Published on March 18, 2014
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 1 Town of Dyer, Indiana Parks and Recreation Department 5 Year Plan 2012 - 2016
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 2 Index Mission Statement/Plan Overview.....................................................................................3 Goals of the Plan .................................................................................................................4 Park Board/Department Information................................................................................5 Planning Area ......................................................................................................................6 History of Dyer/Parks Dept..................................................................................................7-8 Parks and Recreation..........................................................................................................9 Location................................................................................................................................10 Natural Features/Landscape.............................................................................................11 Demographics .....................................................................................................................12-13 Master Plan Development .................................................................................................14-15 Community Needs Assessment Results.............................................................................16-19 Public Input...........................................................................................................................20 Previous Efforts......................................................................................................................21-22 Establishment of Park Board...............................................................................................23-29 Park Map...............................................................................................................................30 Site Inventory/Goals/Accessibility.....................................................................................31-34 Assurance of Compliance .................................................................................................35 Costs/Target Dates..............................................................................................................56 Individual Park Sites Inventory............................................................................................36-65 Action Plan ..........................................................................................................................66-67 Funding Recommendation/Priorities ................................................................................68-69 Recreational Activities/Demand Analysis........................................................................70-72 Master Plan Public Input Final Review and Comment...................................................72 Conclusion............................................................................................................................73 Resolution Adopting Master Plan......................................................................................74
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 3 Mission Statement The Dyer Parks & Recreation Department strives to provide and maintain quality recreation facilities, parks and programs which enhance the physical, social and emotional well- being of all the citizens of the Town of Dyer. It is vital that the Parks and Recreation Department be responsive to the leisure and recreational needs of its citizens. Park Board Goals and Objectives The Dyer Park board has been created under Indiana statute to, among other items, exercise general supervision of and make rules for the department along with establishing rules governing the use of the parks and facilities by the public. Master Plan Overview The last Master Plan conducted by the Town of Dyer Park and Recreation Department was facilitated and designed by an outside planning firm. The current Park Board felt confident enough in their knowledge of the process to save the residents of Dyer some $30,000 and do the Master Plan “in house.” The primary goal of this plan is to enhance the community by providing indoor and outdoor recreational opportunities for all ages and interests. The timeframe or life of this plan is short by design to complete realistic goals and seek vital improvements to the park lands and recreational offerings within the 5 year planning horizon. The Town of Dyer has grown in size and stature, and with this growth comes the expectation of providing an acceptable level of service in recreational opportunities, parks, trails and open space. To start this plan, the Park Board started by seeking resident input by mailing a survey to all residents of Dyer. Following the survey, the board held a series of 3 public input meetings – one specifically inviting local youth sports group leaders. The public input meetings, although advertised in local papers, on the town website, using Facebook and by publishing dates in a town mailing sent to resident homes, were not highly attended. Mission Statement/Overview
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 4 The intent of the Park Board and the current Town Council is to make current parks and the Central Park a focal point for the Town of Dyer. Resident input supports this vision. The three vision statements that were generated early on in the process were as follows: 1) To make the move towards more centrally located larger parks. 2) To explore opportunities for an indoor athletic facility and outdoor aquatic facility. 3) To create more walking/biking paths within the town creating more recreational outlets for all of Dyer residents, not just youth. These are important to consider as the plan is molded because they reflect many of the public’s ideas as to the future direction of the agency. Several administrative goals are included in the following sections that have the power to transform the agency. Three key recommendations include; 1) Look for ways that Dyer Park facilities can be self-supporting financially yet affordable to residents. 2) Look at getting rid of/auctioning off duplicate park properties that are too concentrated in one area to free up operating dollars to fund other park improvements. 3) In a time of governmental budget cuts, to find alternative ways to fund park improvements in the way of resident involvement, grants and donations. Finally, the plan needs to be clear, concise and focused on common sense solutions that can be implemented with notable improvements in a short amount of time. Second, it needs to have the voice of the public and third, it needs to be creative in steps to maximize revenue sources to allow reinvestment into the agency allowing for growth within the department to happen. This is how to measure success for the future of parks and recreation in Dyer. Goals Of The Plan
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 5 2012 Dyer Town Council: Jeff Dekker, President Joseph Cinko, Vice-President Debbie Astor, Member Mary Tanis, Member Connee Trepton, Member 2012 Dyer Park & Recreation Board: John Eagan, President appointed through Dec. 31, 2013 Mike Kapitan, Vice-President appointed through Dec. 31, 2012 Theresa Scherzinger, Executive Secretary appointed through Dec. 31, 2014 Cathy Lareau, Member appointed through Dec. 31, 2015 Debbie Astor, Town Council Liaison William T. Enslen, Attorney to the Board Department Administrative Staff: Mark Heintz, CPRP, Director of Parks & Recreation Andrea Daliege, Recreation Supervisor Lorraine Copenhaver, Clerk Dyer Parks & Recreation Department: 1 Town Square Dyer, IN 46311 Phone: 219-865-2505 Fax: 219-865-4233 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.townofdyer.com/parks The Park Board The Board of Parks and Recreation is composed of four members, each who is appointed by the Dyer Town Council for a 4 year term. The terms are staggered with one seat expiring every year. The Park Board meets monthly on the second Wednesday of each month at 6:00 pm at the Dyer Town Hall in the Town Hall Main Meeting Room. The Board also conducts a study session on the fourth Wednesday of each month at 6:00 pm at the Dyer Town Hall in the Town Hall Main Meeting Room. At its monthly meeting, the Board approves claims and payments, makes policy and operation decisions, approves requests for use of parks facilities and receives an update from the director on day to day department activity. The meetings are open to the public and the public is encouraged to ask questions and provide feedback. Park Board/Department Information
