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The Data Behind the Memories: How Parks and Recreation Projects Come to Life

October 20, 2021

While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about many challenges and a sense of uncertainty, it has also shown that building healthy and dynamic communities is more important than ever. In July, McGill’s Courtney Hayden, sat down with Greg Stopka, Strategy and Innovation Manager for the Park District of Oak Park, Illinois to talk about what goes into creating opportunities for communities to thrive — despite current adversity.

Thermal belt rail trailBehind the walks in the park with family, riding bikes through the city with friends, and workouts at your local recreation center, there is data analysis and months of strategic planning that went into making sure you have access to and can enjoy those activities.

Greg spoke to the importance of the behind-the-scenes data dashboard managing, interpreting the needs and wants of the community through survey analyses, cross-functional collaboration, dynamic discussions on idea sharing platforms, and how those things play a role in bringing the Park District’s plans to fruition. But even more important than the internal processes listed above, Greg and his team have found utilizing social media to tell stories and interact directly with community members to be the most beneficial factor in planning out their long-term goals.

Sharing Successes at NCRPA Conference and VRPS Conference

Here at McGill, we are always looking for ways to build stronger and more resilient communities through parks and recreation projects. We are excited to participate in two upcoming conferences where we will not only have the opportunity to share our success stories but also learn from some of the experts in the parks and recreation field. McGill’s land planning and recreation team will be in attendance at the Virginia Recreation and Park Society 2021 Annual Conference in Harrisburg from October 24th through October 26th, as well as the North Carolina Recreation and Parks Conference in Winston Salem from October 25th through October 27th.

To listen to the full interview with Greg Stopka on our McGill Minute Podcast – Episode 9, click the link below:

How Parks and Recreation Builds Stronger, More Resilient Communities (

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