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City must prepare for more demands on parks, ball fields

By By MIKE VOSS
Contributing Editor
The consulting firm that prepared the draft of the city’s proposed parks and recreation master plan contends the plan is making a timely debut.
Although studies indicate people are traveling less when it comes to meeting their recreational needs, there are some exceptions, the draft notes.
That means the city can expect increased demands on its parks and recreation facilities not only from its residents but from people outside the city and Beaufort County. An updated parks and recreation master plan will help the city better prepare for the expected increase demands on its parks and recreation facilities, city officials said.
The draft notes that parks connected by a system of greenways encourage walking and biking to the nearest activity center or grocery store rather than driving.
Development of the Jack’s Creek greenway is something the city has been working on for several years.
The draft notes that completing the Jack’s Creek greenway would help connect Veterans Park, which is adjacent to Jack’s Creek, to surrounding neighborhoods and schools. Veterans Park’s flat, open lawn allows for passive recreational uses, the draft said. Veterans Park is next to the Fragrance and Texture Garden, which the study says no longer functions as a fragrance and texture garden, on East Third Street.
The draft notes that the combination of Jack’s Greenway and the two adjacent parks provides a large amount of passive-use open space in the city.
According to the draft, 102 people returned surveys concerning the city’s parks and recreation facilities and needs.
The surveys show, in terms of participation, the top five activities are walking pets, walking in a natural area, viewing wildlife, swimming in a pool and walking along a trail. In terms of interest, the surveys show the top five activities are viewing wildlife, walking in a natural area, walking along a trail, using a fitness trail and boating/sailing.
The draft recommends the city consider adding more mini-parks and neighborhood parks to its parks system. Multiple mini-parks should not replace community parks or neighborhood parks, the draft notes. A mini-park, or pocket park, is usually the size of an average lot for a home. A neighborhood park is a medium-size park ranging in size from three acres to 10 acres. Community parks range in size from one acre to 40 acres, according to the draft.
To better prepare for the expected increase in use of the city’s parks and recreation facilities, the city should begin meeting some parks and recreation needs that are not being met, the draft concludes.
Unmet needs identified by the Parks and Recreation Department include a park in the western area of the city, a park in the northern area of the city and a permanent dock master’s office and restrooms to replace temporary facilities in place since 2002.
The draft notes that unmet needs identified by the public include a park in the western area of the city, tennis courts, more boat mooring areas, more playgrounds for young children and more seating along the waterfront.
For additional details concerning the proposed parks and recreation master plan, see future editions of the Daily News.