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Our Mission

Part of the Plainfield Park District’s mission includes the stewardship of natural resources, as the agency seeks to preserve open space for public use and develop parks that are respectful of their place in nature.

The District is also committed to developing and maintaining green and sustainable approaches in its ongoing mission to provide quality recreation opportunities for residents.

In recent years, the Park District has implemented an online job application system to eliminate paper forms, created a procurement policy which addresses the purchase of environmentally friendly products and services, and implemented an online system for Park Board Commissioners to view their meeting packets. The Park District also employs three staffers who are certified arborists.

On this page, you can explore some of the many ways that the Plainfield Park District helps create a green, sustainable environment within the communities we serve.

The District will strive to wisely use and protect earth’s limited natural resources; to dispose of all refuse in an environmentally friendly manner; to use environmentally friendly supplies and materials when practical and feasible, including herbicides and pesticides; to follow the law with regard to the mandatory recycling of specified materials; and to support the voluntary recycling of plastic, cans, glass, fiber, and paper products in District facilities.

Statement Of Philosophy

The community and the District are increasingly aware of the environmental issues that affect the quality of life. It is the intent of the District to assume a community leadership role in the development and use of sound environmental policies, practices, and educational opportunities.

Green Purchasing Procedures

Purchase products for facility and park operations which reduce negative environmental impacts taking into consideration the effects of product production, use, safety, storage, disposal and cost.

  • Purchase products, whenever feasible, that are made of recycled material
  • Research green alternatives when making purchases
  • Purchase products that are manufactured locally whenever possible
  • Reduce environmental damages associated with purchases by increasing the purchases of environmentally preferable products and services whenever feasible that is consistent with cost, performance, availability and safety considerations
  • Purchase, whenever feasible, products with a third party certification indicating their environmental status such as Green Seal or Energy Star whenever possible
  • Promote the purchase of sustainable products by allowing an additional 15% to be spent on items under $10,000, and an additional 10% on items $10,000 to $15,000. Purchases will adhere with the Purchasing Policy located in Section 2.18 of the Administrative Policy Manual.
  • Each procurement action will be fully documented and consistent with the District’s Purchasing Policy located in Section 2.18 of the Administrative Policy Manual and purchasing procedures. Any variance must have approval by the Park
  • Examples of environmentally sustainable products include:
    • Products that contain the highest possible percentage of post-consumer content products that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or are made with renewable energy
    • Products that serve several functions (e.g. copiers/printer, multipurpose cleaners) and reduce the overall number of products purchased
    • Products that reduce waste
    • Products that reduce the use of toxins hazardous to the environment and employee and public health
    • Products that reduce air and water pollution
    • Products from suppliers who strive to improve environmental performance, provide environmentally preferable products and who can document the supply chain impacts of their efforts
    • Reusable products

Protection of Air, Water, Soil and Wildlife

Actively seek to implement ways to conserve and protect water and soil, enhance air quality, limit the production and release of pollutants, and protect wildlife.

  • Use standardized and uniform procedures for the application and safe handling of pesticides, when pesticide use is necessary
  • Abide by the federal and state Endangered Species Protection Acts in order to avoid adverse impacts on endangered or threatened species during District operations
  • Protect and preserve threatened wildlife species.

Administration: The District will comply with the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and the Illinois Department of Agriculture regulating governing the use of pesticides. Compliance includes state certification of all employees involved with the implementation of this program.
Education: Staff will participate in training sessions sponsored by affiliated professional part organizations designed to improve the supervision, safe handling, and application of pesticides.

Characteristics: Pesticides used by the District in the form of herbicides, insecticides or fungicides will be of the General Use classification.

Notification: Pesticide application notices will be posted 24 hours prior to the treatment and will remain up until 24 hours after completion of treatment.

Application: General use pesticides used by the District and registered with the Federal EPA will always be used according to specific label direction and procedures to ensure safe and effective application, storage and disposal.

Calibration: Calibration of equipment and application rates will be according to manufacturer’s recommendations so that minimal amounts of pesticide are applied.

Energy Resource Usage Guidelines

Actively seek to implement ways to conserve energy resources and investigate methods to apply alternative energy technologies.

  • Use programmable thermostats to save energy and money
  • Use energy efficient resources
  • Install, where feasible, energy efficient light bulbs and lighting with motion sensors
  • Install, where feasible, faucets that use motion to run water
  • Install, where feasible, toilets that use less water
  • Research and evaluate alternative energy sources such a solar and wind power where feasible

Recycling and Waste Reduction and Handling

The District is committed to reducing solid waste by utilizing renewable or reusable resources as well as minimizing its dependence on non-renewable resources.