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 6 Location The Town of Dyer is located in northwest Indiana in the western portion of St. John Township in Lake County. Dyer borders the Illinois communities of Lynwood, Sauk Village and Crete. The Dyer service area consists of the Illinois border to the west, the Town of Schererville to the east, the Town of Munster to the north and unincorporated St. John Township to the south. U.S. Route 30 traverses the Town from east to west. In recent years the Sheffield Avenue/Hart Street has become a secondary north- south corridor through Dyer. The long awaited Calumet Avenue extension (from Main Street on the north end of Dyer to Route 30 in the middle of Dyer) has become the main north-south corridor with high traffic counts. Accessibility Dyer is located 20 miles southeast of Chicago, Illinois. Illinois Route 394 is two miles to the west, Interstate 80/94 is 9 miles to the north and Interstate 65 is ten miles to the east. There is no public bus system in Dyer except for a commuter bus system from a park and ride lot that goes to Chicago twice a day. The St. John Township does offer a transportation program for senior citizens. Triple A Express is an available taxi service to Dyer residents. Air transportation is available from Gary (IN) Regional Airport, Lansing (IL) Regional Airport, Midway International and O’Hare International Airports (Chicago). Dyer is located approximately 15 miles south of Lake Michigan. Amtrak trains from Indianapolis to Chicago stop twice daily in Dyer utilizing the north-south CSX railroad line. Dyer also is crossed by the Canadian National line which runs from east to west. Customers The Dyer Parks and Recreation department services the residents of the Town of Dyer’s corporate limits as the main consumer base. Non-residents from surrounding communities and unincorporated areas of St. John Township are also served through the parks and programs offered by Dyer Parks and Recreation. In this situation the department is making Dyer a destination for recreation. For programs, non-residents are charged a higher fee since none of their property tax supports the Town services. The unincorporated area of St. John Township with a Dyer, Indiana zip code are even mailed the seasonal activity guides since they are not within any municipal parks and recreation area. Planning Area
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 7 In approximately 1830, permanent settlers came to Northwest Indiana, which at that time was home to the Pottawatomie Indians under Chief Pokagan. These early settlers were primarily Prussian farmers, but also included carpenters, millers, masons, shoemakers, saloon keepers and a doctor. Between 1830 and 1910, the Dyer community remained unincorporated. On January 24, 1910, citizens of Dyer decided by a vote of 57 to 35 to incorporate as a town under the laws of the State of Indiana. The Town of Dyer was formally incorporated on February 8, 1910. The town was divided into three districts or wards so that a trustee might be elected from each of the wards. In 1915, the Municipal Water Utility was established, and the Fire Department was established shortly thereafter. The first Town Meeting was held on March 10, 1919 in a store building at 229 Joliet Street. Population of the town has steadily increased. In 1893, it is reported that the town had a population of 250 people. In 1910, it had 500; and by 1950 it reached 1,556. Growth of the town by 1960 reached 3,993. The Schilling’s Subdivision brought the count to 4,496 in a special census in 1968, and by 1970 there were 4,778 residents. By 1975, there were 7,396; the1980 census listed the town at 9,555; the 1990 census listed the town at 10,923; the 2000 census listed the town at 13,895; and as of the 2010 census, there were 16,390 Dyer residents. The parks and recreation department for the Town of Dyer was created by ordinance 819 which is contained in this plan. Ordinance 819 created a board of parks and recreation comprised of four members who were deemed to be residents of the Town of Dyer for at least three years prior to becoming members. The responsibilities of the board delineated in Ordinance 819 were specified as performing “all acts necessary to acquire and develop sites and facilities ant to such programs as are generally understood to be park and recreation functions.” Between 1972 and 2000, the new parks and recreation board began its mission of providing services by acquiring and developing Northgate, Pheasant Hills, Autumn Chase, Sandy Ridge, Green Meadows, Sheffield Estates, Cottonwood, Veterans and Elmer Miller parks. In the past decade, the Parks and Recreation department has accepted donation of park land and now maintains Mallard Cove Park (on a lease from the Gary Diocese), the Hearthstone/Village Circle park property, Eberly Park (expected to be donated by the developer soon) and also holds the largest new piece of property for Central Park, which was purchased in 2006 by the Redevelopment Commission of Dyer for use as a park. The board also hired a full time Director of Parks and Recreation to administer the department. Additionally in 2006 a full time Recreation Supervisor was added to oversee all activities. Recreation grew as facilities permitted, largely utilizing space in the local schools for athletic programs and any other space in the community as room was available for instructional and children’s programs including outside in the parks. In 2001, the Dyer Parks and Recreation Department adopted a five year Parks and Recreation Master Plan as a guide to History of Dyer Parks and Recreation
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 8 “determine and shape the future” of the department. Park and recreation board members who served during the plan’s development and adoption in 2001 were Pat Schwoegler, Mary McShane, Susan Grelewicz, and Don Schultz. In February of 2007 an entire new Park Board, made up of Tim Ring, Gary Sprigg, Kelly Jackson and Sheri Gill, approved the 2007 - 2011 master plan which was assembled by an outside consultant. Challenges facing the department in 2006 primarily included meeting the parks and recreation needs of Dyer’s citizens. Challenges also included restructuring the department to focus on its mission mandated in Ordinance 819. By 2006 the function of maintaining Dyer’s parks had been made a function of the public works department. This was done to make the Town of Dyer maintenance more efficient. In this situation all maintenance is done under the realm of one department and not split among a number of departments. In addition, local communities surrounding Dyer had advanced their parks and recreation services to a position where, if the quality of life in Dyer were to remain competitive with other Northwest Indiana communities, a new master plan would need to be developed. The Park Board has seen a large amount of turnover in the past 10 years which makes it difficult to ensure follow through on a 5 year Master Plan. The 2001-2005 master plan was really the spark for acquiring additional park land and for doing the first ever bond issue strictly for park system capital improvements. That master plan did this by justifying the need for additional park space and capital funding. A huge step for the Town’s park system came when the Redevelopment Commission purchased a 77 acre property as the future Central Park and the Park Board obtaining a $4.5 million bond. The bond was obtained in large part to make initial improvements at Central Park and included smaller improvements in other Dyer parks. A variety of delays in the development of Central Park led to monies being allocated to a variety of parks in Dyer. The bond issue funds were spent on much needed improvements at Northgate Park, Pheasant Hill Park, Veterans Park and Plum Creek Center (a small indoor recreational facility). System wide improvements were made by purchasing a mobile stage, a recreation program registration system and technological equipment upgrades. Preparations for development of Central Park also occurred which included demolition of the former house, barn, other farm structures and the initial seeding of the 77 acre property. That work was followed by construction of a drainage swale along the east and north ends of the park and then followed by development of a 120 space parking lot and three ball fields. The final funds from the bond issue will begin development of the west entrance and parking lot in 2012. You will see in pages 36-64 the status of current parks done as an inventory by the Park Board as well as information on recent improvements completed as a result of the Park Bond.
