The Fox Valley Park District last spring engaged Evanston-based aQity Research & Insight to conduct a comprehensive Community Survey and provide officials with a snapshot of the District’s perception and performance when viewed through the lens of residents.

The 34-question survey covered FVPD parks and trails, facilities, and programs and events, along with specifics (cleanliness, customer service, usage frequency, etc.) about each area.

“It provides evidence to what our citizens value,” FVPD Executive Director Jim Pilmer said of the survey. “It’s reaffirmation with a report card. It’s accountability.”

Data collection took place from May to mid-July, and aQity shared results at a recent fall meeting with the FVPD’s Board of Commissioners.

Some takeaways:

  • The FVPD’s overall esteem rating of 7.5 (on a 0-10 scale) is significantly higher than the statewide benchmark of 6.6 (based on a 2022 survey of more than 1,900 residents in park districts throughout Illinois).
  • Eighty percent rate the FVPD favorably, including 29% who gave it the highest scores (9 or 10).
  • When asked what they like most, 56% of respondents cited parks and trails, followed by programs and facilities.
  • Satisfaction with parks and facilities is “very strong,” according to aQity, with scores averaging 7.0 or higher. (Residents cited overall experience, accessibility and safety as positives.)
  • From 11 general program options, both fitness and pool/aquatics programs “are clearly in highest demand,” and both represent opportunities for improvement.

About a fourth of respondents were part of an independent survey panel, while the remaining residents received invitations sent by aQity to about 7,400 households throughout the District. The random household sample was weighted to match U.S. Census data for the portions of Aurora, North Aurora, Montgomery, and DuPage and Will Counties within FVPD boundaries by region, age, gender, race, ethnicity, and percentage of households with children.

“All components of the Park District’s mission and objectives are in the report, but it reaffirms priorities toward our fiscal responsibility,” Pilmer said. “Community feedback allows us to continue our strategic planning for what our citizens have in highest demand.

“We want to make sure we’re putting financial resources of tax dollars where they’re most appreciated and used.”