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Strategic Plan

"Our primary goal at Great Parks of Hamilton County is to improve lives by connecting people to nature. We provide parks and activities to experience nature through education and recreation. We are the pathway to the Great Outdoors in Greater Cincinnati."

Why strategic planning?
A strategic plan serves as a road map to the future. It will bring direction and focus to the park district for the next five years as we pursue our mission, vision, goals, key strategies and actions. It is a concise plan developed by all levels of staff. In recent history Great Parks has completed three strategic planning processes: 1998–2002, 2004–2009 and the current 2011–2016 comprehensive plan.
Objective 1
“To understand our customer base, Great Parks will continually measure the loyalty and satisfaction of supporters, park guests, county residents and visitors to the region. Through increased awareness, Great Parks of Hamilton County will be recognized as the region’s primary resource for conservation, outdoor education and recreation.”

  • Benchmark customer base and public awareness.
  • Develop or strengthen brand equity.
  • Develop and implement comprehensive marketing plan.
  • Restructure planning and coordination of all park projects, programs, events and activities to achieve awareness and organization-based goals.

  • In the fall of 2012, the Objective One team interviewed branding agencies to assist in the process of reaching our markets and increasing park district awareness. Topic Design was selected.
  • Staff received an invitation and submitted their ideas for review concerning a possible name change for the Hamilton County Park District.
  • The team worked with Topic Design to review and analyze UC surveys, Park user surveys as well as market research and other feedback to determine the next steps to build park awareness and reach.
  • By December 2012, after several discussions and debates, the Objective One team presented its recommendation to the Park Board of Commissioners for the next step in building park district awareness.
  • A Survey and Measurement team was formed to continue measurement of park guest loyalty, attitude, and satisfaction. The questions and best practices developed by the team have been integrated in park-wide survey methods and serve as the standard for which all information collection is built and allow for further and more consistent benchmarking throughout the agency.
  • The park district worked with an outside advertising agency to create a new name and look (i.e., a brand) for the park district, which was unveiled to the public in June 2013. Rebranding the park included transitioning from Hamilton County Park District to Great Parks of Hamilton County in both name and communication methods.
  • A Merchandising Team was established to promote the new brand consistently in all park facilities. The team’s main objective is to create marketing and merchandise offerings, so that our guest will recognize each facility as part of the Great Parks family.
  • Development for a comprehensive plan for 2013 is currently in progress. The plan will aid in the support of key existing programming, events and activities as well as determine overall park goals, or priorities.
  • A new health and wellness initiative for 2014, “Healthy Parks, Healthy People,” was developed. The goal of the initiative is to provide and promote educational and recreational opportunities to help people actively strive for a balanced life.

Objective 2
“Great Parks of Hamilton County will be a recognized contributor to the community’s economy and culture and will be an excellent steward of financial resources, stretching the park district’s tax revenue and earned income through increased contributions, partnerships, sponsorships, and volunteer involvement.”

  • Strengthen Foundation.
  • Expand use of volunteers to enhance services and strengthen relationships with the corporate sector.
  • Increase contributions, endowments, partnerships and sponsorships.
  • Expand community outreach to build a broader network of support.

  • The Hamilton County Parks Foundation updated its name to Great Parks Foundation to align with park district rebranding. A new logo was approved in January 2014 as part of the brand development that is currently underway.
  • The Foundation continued to refine its business practices, with the establishment of an annual budget, adoption of an investment policy and selection of an investment firm.
  • The Foundation Board of Directors held a strategic planning retreat in November 2013 to define long-term goals for growth of Board and financial targets, identify Board tasks for the upcoming year and clarify roles of the Commissioners, Foundation Board and staff.
  • The Foundation completed its capital campaign to fund construction of the Simmonds Family Dog Park at Miami Whitewater forest, raising a total of $905,000. A soft opening is set for April 2014 and a grand opening to the public in June 2014.
  • The second annual Foundation golf outing was held at Miami Whitewater Forest in October, 2013, raising almost $8,000 for the Simmonds Family Dog Park.
  • Foundation promotional efforts were successful in 2013, receiving $305,000 in donations from 229 contributors. The Foundation continued to secure funds for its featured programs, including Legacy Trees, Adopt-A-Bench, Scholarships and Corporate Volunteers.
  • The Corporate Volunteer Program continues to provide valuable volunteer service as well as financial support to the Foundation. Corporate groups contributed 1,912 hours of service $16,300 to the park district through the Foundation in 2013. Corporate partner REI granted $10,000 to the Foundation for another community-based stewardship project.
  • Shoppers can continue to support the Foundation through the Kroger Community Rewards program with qualifying purchases.
  • Great Parks supported it programs and services with sponsorships valued at $60,727.