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 9 The Town of Dyer’s Parks and Recreation Department The Town of Dyer’s Park and Recreation Department for many years was an afterthought. As the residential population of Dyer grew so did the desire for more and better parks. Over the last 10+ years the department has undergone massive improvements which have upgraded the community parks and even purchased the largest park property to meet the need for additional park space. Dyer’s Parks and Recreation department operates through two key components; 1) recreational offerings, and 2) capital plan development. This master plan is an effort to define the continuing needs of the department to support the requirement for additional capital funding. The big absence in making the Parks and Recreation Department a cohesive department is the fact that, with the exception of the 2006 Park Bond, limited dollars have been spent on capital improvements in the past and funding for such improvements in the future is a crucial objective. For enhanced recreational opportunities and improved quality of life additional resources will be needed. This chapter will address both the parks and recreation programming as found today. The town currently has 22 park sites. The acquisition of Central park in 2006 has really become the cornerstone for developing the Town’s park system to enhance recreational opportunity and improve the quality of life. The Hearthstone half of the Hearthstone/Village Circle Park was accepted by the Park Board in December, 2011. Eberly Park and the Village Circle side of Hearthstone/Village Circle Park are developer donations that have been pledged but not transferred into the park system, although both transfers are expected to be completed early in 2012 or shortly thereafter. In order to develop planning initiatives to meet the future recreational requirements of Dyer, it is pivotal to study these future and existing parks and facilities. For this plan, the developer donation sites are treated as already being part of the Dyer park inventory. An inventory and analysis provides the framework for reinvestment into the spaces and the need to add additional park land for future development. It is the essential first step to determine the constraining influences which will affect the overall park system. The planning area was broken down into two sub-sections, North and South with US Route 30 as the dividing line. In many ways, this is both a physical boundary as well as cultural boundary that have affected the town. The southern portion of town, which has more recently developed, has a lack of parkland and amenities compared to the northern, or older, portion of the town. The parks in the inventory were arranged into different classifications. The Park System Level of Service is included in this section which illustrates these classifications and the service radius they cover in town.
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 10 Location Map Dyer is located along the Illinois state line in Lake County, Indiana, 15 miles south of Lake Michigan and 30 miles southeast of downtown Chicago. The town covers approximately six square miles. Neighboring communities include Munster to the north, Schererville to the east, and unincorporated St. John Township to the south. The Illinois state line comprises Dyer’s entire western border. Two of Dyer’s subdivisions, Briar Ridge and Briar Cove, both span Dyer and adjacent Schererville. U. S. Highway 30 is the main east-west thoroughfare through town. Calumet Avenue is the main north-south thoroughfare. Dyer is within minutes of I-80/94, I-294, I-90 (the Indiana Toll Road), I-65, and Illinois 394. Commuter rail service is provided in nearby communities by Metra and the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (South Shore Rail). Within Dyer, Amtrak provides daily service to Chicago and Indianapolis. Freight rail service is provided through town. Bus service is available to both O’Hare and Midway airports at a stop in Highland, Indiana which is approximately 4 miles away. Location
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 11 The oldest parts of Dyer are located along US Route 30 also known as Lincoln Highway. This roadway is built upon one of the oldest trails crossing northwest Indiana, Sauk Trail. The trail was used by Native Americans and early settlers to travel east-west across Indiana and Illinois. Any remnants of Sauk Trail were built over long ago when US Route 30 was originally paved and then widened in the 1990’s. as an alternative east-west corridor to Interstate 80. The topography of Dyer is generally level to gently sloping with an average elevation of 640 feet above sea level. The soil classification for Dyer lies in the Valparaiso Moraine section in Lake County, Indiana. The Town of Dyer drains to the Little Calumet River leading to the Des Plaines, Illinois and eventually into the Mississippi River. There are few bodies of standing water in town. Plum Creek runs North-South through town and has potential to provide access to it or alongside it. The largest body of water is in Pheasant Hills Park. It functions as a retention pond that absorbs offsite flow through the adjacent neighborhood. There are no significant geological features known to date and the natural features found throughout the town could be classified as neutral to impact of the recreational properties associated with this plan. The natural tree canopy of the town has been varied through the years due to many different types of development, including agricultural. The remaining trees are mostly mixed hardwood shade trees with a variety of volunteer and structured plantings throughout town. Constructed Features There are several major constructed features that have affected the town. The largest of these include the Lincoln Highway. By the 1920’s significant attention was focused on Dyer when an Experimental model highway was constructed stretching three miles, traveling east-west from Dyer to Schererville. It was dubbed the “Ideal Section of Lincoln Highway”. Currently, U.S. Route 30 traverses the United States and is known as the Lincoln Highway. Dyer is the entranceway to Indiana on this historic highway. The remaining features include the Amoco Pipeline, Calumet Avenue Extension, Railroads and St. Margaret Mercy Healthcare System. The following is a short description of each; 1. Amoco Pipeline: A petroleum pipeline traverses the northwest corner of Dyer could be a corridor for future trail development. 2. Calumet Avenue Extension: Calumet Avenue is the major thoroughfare traveling north-south. It has had a significant impact to the town in all aspects of town life from transportation to economic development. 3. Railroads: There are two sets of active tracks that cross Dyer and one vacated set which has been targeted for a possible rails-to-trails corridor. The east- west vacated line is included on the NIRPC priority corridor system as a potential tie in to the Old Plank Road trail in Illinois. 4. St. Margaret Mercy Healthcare Center– South Campus: The hospital located in Dyer is a major employer and land holder with the town. Natural Features and Landscape
