Parks study sets path for Plantation
First, the basics: Plantation residents want a bathroom available when they visit their local park. And they want shade.
That said, they’re generally happy with parks in Plantation, according to a recent study conducted as part of the Parks and Recreation Department’s master plan. The city contracted with consultants Miller Legg to analyze what they call “qualitative and quantitative” information. I call it using anecdotes and various surveys.
The evaluation, completed earlier this year, resulted in a 258-page report, and, more importantly, a significant amount of self-evaluation by the department.
The master plan is a tool intended to help the city meet the current and future recreation needs of the community. The plan also will serve as a source of applicable decision-making information, mainly because it establishes clear goals and actionable objectives. And, as the report states, those goals will help guide staff, advisory committees, and us on the city council as we try to maintain and enhance Plantation’s system of parks, recreation facilities and programs.
The master plan process consisted of community engagement (meetings of residents), followed by a demographic and trend analysis. Next came a study of what we already have in terms of parks, facilities, and programs, with a needs assessment being the final steps.
The report reads “Residents of Plantation have a lot to celebrate about their parks and recreation system. Throughout the community there are diverse opportunities to participate in sports and fitness activities, enjoy the great outdoors, or attend a special event or program.
“The lands, infrastructure, programs, and services Plantation dedicates to recreation directly contribute to community well-being and help make the City an attractive place to live, work, and play. While the existing parks and recreation system is generally meeting the recreation needs of the community, the Parks & Recreation master planning process identified key areas for strengthening current service delivery and preparing Plantation to continue to meet the recreation needs of its growing population.
Necessary improvements include enhancing communication and opportunities for recreation as well as some facility upgrades. An inventory assessment summary compared Plantation’s parks to standards set by the National Recreation and Parks Association and a Florida Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan.
Goals developed through the master planning process focus on improving departmental “organizational efficiencies,” finding new and innovative means to fund additional recreation opportunities for Plantation residents (not just children), increasing public awareness of Plantation’s existing recreation programs and improving existing facilities.
Of course, all of this was devised before the coronavirus crisis came and at this point it’s unclear how society will change. Will we want fewer big gatherings and team sports? Will recreational events such as 5K runs suffer? Will people who self-quarantined determine that their recreation needs are best driven by themselves? (Think Peleton.) So there will be some adjustments.
But overall it is clear that parks are a vital part of our city. Parks have also been shown to increase property values of adjacent property for both residential and commercial uses. Park availability can attract new residents and workforce, and park attendance can lead to increased numbers of patrons to nearby businesses.
Just as we do every facet of the city, we will continually evaluate our parks plan. Sometimes, like in this case, a report is necessary. But it really comes down to just providing good customer service.
Nick Sortal is president of the Plantation City Council. Email him at NSortal@Plantation.org. This newsletter originates on NickSortal.com and is share via social media platforms. To get it directly, search “NickSortal, Plantation City Council” on Facebook.