The city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board met in subcommittees for the first time last week.
The board’s members have long talked about splitting into two groups — Parks and Natural Resources; and Recreation and Special Events — in order to get more accomplished. Every other month, the board will meet in subcommittees, and have combined meetings the following month. Any recommendation would have to be approved by the full board before going to City Council.
Ted Miller, the city’s new parks and natural resources director, sat in on both sessions. After members had been introduced and chairs elected, subcommittee goals and topics of discussion were outlined. It was said there may be some overlap between the subcommittees.
The Recreation and Special Events subcommittee went first. There was no representative from the YMCA present, but Parks Superintendent Stacy Davenport said the Veterans Plaza between the YMCA and the National Guard Training Center was ready to be dedicated on Memorial Day.
“These are things that I believe you guys will be weighing in on, and what other events do you guys think would be possible,” Davenport said.
It was noted that the city also has a special events committee, with representatives from the public works, fire and police departments.
One member said the city should get more recognition for providing in-kind services at special events. Among the other comments were signing up for programs at the YMCA can be confusing. Also, Roxanne Amidon of the Northwest Neighborhood Association talked about having a passive park, the Boardman Art Garden, that features public art. She showed the members examples of public art in other local cities.
The Parks and Natural Resources subcommittee met next. Miller said the city would meet with the bike trail consultants and have an updated plan next month. Davenport said the city is looking at facility rental rates and comparing them to other central Ohio cities.
In response to a question, Miller explained that Preservation Parks of Delaware County is a park district throughout the county, but one that he hoped would foster a partnership with the city. Board chair Allyson Lash said she felt some of the city parks were underutilized and did not get enough recognition, while the Preservation Parks had lots of activities. Ideas including hosting cookouts or having summer sessions of classes and activities with guides at the parks.
Miller said there is $62,000 allocated for improvements at Glenross Park, and the city will apply for a NatureWorks grant for a $42,000 landscape buffer. He said that improvements to Valleyside Drive would reduce traffic and improve emergency response times, and although final designs aren’t out yet, the Delaware Run corridor would be preserved as much as possible. Also, he said there will be a draft on a park-naming policy.
Miller said eventually he’d like to have a neighborhood park within a quarter mile/5-minute walk for any resident, and a community park within a half-mile.
“We’ve kind of identified our existing conditions, and identified some of the voids,” he said.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.