Objective 3
“Great Parks will be recognized as a sustainably-oriented agency by demonstrating a significant reduction in our ecological footprint, as well as serving as a model for how sustainable practices in land use, energy, and waste can enhance livability in the region.”

  • Assemble team to develop, coordinate, implement and evaluate initiatives.
  • Adopt appropriate sustainability model including principles for management of waste, energy, environmental systems, and education/outreach.
  • Create support for sustainability initiatives in the plan.
  • Communicate and Educate program benefits.

  • The Green Team has divided into four subgroups to more specifically focus on sustainability initiatives and to increase involvement by additional key staff. These groups include Education, Energy, Land Use/Environmental Systems and Waste.
  • The Education group is evaluating current and future programming efforts to prioritize the sustainability message and continues to publish regular Gazette articles.
  • The Energy group has developed five key areas of focus – fuel consumption reduction, idling reduction, water consumption reduction, benchmarking and lighting.
  • The Land Use group was successful in securing a $40,000 Ohio EPA grant for storm water improvements at the Winton Centre parking lots. This spring 2013 project includes installation of permeable pavers, rain gardens, and a bio-filtration swale. The project will make Kestrel Pond and Winton Lake a cleaner place for wildlife and recreation.
  • The Waste group is working on expanding recycling efforts through increased awareness, waste audits and acquiring additional recycling containers.
  • The green effort is beginning to pick up momentum thanks to the ingenuity of individual employees and volunteers. Each is coming up with their own initiatives such as the installation of high efficiency bulbs, reuse of grocery bags to collect pet waste and being mindful of fuel consumption. Bigger things are expected, but even more impressive will be the cumulative effect of all the smaller yet important accomplishments.
  • The Education group is evaluating current and future programming efforts to prioritize the sustainability message and continues to publish regular Gazette articles.
  • The Energy group has developed five key areas of focus – fuel consumption reduction, idling reduction, water consumption reduction, benchmarking and lighting. In 2013, Facility Management completed five HVAC projects using high efficiency, Energy Star rated systems including ductless mini split systems at Miami Whitewater Forest Visitor Center and Winton Centre and targeted the replacement of non-functioning and older light fixtures with new, high efficiency LED fixtures. In 2014, staff initiated a switch to B-20 biodiesel for appropriate vehicles and equipment.
  • The Land Use group utilized a $40,000 Ohio EPA grant for storm water improvements at the Winton Centre parking lots. This project included installation of rain gardens and a bio-filtration swale to make Kestrel Pond and Winton Lake a cleaner place for wildlife and recreation. Phase 2 improvements include the installation of permeable pavers in 2014. The group also led multiple reforestation volunteer events, and as a result, Great Parks planted more than 20,000 in the first year of this initiative. Great Parks also committed to planting 60,000 trees over the next three years as part of the great regional Taking Root effort.
  • The Waste group conducted the first ever waste audit at Winton Centre in 2013 to benchmark current waste and identify opportunities for increased recycling and composting. The group continues to work on expanding recycling efforts through increased awareness, more waste audits and acquiring additional recycling containers. In order to increase the amount of recycled material use, Recreation staff began an initiative to utilize recycled content in materials such as plates and cups utilized in snack bars and banquet centers