When planning for future parks and recreation opportunities, Manatee County wants to hear from residents about why they like using the parks as well as finding out why some don’t use the existing facilities, according to the county’s recreation division manager.
“It is vital to communities to have a park planning process, staying connected to the community and getting a reality check from them,” Danny Hopkins said.
As a way to hear from the community as the county develops a parks master plan, the county is having a series of public meetings beginning Dec. 7. The county is working with consultant Kimley-Horn and Associates in developing the plan, which when complete “will provide a 15-year blueprint for the county to develop and maximize recreation and open space amenities,” according to a news release.
The public meetings are the second step in the process of developing the master plan, according to Hopkins. The first step was for the consultant to develop a scope to “find out exactly how users feel about the park system and how they value parks and recreation and preserves,” he said.
Part of the master planning process is to educate the public but also to have the public educate the county, Hopkins said.
“Our hope is exactly that to have a path, a vision for what our future steps are,” he said.
With the half-cent sales tax going into effect Jan. 1, 14 percent of the revenue generated from the tax will go toward parks and community amenities, which is “really a great opportunity,” Hopkins said.
“That funding will definitely make our planning efforts a little more focused,” he said.
Before the master plan is presented to the county commission for approval, there will be additional opportunities for feedback at other times in 2017, Charlie Hunsicker, the county’s parks and natural resources director, said in the news release.
“During these meetings, we’ll be giving an overview of existing conditions and asking people what they want to see in the future,” Hunsicker said. “We’d like to get a wide diversity of comments and for people to tell us in their own words what their expectations are for what a quality parks system looks like.”
Manatee County Parks Master Plan meetings
- 3-4:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at G.T. Bray Park Recreation Center, 5502 33rd Ave. Dr. W., Bradenton
- 6-8 p.m. Dec. 7 at Rocky Bluff Library, 6750 U.S. 301, Ellenton
- 6-8 p.m. Dec. 13 at Braden River Library, 4915 53rd Ave. E., Bradenton
- 6-8 p.m. Dec. 15 at South Manatee Branch Library, 6081 26th St. W., Bradenton
- 6-8 p.m. Jan. 12 at Palmetto Library, 923 6th St. W., Palmetto