Hastings officials will have a clear idea of what its citizens want in parks and recreation when they study the results of a public input session held last week.
John McCann, landscape architect with Viridis Design Group, led the session. He gave a short overview on updating the city's five year Parks & Recreation Master Plan. The 20 to 25 participants at the session divided into groups at a half dozen tables and brainstormed ideas in four areas of interest in parks and recreation in the city.
To question one, how the city could improve its parks and recreation system, the first three items listed were trail connections between parks, camping for bicyclists and campers and an awareness campaign. In the 19 responses, they also asked for more playgrounds, way-finding signs, a sports complex and year-round facilities.
Question two, on what new and innovative park amenities the city should add to parks, the top three ideas were restrooms at all parks, lighting and an “adopt a sign” program by local businesses. Other wants in the list of 21 ideas, included universally accessible playground equipment, food forest/community gardens, keep parks open at night and add lighting, and new playground equipment.
Question three asked what cultural/historical based recreational amenities would interest them. The top three of 13 ideas were interpretative signs to tell the history of parks, campground, a Native American Center as well as additional support for Charlton Park, shuffleboard, climbing wall, cross country skiing and food market.
The last question, asking for three long term goals the city could focus on for parks and recreation drew two dozen responses, with the top four, a sports complex, security, lighting and cameras, smart phone apps and design for sensory needs. Also noted were being the center of a regional trail, enhancing Sweezy’s Pond, collaborations with businesses/special interest groups and a community scout team to visit other parks for ideas.
McCann outlined the process to a final Parks & Recreation Plan; evaluate the facilities, set a timetable for capital improvements, set goals and objectives on grants and develop an action plan and capital spending schedule.
A draft plan will then be developed for the council to review, followed by a 30-day period for citizen’s review and comment with a Feb. 1, 2109 deadline for the final document.
The public input meeting was part of information gathering which includes an on-line survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JKH5FFZ.
Survey respondents so far have identified the top five needs in recreation as fitness programs, winter sports, fitness classes, arts and dance and summer camps. The five most used recreational activities named in the survey are mostly provided by the YMCA. McCann noted that an updated five year master plan is required to apply for federal and state DNR grants.
Photo: (from left) Dave Tossava, Rick Moore and Lee Hays pick the suggetions they feel are most needed for parks and recreation in Hastings.