Williamsburg boards to address state of the city, parks and recreation master plan

Staff writer

Representatives from Colorado-based consulting firm GreenPlay LLC will present a final draft of a 20-year master plan for the city’s parks and recreation department to Planning Commission at its monthly comprehensive plan meeting Wednesday.

If approved by City Council, the master plan will provide a road map for the city’s parks and recreational development goals during the next 20 years. Last year, the city issued a $79,995 contract to GreenPlay to study the area’s needs and lead development of the city’s first-ever master plan.

Before drafting the document, GreenPlay project consultant Art Thatcher held a number of focus groups, stakeholder meetings and public forums to gather input on the needs of the community when it comes to the 10 parks owned and maintained by the city.

In a similar presentation to City Council earlier this month, Thatcher said the company found more than 60 percent of park users come from James City County, while 18 percent live in the city.

According to two surveys carried out by the consulting firm, the most important values for residents included affordable services, accessibility and bike-friendliness. Many also indicated they would like city parks offer more fitness and wellness programs and community events, while also increasing the number of walking trails and preserving the amount of green space.

Preliminary recommendations expected to be included in the plan include stricter adherence to Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines, additional signage in parks and revised annual park maintenance plans.

Thatcher also suggested adding activity zones to Waller Mill Park, building a fourth softball field at Kiwanis Park and exploring a possible expansion of the indoor, multi-use facility at Quarterpath Park.

“The plan really validates some of the things that we knew and some of the things that we anticipated. So we’ve been working with Art and we’re going to prioritize to see what we can do immediately and then plan from there,” said Parks and Recreation Director Robbi Hutton at the meeting.

After gathering input from Planning Commission, GreenPlay and the city expect to return to City Council with a final master plan in December or January, which will include a list of recommendations and an action plan.

State of the City

On Thursday, Mayor Paul Freiling and City Council will present its biennial State of the City address, where the board is expected to discuss Williamsburg’s current state and its future.

The bulk of the address will be focused on the 2019-2020 Goals, Initiative and Outcomes document, which City Council approved at its regular meeting earlier this month. The document consists of 51 strategic initiatives to be completed by the city before 2021.

Highlights from the plan include a final decision on short-term rental regulations in the city, a renovation or redevelopment plan for the Williamsburg City Library and the formation of a Workforce Housing Work Group similar to the existing Affordable Housing Task Force in James City County.

This will be the seventh State of the City address. Former mayor Jeanne Zeidler started the biennial event in 2006, according to a past Virginia Gazette report.

Want to go?

Planning Commission will meet from 4-6 p.m. Nov. 2. The State of the City address will be delivered at 6 p.m. Nov. 29.

Both events will be in the Stryker Center’s City Council chambers at 412 N. Boundary St.

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

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