PIQUA — The Piqua City Commission held a joint worksession Wednesday evening with the park board to discuss the recent draft of the Parks Master Plan the city released approximately a month ago.
PROS Consulting President Leon Younger led a presentation on the document, noting the community input and the variety of suggestions for improvements, from critical projects needed for repairs to visionary projects that could take place over a decade.
“There was a very intentional and large effort to engage as many people as we could,” Younger said. He noted that there were 18 community engagement sessions, which included stakeholder meetings with representatives from the YMCA, the Piqua City School district, the Piqua Improvement Corporation, youth sports clubs, local residents, students, and more.
The benefit of including as many opinions from the community as possible is that, when or if city officials decide to pursue any of the ideas within the Parks Master Plan, they will know that these ideas have been vetted and even suggested by the Piqua community, City Planner Chris Schmiesing explained.
The total amount of acres of all of the parks in the city is 403.5, with approximately 19.3 acres per 1,000 residents. As Younger stated that the average for city the size of Piqua in the Midwest is to have between 10-15 acres per 1,000 residents, many of the suggestions included investing in maintaining and building upon existing parks, or “green infrastructure.”
“There’s not really a great need in terms of new facilities,” Younger said.
Walking and biking trails, along with creating a nature center and trails, were noted as the top two types of parks and recreation facilities most important to local households. An off-leash dog park and a swimming pool/water park were noted in the third and fourth spots on that list.
Pitsenbarger Park and Sports Complex was discussed a possible site for future enhancement.
The existing site is 67 acres containing baseball, softball, little league, soccer, and football fields, along with tennis courts, a swimming pool, skate park, picnic facilities, play equipment, and community gardens, according to the master plan document. The master plan notes that it is in need of “improvement and reorganization,” as the “current organization of fields’ on site does not maximize space usage or provide efficient circulation.”
A conceptual plan of improvements at Pitsenbarger — one that could be implemented over the five to 10 years — included adding a gathering space/plaza at the corner of McKinley Avenue and South Street, a dog park along McKinley, basketball courts, and a playground. A concession stand and storage building would be added in a central location between the sporting event fields.
West and north expansions were also included in the concept — which could include overflow parking for large sporting events, new natural areas, and a trail connection — it would require the acquisition of the property directly adjacent to the existing site and a large agricultural parcel of land northwest of the existing site.
The improvements to the sports complex could make the site a potential host to traveling sporting events and tournaments.
The approximate costs of implementation of the conceptual plan would include:
• Pitsenbarger Park and Sports Complex improvements: $2-3 million
• West expansion site: $500,000 to $1,000,000
• North expansion site: $750,000 to $1,250,000
These improvements were listed as a possible visionary project. Under critical projects, Pitsenbarger was noted as needing repairs to resurface and update the playground, update the pool, update fencing, and improve design standards. The cost of those improvements was listed as $270,000.
A nature center was noted as another possible visionary project.
“It’s really an important component your community has brought forward,” Younger said.
Strategic recommendations included enhancing the trail system by adding or updating two miles of the trail each year along with better utilizing the city’s access to the riverfront to create an outdoor adventure experience.
“Nobody is really doing it well,” Younger said.
Programming for adult wellness and fitness was also noted as a need in the master plan.
Commissioner Judy Terry asked how the city should go forward with this document.
Younger suggested picking one or two suggested projects in the document to do each year.
“It requires an effort and an opportunity to go after a funding source,” Younger said.
Younger pointed out that the city does not have a dedicated funding source for parks, like a levy, and he encouraged the officials in attendance to consider looking at creating a dedicated funding source.
“Great cities have great parks,” Younger said.
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