Door Still Open for Parks and Recreation Master Plan in Peoria

December 13, 2013

From The Peoria Times
By Katy O'Grady, Member, Peoria Parks and Recreation Board

It’s hard to believe it was nearly a year ago the Peoria Parks and Recreation Board reached out to fellow Peoria residents asking for input on the future of parks and recreation in our city. I guess time flies when you’re having fun – and it has, actually, been a fun process gathering your thoughts and ideas, your priorities, needs and wants, and using them to update the Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Trails Master Plan.

This document will guide the city’s parks and recreation development over the next 10 years. Working with city staff and a team from Norris Design, your Parks and Recreation Board – which is a volunteer citizen board – joined in at least half a dozen public meetings to listen to what you had to say. And unlike in some cities that don’t enjoy the kind of active public involvement that we’re lucky to have, you did speak up and share your ideas. Thank you.

As the folks from Norris Design explained, the public input, including the results of a random survey mailed to a healthy sampling of Peoria households, has a provided an updated PROST plan that we can be proud of, and that we can be confident represents the desires and needs of our wide-ranging and diverse community.

Just taking a look at the hefty draft plan provided by the Norris Design team at our recent meeting, the parks board got an in-depth look at how comprehensive this plan really is. Many of you spoke of the need for more lighted youth ball fields and recreational facilities north of Bell Road. Those are the in the plan. Others indicated the need to maintain the facilities we have south of Bell. Those priorities, too, are in the plan – listed park by park, actually.

From shifting staffing and adjusting the way maintenance is handled in order to get more out of limited dollars, to adding adult fitness and wellness programs and perhaps following the trend of having private organizations lead “boot camps” in some of our parks to meet demand – the plan puts concrete ideas on paper based on your input. It’s not just a wish list. It’s a plan. Sure, some of it depends on funding, but even the funding mechanisms are outlined.

The PROST title actually has been expanded in this plan to truly capture the scope of what it hopes to deliver: “Community Services Master Plan: Implementation strategies for Peoria’s Parks, Recreation, Open Space, Trails, Public Art and Library Services.” Do you use any of the city’s facilities that fall into these categories? Do you check out ebooks? Hike, ATV or ride horses on the trails? Use the ballparks or coach youth sports? Take classes at Rio Vista or want to take classes at a similar facility up north? Then you should probably take a look at the plan and give us your 2 cents.

Even if you don’t want to read the plan from front to back (that’s why we have a Parks Board) then please share with the City Council your support for these important facilities, maintenance priorities and programs. Because when it comes right down to it, the funding will come to those programs that are deemed most worthwhile. And if Council knows how important the programs and facilities outlined in the Community Services Master Plan are to you, they’ll receive more attention when it comes time to decide funding priorities.

Just visit and leave us your comments. And by the way, the plan isn’t finalized yet, so if you still want to provide input, you can go ahead and do that online, too.

Thanks, and get out there and enjoy this great city!

You can also read the opinion article here.