desk staff will be able to verify your address and provide you household with the necessary participation codes to complete the survey online.

We know your time is valuable and appreciate the approximately 10-15 minutes it will take to answer all of the survey questions. The survey will stay open until April 1, 2016.

If you have any questions regarding this survey or the Strategic Plan process please contact Executive Director, Robert Smith at or (847) 501-2070.

Thank you in advance for being engaged and completing this survey. This community input will help the Winnetka Park District with the 2016-2021 Strategic Plan planning process. If you’d like to keep informed throughout the strategic plan process, please consider joining the Park District’s plan specific email list, at You will also have the option to join additional email lists at that time.

2011-2015 Strategic Plan

Adopted by the Winnetka Park District Board of Commissioners: 4/28/2011

2011-2015 Strategic Master Plan (PDF)

Mission Statement

The Winnetka Park District’s mission is to provide a balance of quality recreation and leisure opportunities while protecting assets, natural resources and open space for the benefit of present and future generations.

Vision Statement
We help build an active, vibrant community identity and a sustainable environment by promoting healthy lifestyles for residents of all ages and abilities through quality recreation services, parks, facilities, programs and partnerships that meet the highest standards of excellence.

By 2014, the Winnetka Park District will be known for being the nexus for promoting healthy lifestyles, having become the hub for the best recreation and leisure opportunities for residents of all ages and abilities. The following four goals and their associated initiatives will help us accomplish this internal vision:

The strategies and tactics that address these Goals, objectives and initiatives are written to ensure a plan is in place to address the completion of the Initiatives in this plan.

Goal 1

improve our programming reach and frequency of use in a way that aligns with community feedback and fiscal stewardship.

Objective 1
Expand options for sites/land to support a full range of offerings

Initiative 1a: Strategically acquire/divest land to secure more options for programming and open space

Initiative 1b: Complete the Skokie playfields master plan to secure all options for programming and open space

Initiative 1c: Improve the utilization of our business district parks through intergovernmental collaboration

  • Create a destination park
  • Consider future access

Objective 2
Improve current offerings to broaden and deepen our reach to all ages and abilities

Initiative 2a: Find solutions to the aquatic needs of our community in a way that aligns with our mission and with fiscal stewardship

Initiative 2b: Explore options for bike-walk trails across our geography

  • East/ West
  • Skokie playfield / golf course
  • Use of intergov’t collaborations with the village and forest preserve district

Initiative 2c: Improve our outdoor ice offerings

Goal 2

Upgrade our assets to fully leverage our strengths and opportunities for balance across program breadth and environmental sustainability

Objective 1
Improve the quality of our natural resources/assets

Initiative 1a: Improve the lakefront so that residents can fully utilize our beaches

  • Improve water quality
  • Upgrade physical plant and parking access
  • Consider revenue options / free access
  • Explore options for activities and comfort (chairs/food)
  • Explore land trade-offs / buy/sell for planning
  • Consider integration / linkages

Initiative 1b: Improve ground surfaces to increase utilization on our playfields and golf course, subject to improving water mgt through intergovernmental collaboration

Initiative 1c: Re-design the golf service center / finish improvements on Morrow property

Initiative 1d: Expand tennis/golf/ice facilities

Objective 2
Improve our fiscal position with productive partnerships and alternative revenue streams

Initiative 2a: Secure viable partnerships that improve and expand programming and the quality of our natural resources

  • Corporate / non-profit / governmental entities
  • Secure landfill usage rights

Initiative 2b: Create alternative revenue streams that build sustainable improvements to our programs and natural resources

  • Legacy gifts
  • Corporate sponsorships
  • Naming rights
  • Grants
  • Foundation support

Goal 3

Improve our standards for program/site excellence in ways that increase community awareness, satisfaction and utilization

Objective 1
Increase the ratio of programs offered to executed

Initiative 1a: Plan and market program expansions and improvements to capture a wider range and frequency of participation, including the use of data-driven participant analysis

Initiative 1b: Leverage our assets consistent with our standards for enterprise management (For example, complimentary scheduling to allow for access across programs)

Objective 2
Improve our capacity to monitor the effectiveness of our strategic initiatives and investments

Initiative 2a: Employ a comprehensive set of metrics/monitoring tools to allow for better board and staff decision-making

Initiative 2b: Train board and staff on monitoring tools and techniques to ensure effective and efficient utilization

Goal 4

Upgrade park district leadership capacity to make and execute against timely, informed, mission-centric decisions

Objective 1
Attract and retain the best staff to secure our strategic goals and desired outcomes

Initiative 1a: Develop policies and procedures for hiring, orienting and retaining the best staff

Initiative 1b: Ensure our compensation package is aligned with competitive benchmarks and our strategic plans

Objective 2
Develop board policies and procedures to promote the most promising governance and meeting practices

Initiative 2a: Develop and adher to meeting operating principles to ensure effectiveness and efficiency

Initiative 2b: Develop a board/director evaluation process that aligns with the most promising practices to ensure leadership accountability

Additional Resources