Jeff Achee, director of Parks and Recreation, stood before a crowd of about 20 people on Nov. 14 in Council Chambers at Harker Heights City Hall to begin the third and final public forum concerning the launching of the 2020-2030 City of Harker Heights Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan.
At the onset, Achee made it clear that the forum was not for the purpose of gathering input or taking comments about Dana Peak Park.
“The forums and The Master Plan address all existing parks and their features all across the city,” Achee said.
Two earlier public forums were held in September to give the public a chance to voice their wants and concerns along withan online survey that asked the question: “What is the single most important issue or need concerning parks and recreation programs in the City of Harker Heights?”
A total of 364 residents took the survey that created a 16-page list of wishes and suggestions.
“All the information gathered is very important because it will guide the direction of the Parks and Recreation Department for the next 10 years,” Achee said.
Brent Luck of the Luck Design Team was also at the meeting and shared information about the Master Plan and findings of his firm’s research about Harker Heights.
Luck’s team will initiate the plan and maintain it over the next 10 years.
During August and September of this year, the design team conducted an inventory of existing parks, facilitated the needs assessment online survey and sponsored the three public forums.
Luck explained that the Parks Master Plan Schedule has included developing goals for the plan, establishing park amenity priorities, forming facility based and acreage-based guidelines and will vet an implementation plan during the week of Dec. 2.
An inventory report shared by Luck indicates that neighborhood parks are usually less than five acres; used by residents within walking area; and usually do not have off-street parking and rest rooms.
Community parks are the largest parks, serving traditional family groups and alternate use groups and usually has off-street parking and rest rooms.
The neighborhood parks in Harker Heights are Goode-Connell, Kern, Purser Family and Skipcha. Community parks include Carl Levin, Community Garden, Community and the Summit Soccer Complex.
Residents said hiking and walking trails and Splash Pads are the highest priorities in the outdoor park amenity category followed by playgrounds, dog parks, outdoor pools, soccer, indoor pool and a Senior Center in the medium amenity category.
Finally, the priorities in the moderate category are bicycle trails, a skate park, natural area/open space, softball, tennis courts, baseball, fishing, a multipurpose indoor recreation center, wildlife viewing areas and basketball.
Preliminary goals and objectives in the Parks Plan will include: increasing the percentage of park land, including open space and greenbelt areas; increase usage of indoor and outdoor facilities through programming; review of policies and ordinances and develop marketing strategies for recreational programs.
In 2020, the goals would focus on accessibility, sustainability, maintenance and innovation.