The Rockford Park District and its Executive Director Tim Dimke were recognized at the Annual Illinois Park and Recreation Association/Illinois Association of Park Districts State Conference Awards Luncheon in Chicago.
Yearly park and recreation colleagues and legislators from across the state gather to recognize various achievements in the industry. Rockford Park District Executive Director Tim Dimke received two awards: IPRA Robert Artz Lifetime Achievement Award and IAPD Honored Professional Award. “I was surprised but very honored to accept these awards on behalf of the Rockford Park District Board of Commissioners and our team of staff who are dedicated to helping people enjoy life, all the community partners we collaborate with throughout the year, and for our entire community that is transforming daily and well on its way to being a Top 25 community by 2025.” Rockford Park District also received IPRA Outstanding Facility & Park Award for Mercyhealth Sportscore Two Outdoor Expansion project at 8800 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park.
Robert Artz Lifetime Achievement Award
The IPRA Lifetime Achievement Award was established to honor Robert Artz’s legacy of service to the park and recreation profession. The recipient’s efforts will have had lasting impact and created awareness of the importance of parks and recreation among his/her peers and in the community he/she serves.
Honored Professional Award
The IAPD Honored Professional Award is presented to a park, recreation, forest preserve or conservation professional who has worked closely with citizens and the Illinois Association of Park Districts to improve the quality of life for all people in Illinois.
In 1973, Tim Dimke began his career at the Rockford Park District by providing animal care at the Children’s Farm and Trailside Centre, located at the 146-acre Lockwood Park. After graduating college with a Bachelor of Science degree in Parks and Recreation Management, he became the manager of Support Services. His work ethic, desire to help neighbors, and teamwork led to him being promoted several times before he was finally selected in 2006 by the Board of Commissioners as the seventh executive director since the District’s inception in 1909. Tim is credited with the development of many recreation facilities in Rockford and Loves Park, notably Carlson Ice Arena, Aldeen Golf Club, Mercyhealth Sportscore Two, and the acquisitions of Magic Waters Waterpark and Indoor Sports Center. Most recently, he was directly involved in Reclaiming First, a community-wide comprehensive plan to enhance and enlarge the sports facilities in the Rockford area and to reclaim the region’s dominance in sports tourism. “Tim worked diligently to receive an unprecedented level of intergovernmental regional collaboration and community coordination, and is credited for turning this initiative into a tangible project, which has been recognized multiple times,” said Rockford Park District Board of Commissioners President Ian Linnabary. In addition, Tim was appointed in 2010 to serve on the non-partisan Mississippi River Coordinating Council, and in 2012, he received the Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award from Eastern Illinois University.
Additional Recognition Received: Outstanding Facility & Park Award
The IPRA Outstanding Facility & Park Award recognizes public agencies for their exceptional and unique achievements in design and development. The Outstanding Facility & Park Award recognized the Mercyhealth Sportscore Two Outdoor Expansion project. The Rockford Park District scored the highest total points among all entries in this division and category from across the state.
In June 2016, the Rockford Park District, along with several key partners, celebrated the completion of five new multi-purpose outdoor synthetic turf fields at Mercyhealth Sportscore Two, as well as a new pavilion area complete with concession and restroom building, along with ADA accessible walking paths. The added synthetic turf fields and new building sit on approximately 25 acres. The five new outdoor synthetic turf fields are lighted, and can be used for soccer, softball/baseball, football, rugby, lacrosse, Ultimate Frisbee®, and other turf related programs. The entire project is ADA compliant. The support building is approximately 5,000 square feet, and includes a concession area, restrooms, offices, and storage. The Rockford Park District also acquired a portion of an underutilized parking lot at the adjacent baseball stadium to add an additional 700 parking spaces.
In all, Mercyhealth Sportscore Two sits on 180 acres of land, and the campus includes Wedgbury Stadium, Indoor Sports Center, 26 soccer fields, 5 new lighted outdoor turf fields, 3 sand volleyball courts, and much more. For the last three years, the Rockford Park District, along with nine other governmental agencies, has been working on an initiative called Reclaiming First, a community-wide comprehensive plan to retain, regain, and grow sports tourism.
About Illinois Association of Park Districts
IAPD was established in 1928, and is the oldest state association for parks, recreation, and conservation in America. The association serves more than 2,100 elected park, recreation, and forest preserve district board members who govern more than 390 agencies employing 40,000 individuals. IAPD strives to improve Illinois’ quality of life through park districts, forest preserves, and conservation and recreation agencies by establishing grants and other new revenue streams for park land, facilities, and services; educating the public about the positive effects parks and recreation have on communities, and meeting the problem of decreasing open space in Illinois.
About Illinois Park and Recreation Association
Established in 1944, the Illinois Park and Recreation Association’s mission is to provide and promote exceptional standards of education, networking, and resources for all professionals in the Illinois park, recreation, and conservation communities.