Delaware Parks and Natural Resources Director Ted Miller was present during Monday’s meeting of the Delaware City Council to present a brief overview of his department’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan, which was later approved by council following the presentation.
The goal of the master plan is to strengthen the existing inventory of parkland, pathways, recreation, and amenities found within Delaware, according to documents for the plan.
“As the population continues to increase, it is necessary to examine public recreation supply and demand,” the plan states. “This master plan provides a comprehensive analysis of the extent the parks and recreation system is currently meeting citizen needs while discussing system-wide areas of future need.”
As a result of the planning process, which included data collection, public input, on-the-ground study, assessment of existing conditions, market research, and open dialogue with local leaders and key stakeholders, the plan identifies a list of recommendations necessary to “move the Parks and Natural Resources Department toward a more formalized parks and recreation department.”
The first recommendation listed in the master plan is to focus on and elevate sustainable operations.
“As the Department moves toward being a more complete parks and recreation provider, it is imperative to establish staffing standards, maintenance standards, and a foundational support mechanism,” the plan states. “Therefore, it is recommended to complete the Maintenance Management Plan, align staffing with industry benchmarks, implement a levy renewal campaign, and establish system standards such as athletic field playability and usage.”
The second recommendation of the master plan is to develop new funding mechanisms to support both capital and operational costs. Three funding categories are identified, including dedicated support, earned income opportunities, and overall financial support.
According to the plan, funding tactics to be considered are land leases on park properties, naming rights and sponsorships, maintenance endowment funds, capital improvement fees, dynamic pricing for prime and nonprime-time use, COVID-19 economic relief funds, and friends group or foundation establishment.
Continuing to evolve the park system’s offerings and experiences based on community needs represents the third recommendation of the plan.
Residents indicate the city’s natural resources and history are a large component of its vibrancy. As such, residents desire to see more nature-based and outdoor recreation opportunities. Therefore, it is important to increase access to water recreation within the park system. Additionally, implementing community/special events that continue to physically and socially connect residents is paramount.
The plan expresses the importance of continuing to expand trail system linkages “to help facilitate general outdoor activity and alternate methods of transportation” as a critical component of building a community.
The Parks and Natural Resources Department also feels a branding initiative should occur that aligns with the overall city branding but also incorporates uniqueness. Elements of the branding effort will include a new logo and department title, a standalone department website, standalone social media pages, and registration software technology that also includes point-of-sale options.
To round out the plan’s recommendations, the plan highlights the need to strengthen internal capacity, establish programmatic-related standards and measurements, and leverage business-minded strategies to support operations as key focuses.
For more information on the plan, or to view its full contents, visit www.delawareohio.net/government/departments/parks-recreation.