  • Recycle trees as wood chips and firewood when appropriate
  • Compost all leaves, grass, and other landscape materials whenever feasible
  • Maximize used oil collection
  • Use recycled products, such as Durawood, biodegradable bags, recycled paper, whenever feasible
  • Phase out products that are environmentally damaging
  • Recycle tires, batteries, antifreeze and Freon
  • Recycle fluorescent, mercury vapor, high pressure sodium, and metal halide lamps
  • Comply with all other applicable federal, state and local regulations and laws
  • Recycle plastic, cans, glass, metal, fiber and paper products at facilities and parks where feasible

Open and Natural Space Planning and Preservation

Actively seek to protect and restore indigenous natural communities such as prairies, woodlands and wetlands, and promote reclamation, acquisition, preservation and management of other open spaces.

  • Develop relations and agreements with public and private organizations and individuals in order to have open space and natural habitats preserved and/or managed
  • Plan and construct new and renovated open space areas and facilities using the latest information available so as to not negatively impact the The District will strive to conserve soil, water and energy resources and protect indoor and outdoor air quality.
  • Recognize the importance of both safe and attractive parks and open space
  • Establish a balanced Integrated Pest Management Program that includes:
    • Selecting appropriate plant and species and their proper location
    • Using preventative maintenance procedures
    • Promoting early detection of problems
    • Utilizing natural control methods where possible
    • Testing for better application methods
    • Minimizing pesticide use
    • Transition landscaping at park sign beds to include native plantings or low water need or low maintenance plantings

Environmental Education and Interpretation

  • Actively seek to be a role model within the community by promoting public awareness and educational programs that encourage environmentally sustainable
  • Implement youth-oriented outdoor education programs
  • Host community-wide special events to promote environmental awareness
  • Build an environmental curriculum to integrate into pre-school and camp programming
  • Highlight environmental improvements within the District on website and print media creating public awareness

Measurement System for Energy Usage and Recycling Efforts

  • Maintain a database on the company file to record and monitor all energy usage in District
  • Work with local recycling provider to develop a recycling measurement system
  • Utilize the IPRA Environmental Report Card to monitor District improvements in key areas of sustainability
  • Maintain an up-to-date inventory of green efforts

Plainfield PARC building

In 2019, the District was the first park district in the State of Illinois to open a Net Zero recreation facility, the Prairie Activity & Recreation Center (PARC).

About 18,000 square feet of PARC’s roof includes solar panels capable of generating 213kw of electricity that can be banked to offset its energy usage.

The building also incorporates the latest energy-efficient construction materials which include triple glazed windows and energy efficient, heat-retaining walls.

During its first year of operation PARC won numerous accolades for its forward-thinking design including:

A 2019 “Best Green Practices” award at the IAPD Best of the Best Gala
Passive House Certification from Chicago-based Passive House Institute U.S., making it the first public recreation center in the State of Illinois and the U.S. to receive the designation
A Technology Award from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers
$600,000 in grant dollars from the Illinois Clean Energy Foundation for PARC

Diagram #1 of how the PARC solar system worksDiagram #2 of how the PARC solar system works



Plainfield Park District rain garden

A rain garden is a collection of native plants planted in an area which is generally formed on a natural slope to direct water toward it.

Rain gardens are designed to temporarily hold and soak in RAIN water runoff that flows from roofs, driveways, patios, and lawns during rain events.

To help manage run off, the Plainfield Park District maintains 2 rain gardens, one at Village Green Park, and the other in front of the Prairie Activity & Recreation Center (PARC).

Photo: The rain garden at Village Green Park catches natural runoff as well as water from the park’s nearby splash pad.

Many of the properties owned by the Plainfield Park District contain sections that are naturalized areas inlcuding wetlands, woodlands, or naturalized prairies.

A natural area is defined by the National Park Service as: “an area that visually exhibits primarily nonhuman created qualities, such as an urban forest or wetland.”

Field on fire during a prescribed burn

The District manages it natural and woodland areas through a number of means including prescribed burns which help to control unwanted woody plant material and perennial weeds while stimulating native plant growth.

The district prescribes burns in conjunction with mowing and herbicide applications to assist these sensitive areas in their development.

Manicured Parks & Playgrounds

  • Prune/trim trees and shrubs as dictated by species annually
  • Apply fertilizer to plant species only if plant health dictates
  • Remove sucker growth as needed
  • Inspect regularly for insects and diseases. Respond to outbreaks within 48 hours
  • Place 2” of organic mulch around each tree within a minimum 18” ring
  • Place 2” of organic mulch around shrub beds to minimize weed growth
  • Remove hazardous limbs and plants immediately upon discovery
  • Remove dead trees and plant material within 30 days of discovery
  • Stump grinding to occur within 1 year of removal in turf areas
  • Replanting as needed.  Species selection shall be varied depending on existing population of park.
  • Due to the large volume of Ash trees within the District, dead trees that do not pose a danger to patrons or property may be removed by quadrants every four years

