City Parks and Rec Department to host public meeting for master plan

The Williamsburg Parks and Recreation Department will hold a public meeting Monday as it continues to assess community needs and prepares to release its first-ever master plan.

The master plan will provide a road map for the city’s parks and recreational development goals over the next 20 years. Last year, the city hired GreenPlay LLC, a Colorado-based consulting firm, to study the area’s needs and lead the plan’s development.

“The Parks and Recreation Master Plan is intended to ensure an appropriate balance of facilities and amenities which best reflect the community’s desires and needs,” said Robbi Hutton, the city’s director of parks and recreation. “That’s why we really need citizens to be involved.”

The city owns and maintains 10 parks, where residents enjoy amenities including playground equipment, sand volleyball, tennis courts, picnic pavilions and baseball, softball and basketball fields.

At Monday’s meeting, GreenPlay representatives are expected discuss the findings of community surveys and focus groups, both meant to gather a sense of what city residents would like to see out of their public parks.

The upcoming meeting will be the last step in the consulting firm’s information gathering phase, where it surveys and assesses the community’s needs.

“We believe that public engagement is the keystone for any master plan, because if the community is not engaged in it, then they are not going to support it,” said Art Thatcher, GreenPlay LLC project consultant, in a presentation to City Council earlier this year.

As part of their research, representatives from GreenPlay and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department held a public open forum in January, where residents were invited to share their feedback on the city’s recreational efforts. Well-maintained facilities and a good variety of programs and services were among the strengths identified at that meeting.

Areas for improvement included limited parking, outdated infrastructure and a lack of a willingness for change.

Last February, 3,500 randomly selected city households also received a survey where they were asked about the types of programs, facilities and services they most wanted to see in Williamsburg’s public parks. Survey participants also were given the opportunity to provide their opinion on where the Parks and Recreation Department’s long-term priorities should be placed.

Thatcher also identified an increase to sports tourism efforts as one of the major goals expected to be featured in the master plan.

Want to go?

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department will host a master plan public meeting at 6 p.m. May 21 in the Williamsburg Community Building, located at at 401 N. Boundary St. Community members are encouraged to attend.

Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.

Copyright © 2019, The Virginia Gazette