The city's Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Trails Master Plan was formally adopted in late December after months of public, city council and staff input.
The city's consultant, Logan Simpson, held three public hearings, met with a citizens' advisory committee four times, and reviewed surveys mailed to every household in Delta and available online to every resident of Delta County.
Jana McKenzie, a principal with Logan Simpson, said she was inspired by the number of people who showed up and participated in the discussion about the future of Delta's parks and trails. "It was a really healthy process in my opinion," she said. "Congratulations for participating and making it as good as it can be."
The Master Plan sets forth recommendations to improve the existing parks and recreation system while also identifying priorities for future actions and investments.
City amenities currently include 148 acres of developed parks; 201 acres of open space/natural areas; 320 acres of golf courses, cemeteries and special uses; one 18-hole and one nine-hole disc golf course; seven neighborhood/community parks; 6.6 miles of trail; six mini parks/plazas; and six homeowners' association parks.
The city also owns the Cottonwood and Riverbend areas which could be developed for an estimated $14.7 million. During the planning process, the need to address deferred park maintenance emerged as a higher priority. A long list of improvements to restrooms, play areas and irrigation systems adds up to $1.5 million. Logan Simpson calculated a minimum of $200,000 per year is needed to catch up; currently, the city budgets half that amount for parks maintenance.
"It is clear that additional revenue is required to keep the city's park system from further decline, and also to fund new projects," the Master Plan concluded.
The Master Plan identifies two key factors that are important to keeping the existing system in good condition -- continuing to partner with the school district to maximize the benefits of public properties for recreational purposes, and establishing a dedicated funding source that will provide money to match grants.
Council member Gerald Roberts questioned whether the project identified in the plan could be completed in the 10- or 20-year window identified in the Master Plan. Wilma Erven, director of parks, recreation and golf, responded, "It will be many years, many more than 20, to develop this plan. We all know what our financial situation is; we all know what our grant matching ability is, but this is an excellent road map for us to have."
Without a Master Plan in place, she added, it will be very difficult for the city to apply for grants to fund any of the projects.
"We will do as much of it as we can," she said.
The key word is plan, said council member Ron Austin. "Without a plan, without a vision, we don't know what to prepare for, so we thank you for all of your great work."
"This does give us a living document we can start working with," commented council member Christopher Ryan.
Even before completion of the plan, the city responded to citizen comments by purchasing a movable climbing wall and by pursuing a grant for improvements at Cleland Park. The city has applied for $200,000 from GOCO to make the playground ADA compliant, as well as construct an ADA trail from the playground to the parking area on 7th Street. The city also intends to enlarge the horseshoe pits from four to six, fence the horseshoe pit area and upgrade the sand volleyball court.
A collaborative effort between the Delta County Sheriff's Office and municipal law enforcement agencies throughout Delta County has resulted in a proposal for a 1 percent sales tax increase to fund public safety. A PowerPoint presentation titled "Back the Badge" is starting to make the rounds at city/town council meetings, service club luncheons and other events.