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Parks Department seeking input for master plan

 

A roadmap is essential to know where you’re going and how to get there. Without one, you can drive in circles and get nowhere.

The LaGrange County Parks Department is seeking to create a map of where it wants to go in the next five years. The department’s master plan is being created this year, and will be used to guide the department over the next five years.

The plan is being created by Randell Ernstberger Associates, with a survey being conducted by Strategic Pew Group.

The department has sent out the survey with the current parks newsletter, 13 Lines, as well as an online survey that can be completed. The online survey can be found on the parks dept. website at www.lagrangecountyparks.org.

The survey only takes a few minutes and asks the public’s opinion on the county parks and recreation facilities and programs. There are also questions on participation, accessibility and funding. All results are anonymous and all information is confidential.

“We’d like to know more about how people use the parks and what changes they’d like to see in the future,” said Mike Metz from the parks department.

Metzalso announced that a public meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 23, at Maple Wood Nature Center. The meeting, which is open to everyone, will be to gather additional public input. “You can comment on the parks and programs. What you like, don’t like or want to see,” Metz said. The department is looking at public opinion on how parks facilities and programs should be funded. The public meeting will be more interactive, Metz added, with discussion held to get as much input as possible from the public from every angle.

“It’s important to do this to develop the parks that the public wants,” Metz added.

The end result of the survey and the public meeting will be a five-year master plan to guide the department as it moves ahead. The plan is also important as the parks continue to seek grant funding for projects. “We’re required by the DNR to have a plan to apply for grants,” Metz noted.

The plan is being developed for the first time by an outside group, which Metz feels will be very beneficial to the parks. “They bring a fresh set of eyes to the plan,” he stated. “They’ve also seen other park systems and how they work. And they can see our department without any bias.”

The current master plan has been very useful during its time as the department has managed to check off a number of items on that plan.

Priorities identified in the last master plan that have been accomplished since then include new pavilions and restrooms at Delt Church Park, purchasing additional acreage at Pine Knob Park, and a water well at David Rogers Park. Other projects, such as trail improvements at Delt Church Park and land acquisition at Dallas Lake Park, have been started. Only a few projects from the last master plan, such as a new restroom at David Rogers Park, have yet to be started.

“We’ve been pretty successful,” Metz said of the items on the previous plan. “And a lot of those projects have been funded through grants.”

With a new five-year master plan being readied, the LaGrange County Parks Department is looking to keep that streak of continual improvement going for what is already a great asset in the county. And it can be more successful with input from the entire community.