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 12 According to the 2010 Census there are 16,390 people residing in the town of Dyer, making the population density of 2,731.67 people per square mile. There are 6,125 housing units at an average density of 1,020.83 per square mile. The median value of owner occupied housing units is $197,400. The racial makeup of Dyer, considered a bedroom community in the Chicago Metropolitan area, is made up primarily of Caucasian residents. As of 2009, the median income for a household in the town was $76,599. The estimated per capita income for the town was $34,275. Both figures are higher than the average for the state of Indiana. Only about 0.7% of families and 1.2% of the population were estimated to be below the poverty line. The average persons per household is 2.76 which slightly higher than the 2.49 average for the state of Indiana. The education level for person 25 years of age and older shows 93.7% hold at least at high school diploma while 29.9% hold a Bachelors Degree or higher. Analysis of Demographics From a programming standpoint, the direction of the department has somewhat changed in the last 10+ years. Previously the direction for the department was to concentrate on programs for youth (ages 0-18). However, new home building has tapered off in the last 10 years and the community’s population has changed. There is a desire for more and more adult programming and facilities as the youth category figures have decreased. While youth and early childhood programs will still be offered efforts are being made to offer more adult activities and facilities. Since the department has been started programs are offered but only exist when participant fees cover all expenses associated with the program. As a mid- 0.00% 20.00% 40.00% 60.00% 80.00% 100.00% Racial MakeUp Racial MakeUp Population Age Under 5 yrs. Under 18 yrs. Over 65 yrs. 18 - 64 yrs. Demographics – Social/Economic
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 13 high income level community, Dyer is able to offer some programs that may not be considered affordable in some communities with lower income levels. As for facilities, Dyer has seen a growth in population and median income level over the last 20+ years. This change along with the desire for more and improved park and recreation facilities has led the Town to make big strides in the last 10 years. In 2006, the first ever bond issue strictly for parks, was approved. That bond issue was done for the maximum allowed by the State statute which has invested approximately $4.5 million in the Dyer parks system since then. This capital funding helped update a number of parks as well as initial improvements at a few of the newer park properties in Dyer. Also in 2006, one of the largest remaining undeveloped properties in Town was acquired for a Central Park (77 acres) at a price of over $5 million. That purchase would not have been made possible without community support. The Town of Dyer’s Redevelopment Commission issued those bonds to pay for that acquisition. Dyer’s recent past is indicative of being willing and able to pay for improvements which are desired by the community. As the final dollars from the first bond issue are spent there is already talk of another bond issue to continue park improvements and goals within this plan. While the community accepts paying for additional improvements it is commonly accepted that a future bond issue for parks would not be done until the current one is paid off. This is in tune with the concept that was stated at the onset of the initial bond issue. The first bond issue would have an initial tax increase but to avoid future ones and keep that levy the same that another bond issue would be done as the first one expires. This ‘revolving bond issue’ concept would help to keep the parks from falling into disrepair and also help fund any further new improvements to the system. Dyer has long desired a Community Center as a facility to act as a ‘community gathering place’. Within such a facility there is a desire for activity space for all ages including possible fitness, aquatic, early childhood, senior, gymnasium and associated office space. Space for such a community gathering place has been set aside at the Central Park property and may even need to be more than just a community center to make it survive. A ‘Town Center’ with all of the amenities of a community center and a Town Hall might be an even better facility. Such a facility would help meet the need for programming space and the desire for a community center.
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 14 The Town of Dyer advocated a process of public participation that was central to the development of the individual park site plans that make up the Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan. This master plan process included the following steps; 1. Information Gathering & Project Start-Up 2. Community Input and Public Stakeholder Involvement. Specific questions from a community survey for the park system as well as three public meetings to gather ideas at the beginning of the process. 3. Analysis of existing conditions through a site inventory study and discussions with staff. 4. Extensive study sessions by the Park Board to take survey results, public input meeting results and park board representatives to put together an action plan for park improvements. 5. Development of preliminary recommendations. 6. Development of final site plans with recommendations, cost and implementation strategy. 7. Park Board approval of master plan report. The intent of the Park Board and the Town Council is to focus efforts on developing Central Park while at the same time keeping up-to-date with the other park sites. Resident input supports this vision. The three vision statements that were generated early on in the process were as follows: 1) To move towards more centrally located larger parks. 2) To explore opportunities for an indoor athletic facility and aquatic facility. 3) To create more walking/biking paths within the town, not just within the parks, creating more recreational outlets for all Dyer residents, not just youth. These are important to consider as the plan is molded because they reflect many of the public’s ideas as to the future direction of the agency. Several administrative goals are included in the following sections that have the power to transform the agency. Four key recommendations include; 1) Look for ways that Dyer Park facilities can be self-supporting financially yet affordable to residents. 2) Look at getting rid of/auctioning off duplicate park properties that are Public Participation/Development of the Master Plan
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 15 too concentrated in one area to free up operating dollars to fund other park maintenance/improvements. 3) In a time of governmental budget cuts, to find alternative ways to fund park improvements in the way of resident involvement, grants, donations, sponsorships and naming rights. 4) Ensuring the east-west rail corridor, immediately adjacent to the south end of Central Park, is included on the Regional Planning Commission’s priority corridor map for transportation enhancement opportunities. This corridor could connect the Pennsy Greenway in Schererville to the Old Plank Trail in Illinois through Dyer. It is the goal of the current Park Board and leadership to create a plan that is clear, concise and focused on common sense solutions that can be implemented with notable improvements in a short amount of time. Second, the plan needs to have the voice of the public and put into action those requests. Finally, it needs to be creative in steps to maximize revenue sources to allow reinvestment into the agency allowing for growth within the department to happen. This is how to measure success for the future of parks and recreation in Dyer. On the following pages are charts and tables of information gathered through the public survey portion of the planning process. The public input survey was mailed to all Town of Dyer residents in July, 2011. Residents were also given the opportunity to complete the survey online by going to the Town of Dyer website.
