Dearborn’s recreation master plan for 2010-15 will get some final input from the public tomorrow night, as the Recreation Commission holds a 7:30 p.m. meeting at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center.
The Commission will be taking public comments on the final draft of the plan outlining the city’s long-range recreation goals and needs. The commission will then vote recommending the adoption of the plan, and send it the City Council for a final vote on Sept. 27.
The plan has already received much public input, Rob Eggers of the Spicer Group (the consultant in helping put the plan together) told the City Council at a mayoral briefing setting the agenda for its last regular meeting Sept. 7. Eggers said there were focus group meetings with 11 community groups having a stake in recreation, blogging onto a project website informing city residents of every step in the process (gathering 3,000 hits and 75 blog comments), and an on-line survey with about 850 returns.
“We found an exceptional number of ways to get good community input,” Eggers said. “If you do get time to go through the plan, overall that’s probably the most interesting thing you’ll find in the plan is the results and their comments.”
This information was used in helping develop the plan’s goals, Eggers said. The goals: 1) Use resources efficiently and responsibly fiscally. 2) provide exceptional customer service. 3) Promote a sense of community. 4) Make sure parks and programs are accessible. 5) Innovate programs and make facilities state-of-the-art. 6) Cultivate partnerships. 7)Promote a healthy community.
Recreation Director Gregory S. Orner believes the current expiring master plan is more of a “wish list” document from better financial times, but the proposed document has a strategy more aimed at taking fiscal realities more into account.
“I think we’ve done a little better job in this plan identifying specific objectives, and identifying particular specific strategies to meet those objectives,” Orner said after the council meeting.
The surveys showed residents’ high satisfaction with the Recreation Department’s services and programs, Eggers told the council, and that residents “of course” want to see this quality recreation services continued. Most used recreational amenities were the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center, paved paths, children’s playgrounds, and outdoor pools. Most used facilities at the center are the theater, swimming pool and senior citizen center.
The three most-requested new facilities, Eggers said, are paths and walking trails, spray parks and comfort stations (restrooms). At Camp Dearborn, the two most requested new facilities were a water slide into the lake, and connection to the Kensington-Milford Trail. Special events were very popular, he said, with wide support for city-school district collaboration on middle-school recreation, as well as with the focus groups.
While the city does have a keen interest in trail development, Orner said after the council meeting, the master plan does not engage properties other than the city’s own, or go into connecting up regional trails. The plan concentrates more on how to attach Camp Dearborn onto a trail, he said, as well as developing Ford Field as more of a trailhead.
“I think it would be great to see those (regional) connections,” Orner said. “I don’t know that we’ll be the driver of connecting all of those, because there’s another organization that’s more focused on that, but we certainly within the city want to do our part to make sure we’re not ‘the gap’ in the system.”
In that five-year plan, he said, a $3.8-million investment is estimated to be necessary to upgrade all of the swimming pools built in the 1940s and 1950s. However, replacing the pools with spray parks, or adding them to the pools, Orner said, would surprisingly not save that much money over erecting them at new sites, because the pools’ piping is old and leaking.
The possibility of developing the Rotunda ball diamond facility into skin infields that could accommodate baseball’s 90-foot infields and 60-foot softball infields, Orner said, and keep all the equipment supporting ball diamonds in one complex and free up city parks to other uses. The mayor has also discussed with Henry Ford Community College on partnering with the city in a hardball diamond, though Orner said the diamond is in poor condition and could involve considerable cost to the school and city.
Spicer had indicated to recreation people that the city already had a good working relationship with the schools on sharing facilities, Orner said, “But the more closely we can work together, the better.” The school and city officials are currently working on the draft on an updated shared facility use agreement, he said, seeking more collaboration and partnership.
Mayor John B. O’Reilly Jr. suggested to the Council that along with a water slide at Camp Dearborn, there could be a nine-hole disc golf course in the Lake 1 area, which he said was underutilized and too remote to bother Tent Village One campers. The river was also underutilized, the mayor told the council, and getting the trail finished there would be key. Milford Township is already supportive of doing all these improvements to the camp, he said.
When Councilwoman Suzanne Sareini questioned whether a water-slide project would continue to be blocked as in the past, O’Reilly said that was when the township was trying to protect its water slide on Pontiac Trail. Since that water park is gone, the township would be happy to have the water slide at Camp Dearborn. Council President Thomas P. Tafelski added that Huron Township water parks are jampacked.
The draft plan is also available for review at this link, or the following locations during normal office hours at Plan office, council office or clerk’s office at City Hall; the Recreation Department, or Henry Ford Centennial Library.