City begins Parks and Recreation planning with open house
Prior to the beginning of the Parks and Recreation open house April 20, about 65 residents not affiliated with the City trickled into the chair-filled room.
Parks Director Mike McCarty said that he was hoping for a larger turnout, but said that he'd take it as a compliment since he'd been told that more people usually come out if there's a problem or complaint.
The Parks and Recreation Master Plan is intended to function as a guiding document for the Parks and Recreation department's future parks as well as amenities, programs and facilities. To this end, McCarty gave a brief introduction and invited feedback throughout the meeting before the master plan's consultants, GreenPlay LLC, began the presentation with an introduction of the company. Dating back to 1999, the company has a track record of completing more than 450 parks master plans around the country and abroad.
"This is the beginning of the process," consultant Art Thatcher said. "So the major piece of this is the public engagement."
Having arrived three days before the meeting, the consultant group busied itself holding meetings with community members and stakeholders and touring parks and facilities, getting a feel for Wilsonville. GreenPlay will ultimately be responsible to help create the master plan based on public feedback.
GreenPlay Project Manager Tom Diehl said that of the 42 participants in six different focus groups and 13 stakeholder groups that were interviewed before the meeting, there were many positive features of the department that interviewees said they would like to see maintained, including being friendly, responsive and available for questions and maintenance.
In terms of what was lacking, public waterfront recreation was an item mentioned during multiple interviews as well as the need for additional ball fields and facilities. But due to the variety of attendees, from youth sports organizers to pickleball players to skateboarders, there was a wide range of program and facility requests.
"We're going to use all of the information that we gathered this week to do a needs analysis survey," Thatcher said.
In addition to the interviews already conducted, a four-page survey will be mailed to 3,000 randomly selected residents in June. The same survey will also be offered online. Thatcher said that this method is what they've found is the most thorough in reaching those who use the parks and programs as well as those who don't.
"I would venture to say that almost all of you participate in something with Parks and Recreation," Thatcher said. "But this is a way to reach those non-users and get their input as well while we build this master plan that is a system plan for the next 10 years."
McCarty said after the open house he was pleased with the turnout but but is looking forward to getting more feedback before the GreenPlay consultants come back in late June or early July.
"I'm always a little impatient and I would have rather had 200 people attend," he said. "But I'm hoping that (the surveys) will get us a lot of information and a lot of public information."
The master planning process is anticipated to take 12 months, resulting in a plan that recommends potential changes and enhancements to the Parks and Recreation department for the City Council's consideration early next year. One thing McCarty said will likely continue as a focus will be additional ball fields.
"You always need more fields,' McCarty said. "Whether having a better agreement with the school district to use their fields more, building new ones, or both probably."
To follow the Parks and Recreation Master Plan's progress, go to wilsonvilleparksandrec.com/247/Comprehensive-Master-Plan