Woodland & Natural Areas

  • Prune/trim trees and shrubs as dictated by species quarterly
  • Remove sucker growth as needed
  • Remove hazardous limbs and plants immediately upon discovery
  • Dead trees in heavily wooded areas may not be removed.
  • Due to the large volume of Ash trees within the District, dead trees that do not pose a danger to patrons or property may be removed by quadrants every four years

The District owns and maintains approximately 75 acres of woodland, including Mather and Canterbury Woods.  Maintenance of the woodlands includes the removal of invasive species such as; buckthorn, honeysuckle, multi flora rose and garlic mustard.  As well and clearing pathways for recreational use and the introduction of desirable species.

  • In the fall, after leaf drop, burn the woodland. If the woodland is open enough for grass to grow it may be possible to burn in the spring.
  • Introduce desirable species of plants immediately after burn.
  • Mechanical removal of undesirable trees and shrubs that do not respond to fire is required.
  • After mechanical removal treat remaining stumps/stems with a
  • Herbicide in order to kill the roots and prevent re-growth.
  • Monitor the area, evaluate, and document results.
  • Annual inspections for trash removal in spring.  Visual trash is removed through the year.

The District owns and maintains approximately 250 Acres or naturalized Prairie. Illinois prairies were once a mix of numerous species of forbs and grasses. Today undesirables such as crown vetch, Bull Thistle, Canadian Thistle, teasel and canary reed grass dominate our landscape.

  • Burn every 2-4 years where warm season or native grasses dominate, a fall burn is preferred.
  • Introduce desirable species of grass immediately after the burn.
  • Unwanted woody plants that survive the burn should be removed mechanically.
  • Treat remaining stumps/stems with a selective herbicide in order to kill roots and prevent re-growth.
  • Use appropriate herbicides to kill herbaceous plants that do not respond to fire.
  • Monitor the area, evaluate, and document results.
  • Annual inspections for trash removal in spring. Visual trash is removed through the year.

The District maintains a naturalized buffer around our storm water management ponds. The deep roots of these native plants help stabilize shorelines and reduce fertilizer runoff from entering the pond, this in turn reduces slit build up and algae. Woody plants, reed canary grass and purple loosestrife are the major unwanted plants to be addressed in our wetlands and shorelines.

Maintenance includes the following:

  • Burn the wetland every 2-4 years preferably in the fall or spring prior to green up.
  • Introduce desirable species of plants immediately after burn.
  • Unwanted woody plants that survive the prescribed burn should be removed by cutting.
  • Treat remaining stumps/stems with a selective herbicide in order to kill roots and prevent re-growth.
  • Where practical, purple loosestrife should be killed in place with an aquatic use approved non-selective herbicide.
  • The area should be monitored, evaluated and have results documented.
  • Annual inspections for trash removal in spring.  Visual trash is removed through the year.

Integrated Pest Management shall be used to prevent and control pest problems in or on property maintained by the District. Nonchemical controls shall be given preference over chemical controls. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a system of controlling nuisance wildlife that uses a combination of methods to maximize the effectiveness of control, while minimizing pesticide application and the potential hazards associated with their use. IPM focuses on maintaining healthy plants and soil, thus enabling the District to more effectively control pest problems.

Structural Controls

The use of a whole systems approach to controlling pest populations, which may include addressing structural issues in both building and landscapes. Examples of structural controls include adopting long-term maintenance practices such as caulking and sealing, repairing the building or landscape to remove places where pests may breed, such as removing indentations in the earth that cause puddles where mosquitoes may breed.

Biological Controls

The use of a pest’s natural predators or parasites to eliminate or reduce the pest problem.

Mechanical Controls

The use of mechanical procedures to eliminate or reduce pest populations, such as mowing, hand pulling, topdressing and aeration of lawns.

Physical Controls

The use of controls that physically inhibit pests’ ability to inhabit an area by modifying their environment. Examples of physical controls include using traps and barriers, influencing temperatures, controlled burning or hand-pulling of weeds.

Water bottle being refilled at a refill station

Sometimes its the small changes that we make in our daily lives that can have big impacts and positive benefits for our environment.

That’s why the Park District, over the years, has found new ways to lessen our environmental impact in our day to day operations.

Those changes include:

  • Adding water bottle refilling stations at PARC to encourage our members to bring a reusable bottle to stay hydrated during their workouts.
  • Installing programmable thermostats to cut down on energy consumption.
  • Installing motion sensor light switches which save energy when a room is unoccupied.
  • Installing energy-saving LED lights.
  • Implementing printer cartridge and scrap metal recycling to keep reusable materials out of landfills.

For more ideas on how to lessen your environmental impact in your daily life, you can visit the Will County Green website.

Plainfield Park District

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