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 16 Community Needs Assessment Results The Town of Dyer Park and Recreation Department Community needs assessment was mailed to all residents in July, 2011 in the monthly newsletter which accompanies each Town utility bill. Following is a summary of the needs assessment. Approximately 6,000 utility bills are mailed out and there were a total of 402 questionnaires returned for a response rate of 6.7%. For those that visited the parks, which parks or buildings did they visit was asked. As one would expect, the community level parks were the most visited parks in the last year. On average, three out of every five people visited Pheasant Hills Park and Northgate Park in the last year. Elmer Miller Park, while not officially a community level park was the next highest at about one of every five people. 14% of the Town indicated they have visited Plum Creek Center. For a building that opened less than two years ago it has already become a destination for rentals and for a number of the parks and recreation department programs. Did members of your household use Dyer parks in the last year? Yes 84% 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 Pheasant Hills Park Northgate Park Elmer Miller Park Plum Creek Center Other Autumn Chase Park Sandy Ridge Park Green Meadows Park Most popular used parks or buildings (percentage of responses)
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 17 The following chart shows the most popular park amenities that people use when visiting the parks. More than half of all questionnaires indicated pathways were the most popular amenities in the parks while playground equipment was marked as the most used on just under half of all questionnaires. Convenience amenities of restrooms and drinking fountains were indicated on about one out of every three returned surveys. Athletic fields and picnic shelters were indicated on one of every four questionnaires. The needs assessment asked how patrons rate the overall general conditions of park facilities. Nearly 73% of the respondents indicated the general park conditions to be good or excellent. 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 Most popular used park amenities (percentage of responses) 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 Excellent Good Fair Poor Don't Know General Park Conditions Rating
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 18 The Town of Dyer recently purchased a 77 acre tract of land for a future Central Park. Respondents were asked, as the park develops what type of amenities you would like to see at that park in the future. One question asked whether anyone participated in a recreational program in the last 12 months and a follow up question asked the opinion as to whether or not the department offers a wide enough variety of programs. The answers to these two related questions seem to imply that most people are happy with the variety of programs but for various reasons they don’t participate in them. This may support the argument that the times/days that programs are offered, which is typically dictated by availability of facilities, are not convenient enough. A Community Center for such activities can offer the programs at times/days that more people find convenient. 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 Future Central Park Amenities (percentages of responses) Household participation in dept. programs Yes (26%) No (73%) no answer (1%) Wide enough variety of programs Yes (71.4%) No (15.7%) no answer (12.9%)
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 19 The age demographic for the households that submitted a needs assessment is interesting to see and so is the length of time people that people have lived in the Town of Dyer. The combined three youngest age groups add to 30%. At that point there are almost equal thirds to the age demographic for Dyer (1-19 yrs. 30%, 20-49 yrs. 37%, 50+, 33%). This breakdown shows diversity in the age populations in Dyer and because of it the department should keep in mind all ages when planning parks, facilities and programs. Ages Ages 1-6 (11%) Ages 7-12 (10%) Ages 13-19 (9%) Ages 20-49 (37%) Ages 50 + (33%) Length of time living in Dyer less than 3 yrs.(6.0%) 3-5 years (12.7%) 6-10 years (17.4%) over 10 years (63.2%)
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 20 Public Participation Meetings The Park Board also held a series of public input meetings in the main meeting room at Town Hall which were publicized in the monthly town newsletter, in the local newspapers and on the town website urging resident participation. The first of these meetings was geared specifically to the local sports organizations with personal invitations being sent to each group encouraging their input. Invitation letters were direct mailed to local special interest groups including Dyer Kickers Soccer Club, Dyer Little League Baseball, Dyer Babe Ruth Baseball and Dyer Girls Softball. The first meeting, Oct. 12, 2011 had three residents attend including a representative from Dyer Kickers Soccer Club. A Babe Ruth Baseball representative and a Dyer Girls Softball representative did not attend but did communicate via email and later met with staff regarding the master plan. The second meeting, Oct. 18, 2011 had no attendance while the third meeting, Oct. 25, 2011 had three residents attend. The three meetings were not well attended, however, the smaller groups allowed for a lot of dialogue between the residents and those involved in creating this plan. The discussions typically involved sharing with people the future master plan for various parks. The development of Central Park interested everyone and is considered to be a central community meeting place as the Town of Dyer fully develops in the years to come. The Park Board could interpret the lack of attendance at the public meetings one of two ways: 1) the residents are happy with the way parks have been developing or 2) there is no interest in how the parks in Dyer are developed. Considering that a lot of effort was given to advertise the meetings, that surveys were already collected from earlier in the fall and a lot of improvements have been made to the park system in the past six years the Board believes that improvements are targeting the most needed areas. A total of 402 written surveys returned showed a definite interest in the parks program in Dyer which is approximately a 7% response rate. Compilation results show that residents are reasonably happy with the current state of parks in Dyer, however, they did include ideas of ways to improve/expand the park system in the Town of Dyer. During the public input meetings, residents were surprised at how low the Parks budget and the percentage of that money was consumed by salaries and maintaining our current parks (ie. mowing and maintenance). However Dyer is in line with the 2012 PRORAGIS report that NRPA assembled. The table below shows the comparison of that report versus Dyer’s parks and recreation operating fund. Budget Percentiles: PRORAGIS* DYER Personnel 56% 57% Operations 37% 43% Capital 6% 0% Other 1% 0% *2012 NRPA PRORAGIS STUDY
