In the two decades since it last adopted a master plan, the DuPage County Forest Preserve District has expanded its land holdings by more than 3,500 acres, closed two landfills, developed more than 55 miles of new multipurpose trails and constructed numerous recreation facilities and support buildings.
Now officials are looking to update the master plan so the document can guide future decisions about improving and maintaining the district's facilities.
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"You have to have an overall vision and a direction for the district as a whole," planning director Andrea Hoyt said. "It (a master plan) helps to make logical, measurable decisions and (provide) directions for the district."
Comprehensively updating the master plan is a process that's expected to take more than a year, officials said.
The first step includes identifying forest preserve users and getting feedback from them and other county residents about what they would like to see at the facilities.
On Tuesday, staff recommended the district hire a consultant to help with the information gathering. If the board agrees with that suggestion, a consultant would do various tasks, including conducting surveys and assisting with focus group meetings.
The goal is to get "public perceptions about the needs, preferences and priorities" for the district, officials said.
"The community changes," Hoyt said. "As an agency, you want to react to what the public wants."
The last time the district adopted a master plan was in 1992.
Hoyt said updating the document would help ensure the district doesn't duplicate efforts by other agencies. The district also runs the risk of "being more reactionary than visionary" without a plan, she said.
While there already are plans for individual forest preserves, the master plan takes a larger view.
"Instead of looking at what you are doing in one preserve, you may want to look at a whole region of the county," Hoyt said.
The new document, for example, could address how the district wants to connect its various multipurpose trails and outline plans for more trails.