Parks & Rec from 30,000 feet

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Among the goals of the master plan that will be written for Covington Parks & Recreation: Improving water-based activities for youth.

City wants help writing long-term master plan for facilities, programs

COVINGTON, Ky. - Covington Parks & Recreation has hired a consultant to help it do some soul searching over the next 10 months, and it's going to need the public's help.
 
"We plan to have a 30,000-foot-level conversation about who we are, and who we need to be to best serve Covington families," said Rosie Santos, Parks & Recreation Manager. "We want to take a strategic look at how we are maintaining, building, and operating our parks, pools, and other facilities, and how we should be programming them."
 
The goal, Santos said, is straight-forward: Covington wants to spend its money and assign its resources to provide the activities that best align with what its families want.
 
Toward that end, Brandstetter Carroll Inc. - a firm of architects, engineers and planners - will help the City write a citywide master plan that, in about a month, will start asking residents to engage via a survey and forums.
 
The City Commission voted 4-0 on June 24 to hire Brandstetter Carroll for up to $100,000 to both write the plan and - as a related project - create detailed engineering drawings for improvements at Barb Cook Park in Latonia.
 
In contrast, the master plan will not produce detailed drawings but a strategy.
 
All told, Covington has nearly 1,000 acres of parkland and green space spread out over 40 different parks, playgrounds and facilities, including about 700 acres that make up the expansive Devou Park and its golf course and biking trails.
 
The City directly manages about 30 facilities on nearly 200 acres, including the Licking River Greenway & Trails, the Riverfront Commons trail under construction, the 54-acre Bill Cappel Sports Complex (with its baseball diamonds and soccer fields), two full-size swimming pools, a water park, and an array of smaller playgrounds.
 
"Some of these parks haven't been redeveloped in 15 or 20 years," Santos said. "We're looking at these parks and we're essentially asking, 'What is their potential?' "
 
Santos said the master plan will address a variety of issues, such as:
  • Many residents have expressed a desire for a dog park, Santos said, but is it feasible? And where would it go?
  • Previous surveys concluded that children most favor basketball, soccer, and swimming, she said. Is that still true? If so, how can the City better deliver on those activities?
  • Covington lacks a recreation/activities/community center. What would such a facility look like? Where could it go?
  • Several of the City's playgrounds are in obscure areas, are deemed "overflow" spots during heavy rain and flood, and get little use. Should the City continue to spend money to maintain those areas?
 
The process
To begin the 10-month process that will answer these and other questions, the City has put together a steering committee of staff and outside stakeholders to bring Brandstetter Carroll up to date on current amenities and demographics, as well as set a vision.
 
A previously formed citizens advisory group will help the consultant engage the public, starting around the end of July, Santos said.
 
"We're already getting started," she said. "We're setting up a citywide survey, focus groups, and community engagement forums."
 
To pay for the work, Devou Properties Inc. has contributed $30,000, and the City has set aside federal grants for the rest.
 
Barb Cook Park
The improvements at Barb Cook represent the third phase of an ongoing park redevelopment schedule that has already led to an upgrade at Father Hanses Park in Lewisburg and the construction that's underway at Peaselburg Park.
 
Santos said that redevelopment schedule will proceed simultaneously alongside the writing of the master plan, with an effort to get public input on improvements at Goebel Park representing the fourth phase.
 
It will take about six months to turn a year's worth of public engagement on Barb Cook into detailed drawings. The City has set aside $200,000 in federal grant money for construction and playground equipment for Barb Cook, but it has separately applied for two outside grants that could pay for some of those costs.
 
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