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 21 At a time across the state of Indiana and especially in Lake County, where all governmental departments are experiencing budget freezes and reductions, residents would still argue that the leadership of the town continues to give understand the value of a strong parks and recreation department to the quality of life in a community. If the town leadership, along with the Park Board, adopt the ideas within this plan and more importantly make parks and recreation a priority by funding it at higher levels, this and future plans can succeed. It is only within adequate budgeting that the park and recreation agency envisioned by the public support for an enhanced and expanded park and recreation system can happen. The Town of Dyer is well below comparable towns in per capita recreational expenditures for the size of its community (see page 58). This is an area that should be addressed if continued progress is desired. A key component to this plan is the development of a long term master plan for the new 77 acre Central Park off of 213th Street. This new park site has the potential to be the unifying force and help define the town. The current town leadership has shown its desire to support and develop the parks by the support for and creation of a joint agreement between the Dyer Redevelopment Commission and the Dyer Park Board to construct a road into the west side (off of Calumet Avenue) into Central Park. At the time of this study, a multi-purpose ball park complex and paved parking lot has been completed. Furthermore, plans for an entrance and parking lot to Central Park, off of Calumet Avenue, were out for bid. Previous Planning Efforts The Dyer Parks and Recreation Department was created by Ordinance 819 on May 9, 1972. The ordinance assigned the duties of performing “all acts necessary to acquire and develop sites and facilities and to conduct such programs as are generally understood to be park (and) recreation functions.” In addition, the ordinance stated that the board had “the power and duty to: Prepare a plan for parks and recreation purposes in the Town of Dyer.” Several attempts have been made over the past two decades at master planning by the park board, some of which were fruitful and others which were not. The most recent planning efforts included the Five Year Parks & Recreation Master Plan 2006-2011.
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 22 That plan identified a number of ambitious goals and objectives. Among them were some of the following issues and the status of them at the date of this current plan: Administrative Goals (achieved): - Change title of Superintendent of Parks and Recreation to Director of Parks and Recreation. - Update the Department’s computer software through the purchase of recreation registration and facility scheduling module. - Creation of a detailed operating budget. Administrative Goals (not achieved): - Work with Town Council to access the foundation for additional resources and leverage giving opportunities for parks. - Create a use agreement with local special interest groups using park properties. - Shorten park bond length to ten years or less, pay off bonds as quickly as possible and re-bond for additional monies at the end of the 2006-2011 5 year plan. - Review and improve the funding for park maintenance. - Fund the addition of one park maintenance worker. Recreation Goals (achieved): - Hire a full-time recreational supervisor that is funded with revenues generated from programs. - Develop individual site plans for existing parks as a tool for improving the system (see details of improvements in this current plan). - Establish a new non-reverting operating fund, creating at least ten new recreation categories – including morning childcare programs; after school programs for grade school children; organize and operate adult sports leagues such as flag football and softball. Recreation Goals (not achieved): - Acquire strategic in-fill neighborhood park sites to provide uniform level of service coverage across the entire town. - Develop links between neighborhoods and park facilities; fund a study to determine exact routes, budgets and timeframes through Public Works road improvements and additional grant monies that are available. - Identify corridors for an overall primary multi-use pathway system. - Seek alternative revenue sources for necessary park capital dollars.
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Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 30 Town of Dyer Parks map
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 31 This section of the master plan is a guide of the current state of the agency to provide a benchmark for all future improvement projects. Level of Service In terms of acreage per person, the Town of Dyer does fall short of many standards used to measure this goal. It was noted that the Dyer Parks and Recreation Department adopted NRPA standards for acreage and projected needs as population continues to grow. However, it is our position that while an arbitrary standard from a national organization is a good guide; it should not be the adopted standard due to convenience. This plan will provide a custom approach by developing a facility need based on site analysis, relying on survey data, public input, park location and finally capital costs to improve each site. As the town’s population continues to grow, the need for additional park space will continue to present a constant issue. The town leadership should develop a specific developer land/cash development ordinance to achieve strategic land holdings in new developments. It is the only available tool to acquire land at a reasonable cost and ensure gaps in level of service do not worsen as development happens. The town has approximately 181.4 acres of parkland owned by the town. This equals out to 11.1 acres per thousand residents. This number still falls short of the statewide goal of 20 acres per thousand. However, when Central Park was added to the inventory, it is the opinion of the current Park Board and those at public meetings that adequate overall parkland is present for a town of less than 20,000 residents when reviewing local conditions and what makes logical sense for the Town of Dyer. Town ordinances calling for the donation of park land for developments allowed for the acceptance of detention ponds and land that is physically unable to improve/develop. These types of properties, although allowing more green space to the park inventory, have handcuffed the Parks and Recreation Department and served as a financial drain without much benefit. Finally, there is a need for additional athletic fields to be developed to address the continued growth of the town. This will allow the recreation department to provide a broader range of field types for its own use as well as assisting other leagues. These fields would be located at the new Central Park as well as larger neighborhood parks such as Eberly and Hearthstone/Village Circle. Site Inventory/Goals/Accessibility
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 32 Site Inventory & Analysis The Town of Dyer’s existing park system is depicted with this summary. The system is composed of 22 park sites. Each park site on the following pages was reviewed during the fall of 2011 when all the park sites were examined and evaluated. The name, size, ID, type, amenities, general park impressions, accessibility and photos of existing conditions are listed on each inventory page. In addition, specific goals/objective for each park property is listed on the inventory sheet as well. The park system as a whole has suffered from a lack of comprehensive planning and detailed site design in the past. This is nearly always a symptom of lack of capital budgeting to improve the park spaces. This approach is apparent from the time spent in each park. The parks are evenly located through the town which is a positive, but the entire park land holdings should be re-evaluated to match the level of service. Possible re- allocation/reduction of park properties and the addition of a capital improvement plan will be crucial to the success of this 5 year master plan.
