Keller Parks & Recreation begins update process for master plan

03/12/2014 1:34 PM

03/12/2014 1:35 PM

Keller Parks & Recreation is starting the update process for the Parks & Open Space Master Plan, which was last updated in 2007.

Citizens were invited to a public workshop Thursday night to discuss the beginnings of the plan, participate in a survey and break into small groups focusing on four development areas in Keller.

About 35 people attended the meeting and more than 260 have taken the online survey, Parks & Recreation Director Dona Roth Kinney said. The update is a $49,925 project expected to take 11 months.

“We want the right facilities for our citizens here because when the land is used up, it’s gone,” board chairman Ron Jencopale said. “We need to plan for what’s best for our city’s future.”

The 2007 update made land acquisition the department’s priority. Other highlights included trail additions, a senior citizen’s center, playgrounds, tennis and basketball courts and lighted soccer fields.

Some residents expressed concern over funding for new projects and land because of money issues from the last update.

Resident Sara Legvold, who has lived in Keller more than 30 years, said she believed the city could resolve issues with funding for new projects by seeking volunteers.

“With something like a dog park, you could find dog lovers who can come and build it in a week’s time,” she said. “If you go with something like a concrete skate park that’s obviously going to cost more money.”

The board is seeking input for the current update through the online survey system and by polling residents at the meeting.

The most popular ideas included adding and connecting trails internally and regionally, a community garden, expansion of equestrian trails and additional tennis courts.

Most participants gathered around the table designated for feedback for the area of the city north of Keller Parkway.

The board also suggested enhancing park and trail signs for visitors to navigate and to maintain funds for current parks.

Legvold pointed out that she wanted the board and residents to think more long-term on the update.

“I hate going to cities with only rooftops and no greenery,” she said. “So let’s make sure we’re focusing on that as a priority and not just temporary benefits.”

Resident Rich Bender also expressed the importance of a balance between maintaining trails and developing commercially.

“We need to keep the trails simple but beautiful and not turn all the space we have into more roads,” he said.

City Communications Specialist Rachel Reynolds said she hopes to see more feedback from residents because she sees the impact the developments would make on citizens’ quality of life.

“A lot of people moved [to Keller] because they specifically loved the parks and trails,” she said. “So it’s obviously very important to get their feedback.”

Keller is one of the first cities to utilize a half-cent sales tax specifically for Parks & Recreation, Kinney said.

The next steps in the plan is to develop the recommendations from the first meeting and draft a report, which will be presented at the next public review meeting this summer, Kinney said.

In the meantime, Kinney said she encourages residents to give feedback on the city’s website through March 16. A map of the city’s different development areas is also available online and in town hall.

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