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Raleigh officials want to know what residents want from their parks system in the next several decades.
While park planning in the past has been based on national guidelines how many tennis courts are needed per 1,000 residents, for example Raleigh wants to cater this plan to residents interests.
What we talk a lot about is what are the programs and experiences you want, said parks planner Stephen Bentley.
Have your say
The Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department will hold two more meetings this week on its long-range system plan. Both meetings run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Wednesday: Carolina Pines Community Center, 2305 Lake Wheeler Road
Thursday: Lake Lynn Community Center, 7921 Ray Road
Raleigh residents can also weigh in on the plan’s website, yourparksyourfuture.com.
Parks by the numbers
The Parks and Recreation System Plan aims to create a road map for growth as well as improvements to the city’s existing offerings, which include:
44 community centers
8 swimming pools
2,150 annual programs
75 miles of greenways
9,500 acres of parks and open spaces
This week, the parks department will wrap up a series of four community meetings to solicit feedback. After the meetings, a random sampling of 3,000 residents will get a survey in the mail.
The survey inquires about favorite hobbies and sports, as well as the importance of a neighborhood park and what one considers walking distance. The survey also gives residents a hypothetical $100 to divide between different park budget priorities.
The questionnaire is also available at the meetings and online for anyone whos interested, but those responses will be reviewed separately from the scientific survey results.
Throughout the process, Raleigh residents can weigh in on the plans website, yourparksyourfuture.com. The feedback application features a map where visitors can stick virtual pinpoints where they want to see improvements.
One commenter on the site likes Raleighs greenways but wishes the city didnt pave all its trails. I enjoy running the greenways, but I find myself in Umstead (State Park) more than often to avoid having to run on asphalt, wrote the commenter, identified only as DavidT9. More gravel-packed trails and hiking trails would be a great addition to the system!
Offline, a 22-member citizen committee working on the plan has divided up by interest aquatics programs, senior centers and the like and will conduct focus groups on those subjects in the coming months. Its more of a one-to-one conversation, Bentley said.
The 18-month, $360,000 study process began in September when a consultant evaluated about half of Raleighs parks and greenways. The consultants report available now on the plans website lists population growth and demographic trends. It also scores 80 existing parks on a rubric that rates whether each is accessible, clean and environmentally substainable with a variety of activities for visitors.
City Plaza, Millbrook Exchange Park, Pullen Park and Mordecai Park ranked highest. No parks fell into the not meeting expectations category, though Fisher Street Park in Southeast Raleigh and Brookhaven Nature Park off Glenwood Avenue ranked lowest. Among greenways, portions of the Rocky Branch and Walnut Creek trails failed to meet expectations.
The study will wrap up this fall with discussions on how to implement the recommendations. Consultants and city leaders will talk about how to pay for park improvements and growth and how to prioritize projects.
Theres budget limitations and resource limitations, Bentley said. How do you bridge that gap? Is it through additional bonds? Theyll offer strategies for the city to consider.