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Ormond Beach Observer Wednesday, Apr. 7, 2021 1 week ago

Public input process begins for Ormond Beach's parks and recreation master plan update

Creating Ormond's parks and recreation roadmap for the next decade.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

What should Ormond Beach's parks system look like in 10 years?

That's the question the city hopes to have an answer for after creating a new parks and recreation master plan. The public input process started on Wednesday, March 31, attended by about 60 people, who took part either in-person or remotely. The current parks and recreation master plan is 15 years old, and Leisure Services Director Robert Carolin said the city has accomplished about 98% of all the projects outlined in the plan. 

From 2006-2020, the city completed over $22 million of leisure services improvements, according to data presented at the meeting. The largest amounts of dollars — $7.3 million — went toward the Ormond Beach Sports Complex. Nova Community Park and Andy Romano Beachfront Park are tied for second, with $3.1 million. The facility with the third largest amount of financial investment was Cassen Park, with $2.6 million of improvements.

Carolin said it's important to ensure the city is meeting the desires of the community and headed in the right direction. The master plan is also a way to establish priorities and go after funding sources. 

"So if the community is shown to be very interested in specific amenities that are not currently being met, or would like to see more of those amenities that are being met, based on the survey results, then we’ll be able to chart out that course to make sure we’re going in the right direction," Carolin said.

What the residents want

Participants at the first public meeting for the parks and recreation master plan update were asked to name the three parks they visited the most. Central Park was the most popular. Courtesy of the city of Ormond Beach

In 2020, the Ormond Beach City Commission unanimously approved a $125,000 bid to Barth Associates to conduct the master plan update process.

The public meeting, and the joint meeting between the Quality of Life and Leisure Services advisory boards on Thursday, April 1, were led by Barth Associates Planner Carlos Perez. He told the advisory board members that they were impressed by the improvements made within the city's Leisure Services department since 2006.

“Some really great investments," Perez said. "Some really beautiful results that came out from those $22 million.”

The public and board members were invited to take part in a survey during their meetings, and 45% of the public reported being satisfied with the facilities currently provided by the city. A total of 31% said they were very satisfied, 11% reported neutral feelings, 3% said they were dissatisfied, 5% very dissatisfied and 4% reported they didn't know how they felt. 

Nature trails, like this one inside Central Park, were among the top facilities wanted by residents, based on the first public meeting for the parks and recreation master plan update. Photo by Jarleene Almenas

Some of the facility types that were ranked as most important, and ones the city is not adequately providing, include paved multi-purpose trails, walking and hiking nature trails, natural areas and parks, picnic areas, and rentals for private events — all of which received over 40% of votes (the public was allowed to pick more than one facility during the survey). 

For programs, 44% of the public who attended the meeting said they were satisfied with the programs the city offers, with 23% reporting a neutral stance, 17% very satisfied, 4% dissatisfied, 6% very dissatisfied and 5% saying they didn't know how they felt. The programs the public ranked as most important, and not adequately provided for, include community events, special events, and theater or performing arts programs. All of these programs received at least 37% of votes. 

More trails?

When the advisory boards participated in the same survey, Carolin said he was intrigued to see both data sets reported close results. For example, paved multi-purpose trails received 41% of votes during the public meeting, and 35% of the advisory board members also voted for it. 

That's not unexpected, as Carolin said there has been an uptick in the popularity of trails for the past several years, and more people have utilized them since the beginning of the pandemic.

"We did expect that to probably rank higher than some of the rest just because it’s all-inclusive," Carolin said. "It’s not specific to individuals. It’s an amenity that’s pretty much open for anybody to use at any time.”

What comes next

Barth Associates will mail out random surveys to residents in the city to further conduct a survey for statistical purposes. In addition, beginning April 15, interested citizens may complete the survey online via the city's website. 

The findings from these surveys will be presented to the City Commission in July. After that, Barth and Associates will host its second public meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 6, in the South Ormond Neighborhood Center, located at 176 Division Ave.



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