The City of Delta's parks department kicked off a months-long planning process to address future development of parks, trails and recreational opportunities last week with a community open house. The process of gathering community input, drafting a list of potential projects and devising a plan of action will take the rest of the year, said Kristina Kachur, one of the consultants with the firm Logan Simpson from Fort Collins, which has been hired to guide the city through the process.
"We're really happy with Logan Simpson," said Tony Bohling, the city's parks department manager. "They've been great, and we're excited to see what they build us."
The firm has been tasked with helping the city to draft a master plan addressing parks, recreation, open space and trails. The master plan will service the city for 10 years, providing a road map for improvements and areas of growth for recreational opportunities within city limits. The master plan will also include a needs assessment of existing facilities.
This process is also a community-driven plan, Bohling said. The city has limited funds with which to maintain current recreational facilities; that pool of funding also has to cover new projects. "The city certainly has ideas on how we can spend that money, but it's more appropriate, as good stewards, to get input from the community on what you want to see us do," he said.
To that end, Logan Simpson has devised a process that aims to get the most community input as possible, and the open house was the first step. Attendees at the event were greeted with a series of posters displayed around the room, which asked questions about current rec opportunities and areas for growth. Attendees wrote suggestions on the posters. "Tonight, we're just listening to what people want to see," Kachur said. "We want to hear all the big ideas." Those answers will be compiled into a draft of potential projects, conceptual ideas and community priorities.
When asked what's working well for the city's recreational offerings, citizens wrote that Devil's Thumb, the large open parks and Confluence Lake were big assets for the community. Having free or low cost recreational opportunities was also noted as something the city is doing well. Both the dog park and the new disc golf course received kudos from citizens. Not surprisingly, the city's flower program also received praise.
The poster asking what improvements need to be made garnered many more responses. Several people wrote comments about wanting more access to water, either through better swimming access at Confluence, more non-motorized water sports available at the lake, the creation of a whitewater park along the river, a splash pad or free-standing water park. Several people also expressed their desire for better play equipment at Cleland Park for children. Specifically, citizens are looking for a larger play area that appeals to kids of all ages, as well as replacing old and worn equipment.
Having clean, well-stocked public restrooms open year round was also a common theme. Some parks and fields don't have any public restrooms, and some city restrooms are closed seasonally.
One poster highlighted existing trails and paths within the city, and asked citizens to comment on which additional trails and/or connections are needed. Having walking or bike paths from Hastings to the high school, from Hastings to Sweitzer Lake and paths connecting Confluence trails to Riverbend and Cottonwood were all noted. A few asked for trails to extend from the city up to Pleasure Park or Grand Mesa. Many of those who commented on this question mentioned they wanted to see paved paths and trails. It was also noted that all paths and trails should be handicapped accessible. One of the most requested additions was a connected biking trail.
The consulting team also asked what kind of outdoor recreational opportunities people wanted to see. More community events was mentioned several times, as was the addition of a convention center or events facility. A couple of people suggested the addition of a pickleball court.
Many of these ideas, if implemented, would likely extend to outside of the city-owned and maintained area and some of the projects, like a comprehensive biking or walking trails system, would take both the city and Delta County to complete. The master plan, and all projects that arise from that plan, include only city-owned recreational outlets, Bohling said, though the city is actively working with the county, which is also currently undergoing a trails/recreation master plan process. Bohling said the city and the county, and their two consulting teams, have already met and discussed ways the two entities can coordinate their efforts in this process.
In addition to last week's meeting, there will be two additional community forums, one in late summer and one in the fall. Those sessions will be more work sessions, Kachur explained, during which her firm will present a comprehensive list of the projects and concepts the community has identified as priorities.
Within the next two weeks, all residents of the city will be receiving a survey through the mail. Bohling also said more information will come, and comments will be taken, through a variety of outlets, including the City's Facebook page and the Delta Message Board on Facebook, the city's website, www.cityofdelta.net/parks, or through the Delta County Independent.