City adopts updated arts, parks and trails master plan following ‘extensive’ public input

ST. GEORGE — The final product of an effort to update the city of St. George’s parks, recreation, arts and trails master plan was adopted by the City Council Thursday, marking the end of an extensive process that relied heavily on public input.

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 | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“This is an item we’ve been working on for quite a while now,” City Manager Adam Lenhard said during Thursday’s meeting.

The master plan is designed to guide plans, programs and infrastructure for a decade or more, said Shane McAffee, the city’s leisure services director.

The master plan is typically updated once every 10 years, with minor updates made along the way. The document usually isn’t heavily updated before a decade’s time due to how costly and time-consuming the process can be, McAffee said.

The last time the city’s PRAT master plan was updated was 2006. Last year, city officials decided it was time for an update and set a public input campaign into motion in the fall.

“Extensive public input and comment has been given on this,” McAffee said.

St. George residents share their thoughts with city planners on what should be incorporated into an update of the city’s parks, recreation, arts and trails master plan, St. George, Utah, Sept. 11, 2018 | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The city held two open house events in September and October, conducted mail surveys, an online survey, focus groups, stakeholder interviews and other efforts. The fruits of those efforts produced the plan’s final draft, which was presented to the St. George City Council for review in May.

The final draft of the plan was then released to the public in June for a final comment period that would wrap by July 8, or so city officials thought. The flood of comments on the final draft that came into the city resulted in the comment period being extended to July 17.

It is estimated that around 12,000 people commented on the PRAT plan.

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

Vernon Worthen Park, St. George, Utah, Aug. 31, 2018 | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

About 83% of those surveyed want paved trails for walking, hiking and biking. Better connectivity throughout the city’s trail system is also a priority. A high percentage want to see the city build a performing arts center, an item some residents have been vocal about for many years.

Survey respondents also expressed a desire for more art- and music-based festivals.

“This helps us see what the citizens want in the community,” Councilwoman Bette Arial said.

McAffee mentioned to the City Council that members of the pickleball community want to see large pickleball complexes with multiple courts, like the complex in Little Valley, as opposed to smaller facilities scattered around the city that the plan had originally proposed.

That aspect of the plan was part of the last round of revisions prior to the master plan’s adoption by the council Thursday evening.

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

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