The Itasca Park District was awarded the coveted 2017 National Gold Medal Award from the National Recreation and Parks Association. Four finalists from across the nation were competing for this prestigious award. Itasca with a population of approximately 9,000 was opposing park districts with populations of up to 30,000. The park district won this award previously in 2003 and 2009.
Itasca parks are now home to four artificial turf surface playgrounds: Country Club (2017), Schiller (2018), Ray Franzen Bird Sanctuary (2018), and Washington (2017). The playgrounds and surfacing allow for less maintenance, more comfortable play surface for the little ones and provide accessibility for all. And don’t forget the turf volleyball court at Peacock Park!
Last year, the District rededicated the Ray Franzen Bird Sanctuary. The project included: picnic shelter, nature-based playground, baggos, interpretive signage, The Barking Lot dog park (opened Spring 2019) and 1/3 mile ADA pathway made of boardwalk and concrete throughout the Sanctuary. Now for the first time the Sanctuary is accessible to all. It is open 365 days of the year, from sunrise to sunset for people to enjoy. With the forward thinking of Itasca Ancestors, the continued Park District promise to preserve open space, and commitment to Itasca History; this is just another Itasca Park District Project which embraces this Village Motto of “Committed To Our Future, Inspired By Our Past.”
Summer/Fall of 2019, the Park District acquired 3.33 acres of additional land at Benson Park with the assistance of a grant; replaced the entire parking lot at the Itasca Recreation & Fitness Center; and installed interpretive and wayfinding signage throughout the Springbrook Nature Center. Future projects include the installation of new interior exhibits throughout the Springbrook Nature Center and the complete replacement of the Itasca Waterpark Bathhouse!
The Itasca Park District is continuously evolving and changing! To see what is new, stop by the parks, fitness center water park, and other facilities, and come enjoy the many special events throughout the year. Visit itascaparkdistrict.com for more information.
Itasca recreation & fitness center
The Itasca Fitness Center is always evolving, changing, and keeping up with the latest trends and equipment – at an affordable rate. Come check out the $100,000 upgrade that added new cardio equipment and individual TV monitors with cable/internet, installed this past spring.
Parks & playgrounds
Country Club and Washington Park playgrounds were revitalized this past year. Both received upgraded playground equipment, picnic shelters and artificial turf rather than the usual mulch. The district is working on plans for the next playground replacement: Schiller Park!
Itasca depot museum caboose
Here you experience Itasca History and can step-onto an original 1939 Milwaukee Road Rib-Side Caboose. The 144-year-old Itasca Train Depot Museum, restored back to its original state, is the oldest publicly owned building in Itasca and home to Itasca history.
Ray franzen bird sanctuary
This 11.84-acre facility, south of the Softball Complex fields, was donated to the Itasca Park District by Raymond A. and Violet M. Franzen in 1985. The Franzens had a “very deep interest in all wildlife, birds, fish and animals, but especially birds, including song birds and upland game foul, his favorite of the latter being Canadian Geese” per Neil A. Franzen, son, in a letter dated 1986 to the Itasca Park District. Therefore, the land was dedicated in 1986 as the “Ray Franzen Bird Sanctuary.” Over the years, the sanctuary has remained untouched and inaccessible. Now, in 2017, with the assistance of a $363,500 OSLAD Grant, the park district is excited for this fantastic $850,000 renovation that includes Itasca’s first dog park, a nature-based play area, interpretive signage, picnic shelter and grill, half-mile boardwalk/pathway and habitat restoration. Watch for the 2018 grand opening in late spring/early summer.
2017 gold medal finalist
The Itasca Park District has once again been named a Gold Medal Finalist through the National Recreation and Parks Association. Four finalists from across the nation are competing for this prestigious award. Itasca with a population of approximately 9,000 is opposing park districts with populations of up to 30,000. The park district has won this award previously in 2003 and 2009. The winner will be announced in September 2017 at the national conference.
To see what is new, stop by the parks, fitness center and other facilities, and come enjoy the many special events throughout the year. Visit www.itascaparkdistrict.com for more information.