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 33 Site Inventory Methodology The Park Board conducted a site visit and analysis for the comprehensive park & recreation master plan in which each park site was walked to review the existing conditions found. The survey and analysis was conducted as follows: 1. Observations (Visual Assessment) – A visual inspection was conducted examining existing conditions of the park site. No mechanical or physical testing was undertaken. 2. Photographic Documentation – Photographs were taken of existing conditions to document typical areas for reference and possible problem areas. 3. General Park Impressions – First reaction to the park space and characteristics of the site. 4. Discussion – the Park Board then met and reviewed each property and listed goals/objectives/plans for each location. Accessibility and Universal Design In an on-going effort, the parks and recreation department continually evaluates facilities and programs for ways to improve accessibility. Purchasing accessible products and ensuring accessibility to newly constructed facilities is a constant task when funding is available for such. Rick Eberly, Interim Town Manager, has been designated as the Town of Dyer’s ADA coordinator. The Town has used Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to help improve accessibility throughout Town over the last 10+ years. In the parks the Town has provided sidewalk access from the existing neighborhood sidewalks through the park and to the playground areas at a number of sites where the sidewalks previously ended at the edge of the park property. A couple of parks also used this funding to provide pathway access to park amenities such as basketball court, playgrounds and two ball fields. This funding also allowed for a retrofit of the washroom facilities at the Northgate Park shelter which previously did not meet ADA standards. All of the Town’s playgrounds have engineered wood fiber, which meets ASTM standards, as the accessible safety surfacing beneath the amenities. The only exception to this is the playground at Cherry Hill Park which due to the age of the structure and its proximity to the new community level playground at Pheasant Hills Park will be removed when it reaches its useful life and not replaced. Improvements will continue to be made through universal design for newly constructed facilities throughout the park system. One of the goals for this plan is to continue to improve accessibility to various existing park amenities. There are amenities that stand alone may be accessible but do not have ADA accessible routes to get to the equipment. Accessibility issues do exist in certain parks. The Town has used past CDBG funds to improve all curb cuts for ADA accessibility. Now that those have been brought up to standard the
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 34 CDBG funds should be available to help improve accessibility issues as noted in this plan. Those funds are only received every other year and ultimately the decision is made by the Town Council as to how to spend CDBG funds. If CDBG or other funding is made available (possibly through a future park bond issue) these accessibility issues could be corrected in the next 8-10 years. The total cost to remedy the accessibility issues in all of the existing parks is estimated around $500,000. The majority of this is for providing accessible routes to park amenities such as play equipment and athletic fields. Some signage would also need to be replaced as a part of these improvements. The Town of Dyer Parks and Recreation department follows the section 504 guidelines of the American with Disabilities Act. That section states that no qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity that receives Federal financial assistance. The Parks and Recreation department prints in each of their three seasonal activity guides annually the following statement: “Regulations of the US Dept. of Interior strictly prohibit unlawful discrimination in departmental Federally Assisted Programs on the basis of race, color, national origin, age or handicap. Any person who believes he or she had been discriminated against in any program, activity or facility operated by a recipient of Federal assistance should write to Director, Equal Opportunity Program; National Park Service; PO Box 37127; Washington D.C. 20013-7127.” In self-evaluation this statement has been neglected to be included in the seasonal brochures but in doing the master plan has reminded the department to include it once again. The annual brochures are mailed direct to all residencies in the Town of Dyer three times a year. A summer brochure is mailed typically in April, a fall brochure is typically mailed in August and a winter/spring brochure is typically mailed in December. Any individual can file an ADA grievance locally with the Town of Dyer. This can be done by submitting in writing an individual’s full name, mailing address and phone number along with a brief description about the ADA violation to: Town of Dyer Attn: Rick Eberly, ADA Coordinator 1 Town Square Dyer IN 46311 Violations can also be submitted via the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Disability Rights Section - NYAV Washington, D.C. 20530 www.ada.gov (800) 514-0301 (voice) (800) 514-0383 (TTY)
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Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 36 Park Name: Veterans Park Park ID: 1 Park Location: North Park Size: 5.7 acres Park Type: Neighborhood Park Amenities: Fitness Trail (Asphalt); Playground General Park Impressions: Park site is one of the better developments. It includes a detention basin as part of the park site. The detention basin could act as a practice field if the concrete swales were removed. Accessibility Level: Playground transfer module is not close to access point Notes: Playground equipment is approximately 10 years old. Normal life expectancy of equipment is 15-20 years, so this play equipment has reached one half of its life expectancy. Goals for park: There is a definite lack of landscaping and shade trees in this park. There are however, a few benches placed along the trail in the park. A goal to improve this park would be to add trees throughout the park and along the path. Another improvement would be to add exercise stations along the walking path. If Main Street is extended west into the state of Illinois, there may be a need to add a fence between the park and the roadway. These types of improvements could be funded through a Capital Improvement Fund.
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 37 Park Name: Veterans Park (continued) Park ID: 1
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 38 Park Name: Northgate Park Park ID: 2 Park Location: North Park Size: 23.9 acres Park Type: Community Park Amenities: Softball fields - 5; Trail – asphalt looping; Soccer Fields – 6 different sizes; Tennis Courts – 2; Volleyball Courts – 1 sand and 2 grass; Horse Shoe Pit; Basketball Court – 3 half courts; Large Shelter – with electrical; Concession; Restrooms; Playground; Sled Hill and Parking Lot – 2, asphalt, +/- 160 spaces General Park Impressions: Major renovation and improvements were made to this park in the past two years. Identified in the last master plan as a park that needed a complete renovation, this park has seen a transformation. With the park being updated and improved, the existing shelter is noticeably dilapidated and in need of attention. Accessibility Level: Good, paved access to tennis courts, basketball courts, playground area were added in 2010. Site could use a connection at ball field #1 and #5 as well as to spectator areas for soccer fields. Notes: Funds were used from the 2006 Park Bond to re-surface/fence the tennis courts, basketball courts were added, new playground equipment was placed, and the parking lot was extended and repaved. Goals for park: The 40+ year old shelter is a priority for this park. At a minimum, wooden boards need replaced and the shelter needs painting. This shelter is often rented by residents, sports groups and neighboring community residents. This park would also benefit from a paved walking path from the shelter area to Field 1. These types of improvements could be funded through a Capital Improvement Fund.
