By Cameron Rasmusson
Those who want to weigh in on the development of the city’s parks and recreation master plan have their chance today.
The city is hosting a public meeting 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 2, at The Hive in downtown Sandpoint to collect public opinion on priorities for the plan that will shape public parks for the next 10 to 20 years. According to Sandpoint City Administrator Jennifer Stapleton, the city secured The Hive for the meeting due to an expected large turnout.
The city has contracted the company GreenPlay to guide the parks planning process. The specialists have already put together large focus groups and are visiting Sandpoint to collect feedback on the parks system. After they leave, they will put together a series of surveys that will eventually be open for participation by all Sandpoint residents.
“We’re also coordinating with our neighboring jurisdictions and involving them as stakeholders with inputs,” Stapleton told Sandpoint City Council members Wednesday. “Mayor (Steve Geiger) was over this morning from Ponderay, and we’ve reached out to the mayor in Kootenai, reached out to Bonner County (and) Mayor (Annie Shaha) of Dover is coming over tomorrow. We’re out touring facilities looking at what currently exists, what potentially may exist down the road. We’re going to be looking at Dover Park, and we’re going to be looking at Field of Dreams in Ponderay.”
According to city documents, the plan will ensure that all park projects and operations proceed in a consistent, orderly way. It will guide decisions regarding property acquisition, development and the administration of all existing facilities.
The planning process will unfold over four phases. The first covers an initial review of all existing parks resources and contextualize it within the community’s existing realities. The next phase analyzes broad-based needs, taking a bird’s eye view of the parks system as a whole. Phase three zooms in on specific park projects and facilities like City Beach, Memorial Field and the watershed. All these steps lead to the final phase: the development of a comprehensive master plan.
At this point in plan development, collecting public opinion is vital. It will go on to influence decision-making on key parks questions like whether Memorial Field will be outfitted with natural grass or artificial turf.
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