City of Chattanooga asks for help with parks, recreation centers

City of Chattanooga asks for help with parks, recreation centers

September 4th, 2012 by Cliff Hightower in News

Derrick Choice, 6, throws during a game of dodge ball during a United Way summer program at Westside Recreation Center.

Photo by Jake Daniels/Times Free Press.

HOW TO TAKE THE SURVEY

To take a survey on how you use Chattanooga's parks or recreation centers, go to www.chattanooga.gov/parks-and-recreation or visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/#!/chattanooga.parks.recreation.

Chattanooga wants help on what its parks and recreation centers should look like over the next several years.

So it's asking the public to fill out a survey to help.

"This is a good way to see how the general public uses them," said Brian Smith, spokesman for the city's Department of Parks and Recreation.

The survey is part of a wider look at the city's recreational facilities and greenspaces. Once compiled, all the information will be folded into the 2020 Parks and Recreation Master Plan, city officials said.

The department decided to develop a new master plan because of the age of the old plan -- Recreate 2008, which was developed in the late 1990s and helped guide the department for the last decade.

Councilman Russell Gilbert, chairman of the council's Parks and Recreation Committee, said there are still holes in the prior plan and he wants to correct that for the 2020 edition.

"They didn't do half of it," he said. "There were things not accomplished and to me that's a waste."

Instead, he said, he wants to break the plan's tangible goals into phases the city department can accomplish.

"The goal is to be realistic, not fantasies," Gilbert said.

Smith said the city heads into the plan with no preconceptions and hopes the public's responses in the survey help to develop a list of goals.

Melissa Taylor, director of strategic long-range planning with the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency, said her department is conducting the overall study with a budget of $12,000. The first part is the survey, which can be found on the city's Parks and Recreation Department Web page, its Facebook page and at recreation centers across the city.

The next step will be to do a telephone survey, then analyze all the information, she said, with the study expected to be released to the public early next year.

Taylor said there were cost savings since her department is able to conduct the study rather than using a contractor.

"We were able to do it a whole lot cheaper," she said.

The main goal is to have as many people as possible contribute.

"My objective is everyone that has a park or facility in their district to voice an opinion," Gilbert said.

Contact staff writer Cliff Hightower at chightower@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480. Follow him at twitter.com/cliffhightower or facebook.com/cliff.hightower.