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January 9, 2013

Take part in shaping city’s parks and recreation plan

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

Hoping for some more picnic tables or trails at your neighborhood park? Those who live and work in Troy can have a say in how the city shapes its 5-Year Parks and Recreation Master Plan.

Troy City Planning Director Brent Savidant explained that, every five years, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources requires municipalities to redefine or update their parks and recreation plans, in order to be eligible to apply for grant funding. Savidant said that, while the city hasn’t pursued the grants in the past, it is good practice to update the plan every five years. They may pursue grants in the future, but there have been no matching funds to do so since the economic downturn.

“It allows the community to prioritize goals,” he said.

To that end, those who wish to help define what parks and recreation programs will look like in Troy may complete a survey online or attend community forums to talk with city leaders about improvements to parks and levels of service.

Ben Carlisle of Carlisle/Wortman Associates, the city’s planning consultant, said the survey allows people to leave specific comments on geographic areas in the city.

The site, www.troyrecplan.com, features the 17 existing municipal parks, as well as undeveloped sites of proposed parks, and lets users leave specific comments or suggestions — for upgrades or maintenance on existing parks or requests to develop areas as parkland, for example. Also, users can see comments others have already made.

Savidant said that the plan will address the question, “Is it realistic to develop some or all of the parkland, in light of economic challenges?”

The combined budgets for the Parks and Recreation departments dropped from $9.5 million in 2007-08 to $3.3 million in 2012-13. In the last five-year plan, 12 pieces of land were designated as future park sites. Of those, three were developed: Gateway Park, Milverton Park and Big Beaver Road Park. The remaining sites are undeveloped and are likely to remain so, due to financial limitations, Savidant said.

“It’s very important that residents are involved in this process,” Savidant said. “Your vote counts, and you can continue to be involved.”

“The survey is an attempt to look at the big picture,” Carlisle added.

At press time, more than 750 people had responded to the survey. It will remain live until after a Jan. 17 public forum. “We’ve had good feedback so far,” Savidant said. “It’s also a referendum on how well the Parks and Recreation departments are doing with limited resources.”

After the public forums, the Parks and Recreation Board, then the Planning Commission, will review the plan before it goes to the City Council for consideration and approval in coming months.

The first public input session will be held at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 17 at the Troy Community Center, 3179 Livernois. There will be another session held in February. Take the survey online at www.troyrecplan.com.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Terry Oparka at toparka@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1054.