Final draft of St. George parks, recreation, arts and trails master plan slated for public review

ST. GEORGE — The effort to update the city of St. George’s parks, recreation, arts and trails master plan that began last fall will soon be available for public review.

Shane McAffee, St. George’s leisure services director, goes through the final draft of the city’s parks, recreation, arts and trails master plan, St. George, Utah, May 28, 2019 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Last year, the city launched a campaign to gain as much resident input as possible regarding the course of the new master plan. City officials wanted to know what activities, facilities and events held priority in the community and work those findings into a master plan that hasn’t been updated since 2006.

“This is the plan that will direct where the parks and rec for the city of St. George goes for the next 10 years,” Shane McAffee, the city’s leisure services director, said Tuesday.

The master plan, which is the result of two open house events in September and October, as well as mail surveys, an online survey, focus groups, stakeholder interviews and other efforts, has been compiled into a final draft that was presented to the City Council on May 23. The final draft has yet to be adopted because the city plans a final round of public input.

Read more: Residents offer suggestions for St. George’s arts, parks and trails master plan

“If there’s something new or that we think is significant we will add that into the plan,” McAffee said. The master plan will likely be placed online for public review by mid-June and City Council could adopt it by early July.

A part of a path that intersects with others at the Crosby Family Confluence Park, St. George, Utah, Nov. 24, 2015 | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Residents will be able to find the results of last fall’s community input process inside the 285-page document when it becomes available for public review.

“The plan doesn’t specifically say we should build x number of pickleball courts or whatever,” McAffee said. What the plan does do is help city planners see the different types of parks, facilities, programs and events to plan for moving forward.

“An example of that is that a large percentage of people wanted see more festivals and events rather than any other types of performances,” he said. “There are also a lot of people who want to see a performing arts center built.”

Read more: Public input begins to shape city’s arts, parks and recreation master plan

The festivals residents want to see relate to art and music, according to the survey results.

Trails and trail-connectivity is also a priority for St. George residents, McAffee said.

The open house meetings and survey garnered a response from an estimated 12% of the city’s population, or over 10,000 people.

“It was such an open process and a lot of community imput,” McAffee said.

Community turns out for the 40th annual St. George Art Festival, April 19, 2019 | File photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

Results of the survey showed that 98% of community participants feel that public parks and recreation opportunities are important or essential to the quality of life, with 86% being satisfied to various degrees regarding current city offerings.

Regarding what type of facilities people would like to see more of, trails for walking and biking took the highest priority at 84% for respondents. An estimated 73% of respondents also said there’s a need for a dedicated performing arts center.

Other priorities were more pickleball courts and indoor fitness and recreational programs residents felt the city is lacking.

“This is really one of those important times we really wanted to see what our neighbors think,” St. George Mayor Jon Pike said.

Policy issues the master plan will change is how big new parks are and where they will go, McAffee said.

City policy had maintained that a park would be at 10 acres per every 1,000 residents. However, the city hasn’t followed that policy as it has downgraded to 5 acres per 1,000 residents. An official change to the policy was given a nod by the City Council last week.

The practice of having parks within a half mile of each other is also out, as future locations will be determined by population density.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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