Jonathan Prater pulls his two sons, Branch Prater, 3, and Knox Prater, 5, as he kayaks toward the shore Friday, July 5, 2019 at Chester Frost Park in Hixson, Tennessee. Temperatures were in the low to mid 90s Friday, and many people were taking advantage of the cool water.
some text Bill Neal of Chattanooga, Tenn., flyfishes while waist-deep in water at Chester Frost Park in Hixson, Tenn. Neal said he used to flyfish often, but after retiring about 2 years ago, has only recently been able to get back out more frequently to enjoy the hobby. Neal says he fishes for fun and releases the fish he catches.

A community survey that will be used to help create Hamilton County's first comprehensive parks master plan was made public online Tuesday as county leaders look for input to shape the future of area parks.

The survey asks residents about their park usage, facility needs, how park improvements/maintenance should be funded and more. The survey takes 10-15 minutes to complete and has more than 15 questions to gather information about who is using the parks, how they're being used and what needs to be done in the future.

The survey starts and ends with personal information: where residents live, how long they've lived in the county, how many people live in their household, race, household income and other questions. The rest of the questionnaire asks residents about their park experience, how they feel about the current parks and what needs to be done moving forward.

Take the survey

The survey is available online at

The survey has also been mailed to a select group of Hamilton County residents with the help of Colorado-based GreenPlay, LLC, which is overseeing the master plan project. GreenPlay sent surveys to a random sample large enough to generate a statistically valid response across the county, according to Hamilton County Parks and Recreation Director Tom Lamb.

The parks and recreation department officially announced it was creating a master plan in April. It will be the first of its kind for the county. It's an important step to plan for the future of the parks system that includes three regional parks, 16 community parks, athletic leagues and the maintenance of other community spaces, according to Lamb.

The plan will serve as a road map for the future of Hamilton County Parks and Recreation, he said. It will help the county make allocation decisions for the future. Now, leaders hope for a vast expansion to the Tennessee Riverwalk trail network, and improvements at Enterprise South Nature Center are underway. Chester Frost Park also continues to be a popular area for residents and hosts large fishing tournaments and other events.

There have been vast changes to how people use county parks. Mountain biking has continued to grow in popularity as has disc golf, dog parks, open-water swimming and other outdoor recreation opportunities. The plan will help account for those changes as leaders make future decisions.

Contact Mark Pace at or 423-757-6659. Follow him on Twitter @themarkpace and on Facebook at ChattanoogaOutdoorsTFP.

some text Nicole and Nathan Nimeskern play with their 1-year-old son William at Vandergriff Park Friday, March 2, 2018 in Hixson, Tenn. The 1-year-old was most drawn to the stairs and the gravel rocks that covered the ground around one play set in the park, which has several playground sets for all ages.