In the 1950s, the district’s appropriation ordinance expanded to include an annual $200 rental for “dumping privileges to keep trash and rubbish from Park District grounds and roads, streets, drives and bridges”. The creation of the public dumping grounds for garbage was in Big Rock Township on property rented from Mr. Francis Skelly. Again, there was no mention of any type of recreational programs or initiatives. The park district paid for dumping privileges until 1977.
Tax revenue for the district was approximately $2,101 in 1967. The appropriation ordinance passed in June of that year, earmarked funds for playgrounds and recreational purposes for the first time ever, albeit only a modest amount of $300.
In August 1968, a “self-appointed citizen group” in Sugar Grove proposed “Recreation ’68 Program” featuring recreation program activities for an average of 35 children for year 1969. These volunteers had already been providing activities like, arts and crafts, instructional sports such as archery, tennis and golf, movie night, and Friday night teen dances. They approached the park district board with a request for funding of about $245.62 to fund the balance needed to continue to run these programs after raising more than $2,000 in contributions, fundraisers, and donations.
The park board voted not to fund these programs for a variety of reasons including the fact that in doing so, the recreation funding for the entire district would have been expended for children in Sugar Grove without regard to Big Rock.
The following year, the park board approved funding for “Recreation 69” of Sugar Grove in the amount of $300 for recreation purposes.
1970s & 1980s
Small amounts of funding for recreational programming was given to groups in Sugar Grove and Big Rock over the next few decades. In 1971, checks were written to Sugar Grove Little League $250, Little League of Big Rock $150, and $300 for “Recreation 70” in Sugar Grove. Only modest increases in funding were given to these groups in subsequent years, and the district continued to exist on the same tax rate it had when the district was formed in 1947.
In 1994, the park board members from Big Rock Township initiated a plan to disconnect from the joint taxing body. Sugar Grove Township was growing at a much faster rate than its Big Rock Township counterpart. Board members of the district felt that the population of Sugar Grove Township wanted more recreational programs for its citizens, wanted more parks, and would be willing to pay more in taxes to have these services. On the other hand, Big Rock Township was thought to want to maintain its low tax rate and provide only moderate services. History was repeating itself from the early days with the Fox Valley district.
The process of disconnection was no easy feat. Park district leaders had to acquire signatures from more than 80% of the land owners in the Township limits. This took almost two years to complete, but by 1996 Big Rock Township was disconnected from the partnership. This disconnection was the largest ever by a park district in the state of Illinois. Soon after the disconnection, the park district board changed its name to the Sugar Grove Township Park District and Pleasure Driveway to better reflect its boundaries.
From the time of the disconnection in 1996 until 2003, the Sugar Grove district went to the ballots several times asking voters to approve a reorganized district and a new tax rate. After many defeats at the polls, the district finally passed a referendum on April 1, 2003. That day marks the birth of the Sugar Grove Park District as it is today. The proposition to reorganize as a Park District passed 998 to 494 votes. The funding proposition passed by a much more narrow margin of only 75 votes passing 769 to 694 giving the district tax revenues of about $350,000 annually.
By July 2003, the park district moved into a temporary office in a mobile building in Volunteer Park. In October, board members hired the district first ever full-time employee and director. Soon after, the director hired two more full-time staff, and transferred ownership and maintenance of village parks to the park district. He also began developing a brochure full of recreation programs for the community.
In January of 2005, the Sugar Grove Park District joined Fox Valley Special Recreation Association. The association provides “a diverse range of recreation and leisure opportunities engaging individuals with disabilities” for seven park districts in the Fox River region.
In August 2005, purchased the old Sugar Grove Fire Department building on Main Street and converted it to office space and a parks maintenance facility.
At the end of 2006, Sugar Grove Park District entered an Intergovernmental Boundary Agreement with Fox Valley Park District. The landmark agreement traded future tax income for in-district rates for Sugar Grove residents at Fox Valley programs.
On October 3, 2015, the Sugar Grove Park District celebrated the grand opening of Harter Community Park. The park was developed on land owned by Kaneland Community School District #302 at their Harter Middle School site using a matching $400,000 Department of Natural Resource grant. It features three ball diamonds, a multipurpose court, a shelter, a playground, baggo courts, pathways and enhanced natural areas.
Currently, Sugar Grove Park District continues to operate with one of the lowest tax rates of all full service park districts in Kane County even though it serves a population of more than 19,000 people. The district has an annual budget of $1.2 million, maintains 115 acres of parks and open space, and offers 100s of programs annually. Our 20 parks contain baseball fields, soccer fields, playgrounds, basketball courts, shelters, and other amenities.