ST. GEORGE — Following a second meeting where residents were able to give their input on the future of St. George’s arts, parks and recreational plans, programs and facilities, the City Council was given an update on the input process and its result as of last week.
“In terms of what we’ve heard, we’ve heard a lot,” said Steve Duh, of Conservation Technix, a consulting firm hired to help the city update its parks and trails master plan. The plan is typically updated every 10 years, with the last update taking place in 2006.
The city launched an effort to update the plan in late August and has held two public input meetings and two focus groups, mailed 2,500 surveys and posted an online survey on the city website.
As of last week, approximately 1,500 residents have shared what direction they’d like to see the city’s arts, parks and recreation master plan take.
Duh presented the results of these ongoing efforts to the St. George City Council during a work meeting last Thursday.
Nearly 100 percent of the people who responded to the community survey feel parks and recreation are “essential or important” to the quality of life they enjoy in St. George. Around 86 percent of survey respondents also visit a city park at least once a month.
A sliver of respondents – 1.7 percent – consider the city’s parks and recreational offerings to be “more of a luxury than a need.”
Respondents also noted they would like to see the city’s older parks get updated playground equipment and features, Duh said.
According to the survey results, having more paved urban trials for walking and cycling that also connected to the city’s parks ranked among the top desires of residents as far as recreational facilities and infrastructure went.
“I feel we need to connect the trails we have before expanding them,” Mayor Jon Pike said.
It is an issue the city is already planning to address through the active transportation plan the City Council adopted last year.
Read more: City adopts active transportation plan
The priority on trails was followed by a desire for indoor recreation centers and pools, a performing arts center and an adventure sports facility that could offer climbing, parkour and rope courses.
Survey respondents would also like more community events and festivals, more arts and cultural festivals and access to indoor fitness and health equipment. That was followed by a desire for dance and music classes, visual arts and media classes, among other items.
Both the mayor and Councilman Jimmie Hughes said the city doesn’t like to compete with the private sector. This was largely in reference to indoor fitness facilities. Pike said those are prevalent throughout the area, though also noted the city does maintain a gym inside the rec center of 400 East.
Top priorities for arts, parks and recreation improvements taken from the first community input meeting held in September included better inter-connectivity of the city’s trail system, more sports courts and fields and more access to natural areas.
On arts and cultural offerings, meeting attendees ranked having more events, festivals and celebrations on their lists of priorities, followed by more fitness, education and general recreational classes and more arts and cultural activities and venues.
Other themes explored by the public at September’s community meeting included a call for more pickleball courts, as well as youth and senior-focused programs.
There was also discussion among the City Council about where the placement of future parks and facilities may go as the city continues to grow. A possibility floated by Pike could see future parks being more spread out and somewhat larger, particularly in areas of high population density.
As for the overall plan itself, Councilman Joe Bowcutt recommended city officials update it on a more frequent basis.
“We sit here and talk about the next 10 years, or whatever. We need to make sure we’re looking at every year,” Bowcutt said. “There may only be one change, a minor change, but not take 10 years to look at it again.”
The second of the city’s three community public input meetings was held last Oct. 24. The third input meeting will be held sometime in December.
It is anticipated that an updated arts, parks and recreation master plan will be drafted and presented to the City Council for approval early next year.
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