Portage parks leader sees growth in 2013

2013-02-27T00:00:00Z Portage parks leader sees growth in 2013Joyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | More than 10,000 people participated in recreation and sports programs through the Portage Parks Department last year.

And Superintendent Jenny Orsburn sees nothing but growth in those numbers for this year.

"We made a lot of structural changes internally and we will see the results of that in 2013," Orsburn said.

The department released its annual report this week. According to the report, there were more than 7,300 participants in various programs from nature hikes to the senior health fair. Sports programs from youth soccer and dodgeball to adult softball and dodgeball also attracted in excess of 2,500 participants.

Orsburn said the department "really focused on how to identify efficiencies and improvements and not dramatically effect" resident participation programs. While some programs ended, others saw increases in participation.

Financially, all the park funds ended in the black with revenues exceeding expenditures.

The department looked at each park to determine what was needed, from adding scoreboards to Imagination Glen to moving forward with construction of an elevator in the community building at Woodland Park.

Orsburn said big changes happened at Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk site of the Indiana Dunes by adding staff, opening concessions year around as well as the classroom and providing educational programs throughout the summer.

The department also had to make the tough decision to close the Portage Yacht Club. It was determined it was not cost-effective to make necessary repairs to the building to bring it up to the park's standards as a rental facility. The building likely will be demolished this year.

Orsburn said 2012 was, for a large part, a year for staff to catch up, make necessary changes in policy and procedures, bring facilities up to par and get set to move forward.

For example, policies were changed for registration, which will help move to an online registration system this year, she said.

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