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 39 Park Name: Northgate Park (continued) Park ID: 2
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 40 Park Name: Heritage Estates Park Park ID: 3 Park Location: North Park Size: 0.8 acres Park Type: Pocket Park Amenities: Fitness Trail (Asphalt); Playground General Park Impressions: Park site is small with limited. Open space. Accessibility Level: Poor; need accessible route from sidewalk to swings, tot swings and play equipment. Notes: Playground equipment at this site was vandalized in 2010. Insurance monies were combined with park dollars to purchase a new slide, 2 new riding toys, new swings and chains, new picnic table and new mulch for the fall zone was added. Goals for park: Park in its current state is good for a pocket park.
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 41 Park Name: Sunset Park Park ID: 4 Park Location: North Park Size: 0.5 acres Park Type: Pocket Park Amenities: Open space - undeveloped General Park Impressions: Park is in close proximity to other parks with equipment/amenities. Accessibility Level: Poor – park is undeveloped. Notes: No accessibility Goals for park: This property has been targeted by the Park Board for sale/auction.
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 42 Park Name: Berkley Drive Park Park ID: 5 Park Location: North Park Size: 0.3 acres Park Type: Pocket Park Amenities: None General Park Impressions: Park site is undeveloped. Accessibility Level: Poor – park is undeveloped Notes: No accessibility Goals for park: This property has been targeted by the Park Board for sale/auction.
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 43 Park Name: Wildflower Park Park ID: 6 Park Location: North Park Size: 1.9 acres Park Type: Special use Park Amenities: Open Space – Detention Basin General Park Impressions: Park site is undeveloped. Accessibility Level: Poor – site is undeveloped. Notes: This property is a detention basin with no real use other than open space for outdoor activities. Goals for park: This piece of property is deeded to the Town of Dyer, however it is maintained by the Parks Department. This property would be best if turned over to owner.
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 44 Park Name: Briar Crossing Park Park ID: 7 Park Location: North Park Size: 9.4 acres Park Type: Neighborhood Park Amenities: Open Space with detention basin General Park Impressions: This park site is mostly a large detention basin with some high ground and a few existing trees. Accessibility Level: Poor – site is undeveloped. Notes: This property was discussed at the time of the last 5 year plan for sale for multi-family residential lots if Central Park became a reality. Goals for park: With Central Park now a reality and literally across the street, this is the prime time to divide this property and sell off the top shelf of the land for multi-residential lots. The detention area would remain as open space and to hold storm water. It is the hope of the Park Board that the owner, the Town of Dyer, would sell off this property and put the proceeds of said sale into the development of Central Park.
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 45 Park Name: Green Meadows Park Park ID: 8 Park Location: North Park Size: 3.8 acres Park Type: Neighborhood Park Amenities: Baseball Field; Half Basketball Court; Looping Asphalt Fitness Trail and Playground. General Park Impressions: One of the better parks in the system. Children are out in high numbers using the equipment and playing basketball. There is electric service and security lighting at playground. Accessibility Level: Good inside park. However curb cut at street entrance is needed. Notes: Playground equipment is fairly new. No parking provided on-site. Goals for park: The basketball court is in need of improvements including repainting court and a new rim/net. In addition, the baseball field needs maintenance as well and would benefit from the addition of crushed stone for the infield. Replace curb at entry to park to make it ADA accessible. This park could benefit from tree plantings for shade and the overall aesthetic look of the property. These types of improvements could be funded through a Capital Improvement Fund.
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 46 Park Name: Green Meadows Park (continued) Park ID: 8
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 47 Park Name: Lincoln Park Park ID: 9 Park Location: North Park Size: 1.0 acres Park Type: Pocket Park Park Amenities: Open Space – Detention Basin; Playground General Park Impressions: Park site is in poor condition. Equipment is designed with a ramp for accessibility but no significant play events or paved route is provided. Accessibility Level: Poor – needs accessible route from park edge to playground area. Notes: No accessibility to 12+ year old accessible equipment. Goals for park: When playground equipment reaches the point of needing replacement, the thought is to dismantle equipment and not replace it. At that time, the Park Board would then deed the property to the Storm Board for much needed storm water retention area. If in discussion with Storm Board, the property is desired for water retention more expediently, the property can be deeded to the Storm Board and equipment moved (if in decent enough shape) to another property lacking equipment.
Town of Dyer 2012-2016 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan Page 48 Park Name: Pheasant Hills Park Park ID: 10 Park Location: South Park Size: 29.0 acres Park Type: Community Park Amenities: Looping Paved Trail (Asphalt); Playground; Small Picnic Shelter with electric; Large Picnic Shelter with electric; Picnic tables; 2 soccer fields; Horse Shoe Pit; Skate Park; Storm Water Pond (shallow – approx 12 acres); Paved parking lot with 40+ spaces plus access to over 100 spaces. General Park Impressions: Park site has undergone extensive updating in the past two years with the addition of a skate park, new shelters, paved walking path, new playground equipment, landscaping and parking. The area along the edge of the pond has been cleared of brush and rip rap added for an aesthetic appeal to the park. Accessibility Level: Good. Accessible connection from path to skate park is needed. Notes: The improvements to this park were made possible from funds from the 2006 Park Bond. It is the largest park on the south side of town and is home to town festivals, concerts in the park, and other town functions. Goals for park: While a large amount has been spent on this park in the past few years, it is notable that it is the main park for the residents on the south side of town. This property is in need of new park signs to match those of other parks in the town to provide a more cohesive look. In addition, the addition of a p
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