PIQUA — To find out what the community at large thinks of the local park system, the city of Piqua hosted a community engagement session in conjunction with consulting group Pros Consulting on Thursday evening.
“This is one of our many stakeholder meetings … for the Comprehensive Parks Master Plan,” City Planner Chris Schmiesing said. Schmiesing explained that the city and Pros Consulting has held a number of other stakeholder meetings with interested parties to contribute to the creation of the Comprehensive Parks Master Plan, but, Schmiesing added, “You guys are really the folks who know the community.”
In August, the Piqua City Commission authorized an agreement with Pros Consulting Inc. to prepare a Comprehensive Parks Master Plan, which will help as a guide for improvements to the parks, as well as help with programming and services. It was approved at a cost of $74,940 to be funded through the city’s Parks Fund.
During Thursday’s meeting, Schmiesing explained how the master plan is citywide and includes all green spaces, parks, ball diamonds, public pools and areas, and any area where recreation is taking place in a public space or format. It also includes all programming and activities from the city.
Schmiesing went on to explain how the city and Pros Consulting went on a tour of the local parks and a number of vacant sites, including the former school sites.
“The city has reached out to the school district,” Schmiesing said. “We want to be a partner to the school district.”
To answer the question if the city is taking over those sites, Schmiesing added, “There are no answers at this point, but there is a conversation.”
Jeff Bransford, senior project manager with Pros Consulting, said that they have started the process for creating this master plan and they are trying to dig into the needs of the park system. The master plan is meant to create a vision and plan for the park system, including seeing where the parks are now, where the city and community wants to be, and how everyone wants to get there.
After a brief presentation, the approximately 20-30 attendees at the meeting were split into two focus groups to discuss the parks and facilities as well as the programs and events held in the city. Pros Consulting asked the questions, “What is working well in Piqua?” “What are the opportunities?” and “What are everyone’s priorities for the master plan?”
On the parks and facilities side, residents said that the bike path is doing well along with the river system, although access to the river could be improved. Another asset mentioned was Swift Run Lake. Residents also commented that there is a good mix of playgrounds and shelter areas.
The parks are also located within neighborhoods, which is good for residents, but may create an issue for people trying to find the parks if they are not familiar with the area. Public Works Director Doug Harter said that there is a wayfinding, or signage, project underway, so within a year, there will be signs throughout town giving people directions to the parks and public areas.
Community members mentioned a number of possibilities that they might like to see in the parks, including a fenced dog park, having the different types of trees identified with signage or labels, a neighborhood ball diamond on the opposite side of town from Pitsenbarger Park and Sports Complex, more restroom areas on the bike path, a sledding area, and more.
On the events side, community members highlighted Lock 9 Park and the fireworks held there along with Hance Pavilion, although one community member did not like the noise from Lock 9 Park during concert events. Another community member mentioned it was a nice place to come to sit and listen to the live music playing.
For needs in programming, one community member expressed a desire for senior citizens activities besides what is offered at the YMCA, and a possible senior citizen center.
Following this meeting, Pros Consulting will continue to engage with community. Pros Consulting is expected to make surveys available to the public to continue this discussion on the parks system. The creation of the master plan is expected to take approximately nine months.
Reach Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336